As unemployed workers, veterans and recent graduates become frustrated with the job market, some are exploring wider career options. Women are considering trade jobs traditionally held by men, including truck driving.
Women may be changing careers in midlife, after jobs in female-dominated sectors have disappeared. Those without previous experience in truck driving may have already exhibited the qualities that employers want: character, work ethic, punctuality, and human relations skills. By seeking to recruit women, trade employers expand their selection of qualified candidates.
According to Women in Trucking, “As trucks become more driver friendly and the freight is no longer being ‘fingerprinted’ by drivers, the opportunity to become a professional driver extends beyond those who are big, muscular, and mechanically minded.”
WIT offers some reasons why women may be better truck drivers than men, but every applicant’s record and attitude speaks for itself. However, car insurance website InsWeb.com says women are almost fifty percent less likely than men to have a DUI/DWI on their driving record, and are about ten percent less likely to have a moving violation on their record.
WIT offers several suggestions for attracting female drivers. Foremost, of course, is a corporate culture that values and appreciates women. The office environment and recruiting ads should be inviting to either gender.
WIT recommends having women visible in management roles, in order to make other women feel welcomed and valued. Mentoring is a good way to retain and develop new employees. WIT also suggests giving women T-shirts that identify them as drivers for their employers.
WIT further recommends a relaxed policy on keeping pets. “For many women, a pet is not only a companion, but a safety feature. A barking dog has scared away more than one predator in a parking lot,” according to their website. Considering the fact that men can be harassed, assaulted, robbed and even killed on overnight stops, this isn’t a bad idea for either gender.
Carriers who are corporate members of WIT have recognized female drivers by hosting events especially for them, and sending them to the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky every March.
The website Layover.com claims that “recent statistics show that nearly 200,000 women across the United States make truck driving their career. Whether it’s due to the call of the open road, flexible schedules, job availability, competitive salaries, or another of the trucking industry’s many advantages, more and more women are choosing to get behind the wheel every year.” Women can visit http://www.layover.com for industry articles, help finding truck driving jobs, information on trucking companies, and an online forum for women drivers. Employers who browse the forum might gain insight into women drivers’ needs and motivations.
Sandy Long writes in Layover.com, “Money is the most common reason for a woman to begin a trucking career… There are few other jobs where a woman can make the money found in trucking unless they have college degrees, and many older women do not.” She cites examples of other motivating factors: escaping from the world of “skirts and suits and office politics”, or being able to team up with a truck-driving husband after raising children.