From the very beginning, tracing all the way back to when commercial trucks were first used for delivery and transportation needs, male truckers have vastly outnumbered females. That may always be the case. Slowly but surely, however, women are gaining more of a presence in the profession. Some surveys, including one by Bloomberg, suggest that as many as 10% of people with their commercial drivers licenses in the United States are women.
A new initiative launched by the federal government aims to encourage more women to obtain their CDLs.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in league with the Department of Transportation, is in the seminal stages of setting up the Women of Trucking Advisory Board. Once all the pieces are in place, WOTAB's mission will be to recruit, retain and support women in the commercial motor vehicle industry in addition to prioritizing their safety on the roads.
Pete Buttigeg, the secretary of the Transportation Department, said he's thrilled about WOTAB and what it has the potential to do for trucking as well as the nation's economy.
"America needs truck drivers like never before, yet women — half the American people — have long been underestimated and underrepresented behind the wheel and in jobs across this sector," Buttigieg explained in the press release. "Getting to know women in trucking, I have heard about their passion for the job as well as the challenges they face, and this experienced Women in Trucking Advisory Board will help us address these issues directly."
Nearly half of truck drivers are minorities
Much like the trucks themselves (more motor carriers investing in trucks that run on electricity), truck drivers are becoming increasingly diverse. It's estimated that approximately 42% of truckers today are members of a minority group, according to estimates from the American Trucking Associations' 2021 Trucking Trends Report. Women, meanwhile, make up roughly 8%.
WOTAB aims to shore up these numbers even further by evaluating what barriers, if any, are preventing women from pursuing this line of work, identifying opportunities where women can expand their role and providing recommendations in regard to training, mentoring and educating women who are in the profession or are thinking about joining it.
Robin Hutcheson, deputy administrator for FMCSA, said she has high expectations for WOTAB in terms of how the group can make the industry better than ever.
"We anticipate many great ideas from the advisory board that will help expand equity and safely provide access to careers in trucking for women across the industry," Hutcheson said.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, WOTAB's membership are all women, the press release points out. Of the 16 members, five have current CDLs and four used to have them but are no longer driving professionally. Combined, the Women in Trucking Advisory Board boasts 80 years of driving experience and 275 years in trucking as well as other kinds of transportation methods.
As with men, money is the primary draw for females who have entered the profession. Though trucking was once seen as a low-paying occupation, that's not the case anymore. In 2021, the median salary for drivers employed by a private motor carrier was $85,000, according to the ATA. The median earnings level among all truckers was $69,000, which is up 18% from 2020.
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