Research Highlights Barriers Preventing Women from Pursuing Truck Driving Careers

woman in drivers seat of semi truck

A new study by an industry research organization sheds light on the question, “Why aren’t there more women who are professional truck drivers?” The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released new research outlining methods to increase the number of women truck drivers entering and remaining in the industry. The research identifies six major challenges faced by women truck drivers and offers an action plan for the industry. This plan includes specific steps for motor carriers, truck driver training schools, and truck drivers, all aimed at making trucking careers more appealing to women.

The first challenge is the negative industry image and perception. Issues such as inequitable social norms, misuse of social media, a lack of younger drivers, and an aging workforce contribute to this issue. The second challenge is the inability to complete truck driver training, caused by factors like the inability to pay for training, lack of driving skills or knowledge, limited access to childcare, and excessive travel to and from school. The third challenge is an unsatisfactory motor carrier company culture, which includes unclear and inconsistent communication with drivers, and an absence of recognition and appreciation initiatives.

The fourth challenge is difficulty acclimating to the OTR driver lifestyle. This is complicated by insufficient home time and an inability to establish and sustain healthy habits. The fifth challenge is limited access to parking and restroom facilities, highlighted by a shortage of available safe parking and a lack of clean restrooms. The sixth and final challenge is excessive gender harassment and discrimination, which includes discrimination during training and concerns over personal safety.

ATRI stated that this research was identified by its Research Advisory Committee in March 2023 as a top priority to better understand the challenges faced by women drivers. The research offers specific strategies for the industry to increase the relatively small number of women in trucking. ATRI’s research included input from thousands of truck drivers, motor carriers, and truck driver training schools through surveys, interviews, and a focus group of women drivers to identify the underlying factors that generate these challenges, as well as strategies to overcome these barriers.

“ATRI’s research gives a voice to the thousands of women truck drivers who have found successful and satisfying careers in this industry and encouragement to other women to consider truck driving jobs,” said Emily Plummer, a professional driver for Prime Inc. and one of America’s Road Team Captains.

The study found that women are attracted to driving careers due to the income potential. Pay parity between men and women is more common in the trucking industry compared to other fields, according to ATRI. Additionally, the research revealed that carriers with women-specific recruiting and retention initiatives have a higher percentage of women drivers (8.1%) compared to those without such initiatives (5%). The report details how fleets can implement these initiatives.


Source: Truckers News