Women are not small men

Sept. 19, 2014

A while ago I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Transportation Research Board Conference in Washington, D.C.  The overall topic for the panel was “Safety and Security Design for Female Transportation Workers.”  My segment focused on “Challenges in Equipment Design,” and since I represent women in the trucking industry, my information related to women in trucking! 

As I gathered the research related to equipment used by professional drivers, I was drawn to two different ways of viewing the data.  There are many people in the trucking industry who prefer to refer to women as “small statured people,” to consolidate them with men who are shorter than average.

However, after reading many articles about the differences between men and women when it comes to drivers, I determined that women are not merely small men!  In fact, there are many women (myself included) who are taller than average and cannot be lumped into the group of all drivers when it relates to equipment.

According to a study conducted by Atlas Ergonomics, the average male truck driver weighs 213 pounds and is 5’ 10” tall.  The average female truck driver weighs 160 pounds and is 5’ 4” tall.  Remember, these are averages, but an earlier study concluded that truck drivers are heavier, on average, than the general population.

While women may be shorter than men (on average) it is often due to the length of their legs (not torso).  Men have greater grip strength and are less subject to overstretching tendons than women. However, women have more flexible joints while men are usually able to generate more strength, especially in the upper limbs, than women.

About the Author

Ellen Voie | President/CEO

Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association in 2007 and serves as the nonprofit’s President/CEO. Women In Trucking was formed to promote the employment of women in the trucking industry, remove obstacles that might keep them from succeeding, and to celebrate the successes of its members. Ellen was the Manager of Retention and Recruiting Programs at Schneider National, Inc.,

Ellen earned a diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management while employed as Traffic Manager for a steel fabricating plant in 1979.  She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with an MA in Communication from UW-Stevens Point, where she completed her research on the complex identities of women married to professional drivers. She holds a Class A CDL. In 2012 Ellen was honored by the White House as a Transportation Innovator Champion of Change

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