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Motor carriers urging women to become truck drivers


More women are entering the trucking industry.

The truck driver shortage is not a new problem. For a number of years now, there have been far more big rig trucks than people willing to haul goods in them. But the lack of drivers is getting increasingly dire as supply chain frustrations begin to pile up.

To turn things around, employers are appealing to women, a demographic group historically underrepresented in a sector whose vast majority is older men. While there's a ways to go before reaching trucker parity, the recruiting efforts are slowly but surely getting more females behind the wheel.

30% jump in female truckers
As recently as 2018, fewer than 8% of truckers were women, according to a Women in Trucking Association survey reported by Frieightwaves. But after a targeted recruitment push over the following 12 months, women now make up 10% of truck drivers, a 30% increase on a year-over-year basis.

While undoubtedly better, other surveys suggest the situation isn't quite as rosy. For example, a 2019 survey by the American Trucking Association showed that women represent just 6.7% of long-haul drivers, Bloomberg reported. Long-haul truckers are in especially high demand because the rigs they drive are capable of carrying more volume and overall tonnage.

Free certification programs
To persuade more women to give trucking a try, executives within the industry are working with states, lawmakers and nonprofits to help eliminate some of the roadblocks to the trucker lifestyle. For example, in New York, the Department of Transportation has a program in place that allows women, people of color and "disadvantaged individuals" to obtain their commercial drivers licenses free of charge. The University at Buffalo, City College of Technology and Bronx Community College are among the educational facilities helping to make this effort possible.

Similar initiatives are also ongoing in Oregon through an initiative led by the nonprofit group Worksystems and the Portland Haulers Association. While anyone 21 years of age or older is eligible, priority acceptance is being given to women and people of color, according to the flyer found at Work Systems' website.

Clarise King-Green of Philadelphia told Bloomberg that motor vehicles have been a passion for her since turning 16, but it was more of a hobby than anything else. Now 50 years old, she's doing what she loves after successfully obtaining her CDL through a state-sponsored program.

"People that know me well say driving is in my blood, so it wasn't intimidating," King-Green explained, referring to what it was like when she drove a truck for the first time. "It was exciting, really."

She added for her, truck driving was never about going against the grain or breaking into a line of work that is mostly male. It was about putting food on the table for her kids. Employers are increasing wages to further incentivize applicants.

In addition to shoring up the shortage, more women drivers will help with safety. Women In Trucking Chief Executive Officer Ellen Voie told Bloomberg women tend to be more defensive on the road, resulting in fewer accidents. Those that do occur typically aren't major in nature.

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