I am often asked to explain what issues women in the trucking industry have that are different from men. The answer is, “none.” Every one of the concerns that our members have affects both men and women.
So, why do women need their own association? They don’t! Despite the name, “Women In Trucking,” our membership is not limited to women. In fact, currently, seventeen percent of our members are men. If you think about it, you don’t need to be a dog to support the humane society, do you? The Arbor Day Foundation doesn’t require that you’re a tree to fund their efforts.
Our members include anyone who supports our mission; Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles.
Are there issues that are unique to women? No, but there are issues that affect women more than they affect men. These are some of the concerns we are focusing our efforts on and working to alleviate. Let’s look at some of the top obstacles women face in the trucking industry.
The number one concern relates to image. The common perception by those who are not familiar with the trucking industry is that it’s a man’s world. There may be a greater percentage of men than women responsible for moving the nation’s freight, but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t welcome. In fact, some of the most encouraging and supportive people in trucking are men!
Our goal is to let women know that there are great career opportunities in the trucking industry, and they include driving, maintaining and managing the equipment (and drivers!). Often, when I tell women about the organization, they are curious, but when I start describing the potential opportunities available to them, they tell me they aren’t “built” to drive a truck, or that they aren’t mechanically minded enough to service an engine.
I tell them that they’re wrong. I tell them they can learn and they are capable and most importantly, they are needed. Many people have the misperception that they are not welcome and wanted, and one of our goals is to change that image.
Another issue that is more important to women concerns safety. Women are more susceptible to violence than men. The US Department of Justice found that women are three times more likely to be raped than men, three times more likely to be stalked than men, and twice as likely to be injured during an assault than men. It is unfortunate, but violence against women is more prevalent, and so more women are more concerned about their physical safety.
This industry can’t afford to lose women because they do not feel safe in their work environment. Everyone deserves to have the security to do their job, and whether their workplace is an office, a truck or a maintenance facility, our goal is to help women overcome some of the challenges they might face in ensuring that they are safe while they are on the job.
Cleanliness is another issue that has arisen more often for women. Truck stops are not as clean as many would like them to be, and some of the rest room facilities at the loading docks haven’t been cleaned in ages. We aren’t claiming that men don’t care about germs, but we have found that women often have higher standards for defining what is meant by “clean.”
Harassment is an issue that women find to be more disconcerting than men. Many of our female members have told us that they are often verbally accosted by an anonymous male voice when they key the mic on their CB radio. Diane, an owner operator from Canada, said that she had been called some pretty nasty things when she talked on the CB. She turns it off except for the few occasions she needs it to communicate with a fellow driver.
Are men harassed on the CB, the answer that yes, they are. Are men concerned about cleanliness? Of course! Are men subjected to violence on the road? Yes, again.
Women In Trucking is not an association FOR women, it’s ABOUT women and their success and support in this industry. You don’t have to be a female to become a member. Call us at 888-464-9482 or visit www.WomenInTrucking.org to join!