More women become truckers as the industry tries to overcome a shortage of drivers
PUBLISHED SAT, MAR 25 20237:00 AM EDT
SHAREShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via Email
- Women made up almost 14% of professional drivers in 2022, according to Women In Trucking, up from just 7.9% in 2018.
- Women have been joining the trucking industry at higher rates not just for driving roles, as women in dispatcher and safety roles both top 40%.
- Associations like Women In Trucking work to increase the rate of women drivers, technicians and executives, particularly younger women or those switching careers.
Courtesy: Vanita Johnson
After 13 years in teaching and education administration, Vanita Johnson switched to a position she always wanted — behind the wheel of a big rig.
Johnson took a three-week course in trucking, got her commercial driver’s license and became an independent owner-operator. She eventually joined a larger company and has been hauling shipments for over two years.
She’s one of many in the trucking industry leading efforts to bring more women into the fold. Associations like Women In Trucking work to increase the rate of women drivers, technicians and executives, particularly younger women or those switching careers, like Johnson.
“Trucking comes with its ups and downs, but you can overcome each challenge because we have women pioneers that were out there before us that have paved the way,” Johnson said. “You have that support route there to help you navigate through this male-populated industry, and it offers freedom and travel.”
Johnson said during her time in trucking she’s found her male counterparts to go above and beyond to help her navigate the industry. The wages have also been a plus compared with her teaching salary, she said.
Efforts to introduce more women to trucking became even more pressing when the Covid pandemic took hold in the U.S., sending the service and education industries into upheaval. Comparatively, trucking never slowed down. Many teachers and service workers made the switch to trucking, along with nurses and other women from the medical field who faced burnout.
Now, with the industry facing a daunting driver shortage, initiatives to bring in women drivers from other industries have escalated. Unions including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have worked to end violence and harassment of women on the job and remove barriers to women entering the industry, including safety risks, wage inequities and lack of training and support.