The country has a massive shortage of truck drivers. America needs about 51,000 more drivers to meet the demand from companies like Amazon and Walmart, according to the American Trucking Associations in an article by Heather Long published in The Washington Post. It added that the ATA predicts that this shortage is likely to get worse in the coming years.
With the increasing need for drivers and truckers, women can greatly help fill in the gap. Many women are skilled drivers with a huge potential to succeed in the trucking industry. However, according to the 2017 data of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women only account for 6.2% of the total labor force under the category “Driver/sales workers and truck drivers.”
Challenges of Women in Hotshot Trucking
Trucking is not only a profitable job but it also offers many benefits. While there’s an immense opportunity for women, many are reluctant to be a hotshot trucker because of the following known challenges associated with the profession.
- Harassment – Harassment can happen during training especially when a female driver is matched with a male trainer. However, you can avoid this by enrolling in reputable training institutions for hotshot truckers where security features are in place to protect women during training. Additionally, when enrolling in a course or training to be a hotshot driver, you can check with your institution if a female trainer is available.
- Operating equipment – In the past, most hauling equipment are designed for male drivers. Fortunately, it’s quite different now. You can find a lot of hauling equipment designed to acclimate women.
- Long hours on the road – This is one of the deciding factors especially for women with kids to take care of. However, some trucking companies who are looking to recruit more women offer benefits to augment this challenge.
- Safety – Safety on the road is a challenge for men and women truckers. To protect yourself, you could practice basic precautionary measures such as paying attention to where you are stopping especially at night. And unless it is a police officer or someone you know, avoid rolling down your window.
- Criticisms – You may face criticism from co-workers and fellow drivers during your stops. Don’t mind their bad attitude, ignore disrespect and focus on what you are doing. Eventually, they will see not your gender but the quality of work you do.
Benefits Enjoyed by Female Truckers
On a positive note, female drivers who already established a career in trucking enjoy the following benefits:
- Flexible schedules – In the trucking industry, schedules can be flexible and negotiated with your direct superior. However, this may not be the case if you are owner-operator and when you are the only one driving for your clients.
- Reasonable salaries and benefits – Depending on how big your company is as well as your skill level, you could earn anywhere from $25,000 annually or more plus other benefits including insurance and healthcare.
- Travel opportunity – If you are free spirited who would like to explore new places and enjoy the countryside view, then trucking is a good career choice for you.
- Job security and career growth – If you are a skilled driver, regardless of your gender, you’ll have a future in trucking. This could mean job security for the next 5 to 10 years.
Breaking Down the Stereotype
Gone are the days when trucking isn’t safe or suitable for women. Now, women who have chosen this profession are finding joy in their trucking career. Barriers based on stereotypes are also slowly diminishing as more companies are targeting women to join their workforce. Women are not only there to fill the shortage for truckers but to bring diversity to the field.
As many companies want to welcome women into the field, we have seen massive changes in the policies and practices of the trucking industry. One example has to do with the introduction of hotshot trailers that do not require much effort to operate. As for big trucks, some manufacturers also incorporate adjustability in the driver’s seat to make it suitable for women. Also, many truck stops and rest areas now have fenced parking with better lighting. These changes among others are making women feel more welcome.
Although trucking is still a male-dominated field, changes are slowly coming up for women. It shouldn’t surprise us to see more female drivers and owner-operators in the near future.