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Women in Transportation 2021: A year of resiliency

Aug. 19, 2021
In this year’s Women In Transportation profiles, each professional featured exemplifies positive change and resiliency and is doing her part to put the industry's best foot forward.

Women are continuing to gain ground and strengthen their presence across the trucking industry and within the global supply chain. However, there are still various reasons women in today’s workforce reject a career in trucking. The good news is the industry can and has been working to change some of the perceptions that might prevent women from joining trucking's ranks.

Commercial trucking companies and the industry as a whole can do a better job of showcasing more gender-neutral images for ads and even the verbiage they are using when promoting jobs in the industry, according to Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association. Showcasing the industry’s essential status and technological and safety advancements can also go a long way.

“Women tend to leave the industry because of safety—for instance, equipment and how well it is maintained,” Voie pointed out. “What is the company’s culture on areas of protest or inclement weather, for instance? Where are they delivering? Is the loading dock lit, and does it have security guards? Safety culture is really important to women.”

The need for continued change and growth has been made all too apparent as a federal bill, which was originally introduced in November 2019, to recognize women’s inequity in trucking resurfaced this year. Titled Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, the legislation will create an advisory committee dedicated to identifying, reporting, and addressing ways to increase the ranks of women in the industry.

According to the bill’s findings, women comprise 47% of the workforce in the U.S. and hold 24% of all transportation and warehousing jobs. More telling, however, is that women represent just over 7% of the truck driver workforce, 12.5% of all workers in the commercial truck transportation industry, and 8% of freight firm owners.

Further, the latest WIT Index survey reported that women executives in trucking companies climbed just shy of 24% and revealed that women comprise one-third of the executive teams at for-hire carriers. According to the WIT survey, women make up 43.5% of the overall non-executive workforce in trucking companies across the board. The lowest number of women executives was seen in freight technology companies, where women comprise just 19% of the executive teams, WIT pointed out.

Earlier this year, WIT and CarriersEdge launched a Diversity & Inclusion Index program to survey trucking companies in the U.S. and Canada and find industry-wide best practices. The end goal will be to highlight the programs that are particularly successful and then introduce the program at WIT’s Accelerate! conference in November.

The good news is that many of the women in various roles throughout the industry feel fulfilled in their work. “Based on our conference, it seems like women in the industry have a positive attitude about the future,” Voie told FleetOwner. “I don’t know if it’s just because women feel like they are going to make a difference and they’ve got wonderful opportunities, or if it’s just that women are more focused on creating change. I think that women are less likely to be in the ‘We’ve always done it that way’ category, so I think the change will be even greater moving forward because of that attitude.”

In this year’s Women In Transportation profiles, each professional featured exemplifies that attitude of positive change and resiliency. In a year that truly tested us all, these eight professionals—all from various ranks within the industry—have persevered, given back, encouraged their peers, and are doing their part to put the industry’s best foot forward. 

Meet this year's featured Women in Transportation:

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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