Skilled Trades

How Women Are Shaping the Future of Truck Driving

Skilled TradesSeptember 29, 2023

Is truck driving a good career for women? You may think you know the answer to that question. But there are more opportunities in truck driving for women today than there were in the early days of trucking when professional driver Ellen Voie got her start. 

Voie shared her experience as one of the few female drivers in the 1970s with the Women in Trucking (WIT) Association. “Many drivers entered the industry because their dad or grandpa was a truck driver,” Voie said. “The ideal driver was a farm kid, as they learned to drive heavy equipment at an early age. ... Carriers loved those hardworking farm boys!”

Since then, the industry has been making slow yet steady strides toward gender diversity. In a 2023 interview with NPR, 73-year-old Idella Hansen, who’s been driving trucks since the age of 18, described seeing evidence of these shifts firsthand: “I am seeing it in the truck stop. Day after day after day, I’m seeing more ladies at the fuel island. I’m seeing more ladies dropping and hooking.”

Increased gender diversity in trucking isn’t merely anecdotal; recent statistics point to a gradual upward trend in the number of female drivers in the industry. And along with helping to advance gender equality, the growing number of women seeking commercial driving training and licensure is also good news for the trucking industry, as it’s helping to remedy pressing labor shortages.

Is Truck Driving a Good Career for a Woman?

Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the number of women in the trucking industry is growing. Between 2019 and 2022, the percentage of individuals classified as driver/sales workers and truck drivers who were women increased from 6.7% to 8.1%. Those years also saw an increase in the percentage of workers employed as industrial truck and tractor operators who were women, going from 8.7% to 10.5%. Despite these being record percentages for the industry, they remain significantly below women’s share of the overall U.S. workforce (46.8%) as reported by the BLS in 2022.

What does the slow uptick in the number of female drivers mean for the future of trucking? This rise in women entering the field coincides with an all-time high in the industry’s driver shortage, a shortfall the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates could escalate to 160,000 drivers by 2031. To remedy the shortage, the trucking industry will need to recruit 1.2 million drivers to replace retirees, manage turnover, and meet industry growth.

As a result, trucking companies are diversifying their recruitment strategies, broadening their searches to include prospective female drivers who can fill open positions. And as more women realize that truck driving is a rewarding career option, companies are working to make trucking a more equitable profession. But the industry needs to do more if it wants to retain female drivers for the long term, and women are demanding changes to company policies and workplace cultures that, if adopted across the sector, will lead to a more sustainable future for trucking.

How Are Women in Truck Driving Changing the Industry? 

The growing awareness around the specific needs of women in trucking is due in part to associations like WIT that are encouraging gender diversity by sharing stories from real women in the industry, hosting annual conferences and events, and conducting research focused on female drivers. Companies that want to stay competitive in the future are paying attention to what women are looking for in a trucking career and adapting their work environments accordingly.

In a 2023 survey conducted in partnership with TransForce, WIT found that the top three factors women care about when seeking a driving job are competitive pay (at 75.3%), company reputation (at 43%), and flexible scheduling (at 27.6%). Companies that are transparent about these benefits and indicate a strong interest in recruiting female drivers are more likely to resonate with women, the survey found. 

Explore some of the ways companies are updating their business operations to be more inclusive of women in truck driving.

Workplace DEI Initiatives

WIT reports that women drivers favor companies with strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The 2023 WIT Index shows 56.4% of trucking companies have formal DEI policies, up 10.9% from 2022, while another 19.3% of companies have DEI policies currently in development. 

Bridgestone Americas is one such company prioritizing DEI. Sara Correa, the company’s chief marketing officer, told WIT that DEI initiatives are crucial for long-term success, making companies more competitive in attracting talent: “We have adopted [a DEI office] because we believe having a diverse team with diverse capabilities built through developing, promoting, retaining, and recruiting great people is absolutely essential to our success, not just for today but for years to come.”

Tech Advancements

Alongside growing workplace diversity efforts, more apps and platforms are emerging to make trucking more friendly to women. Jessica Paugh Warnke, CEO of Carter Logistics, told Business Insider about resources like Dock411, which offers key delivery information, and Trucker Path, which ranks truck stops by their amenities. These tools, along with community platforms like those hosted by WIT, help women drivers prioritize safe, well-lit stops and avoid poorly reviewed ones.

Essential Services and Amenities

More fleet offices are also adapting to address drivers’ needs outside of work. Christina Ameigh, a vice president at Volvo Trucks North America, noticed the addition of day care facilities at several offices, according to Business Insider. “You would have never seen that 20 years ago,” she said. 

Prime Inc., a freight transport and logistics company, added luxury amenities like a salon, spa, and gym at its Salt Lake City terminal, as well as private bunk rooms, day care facilities, and healthcare facilities. Enhancements like these prove to female drivers that companies recognize their off-duty responsibilities and are invested in helping them achieve a positive work-life balance.

Discover How Truck Driving Is a Good Career for Women 

Though men still account for nearly 90% of truck drivers in the United States, women are gradually making their presence known in the industry by bringing their authentic selves to work and clearly stating their job expectations. Recognizing women’s potential to invigorate the industry, companies are adapting to welcome a new wave of drivers who are leading the future of trucking.

The Fortis commercial driving program can provide you with the behind-the-wheel training and test preparation necessary to pursue your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and launch a fulfilling career in trucking. Fortis believes in empowering students from all backgrounds with the skills they’ll need to hit the road. As a student at Fortis, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from experienced instructors, including professional female drivers who are active in the trucking community. 

The Advanced Tractor Trailer Driving program can prepare you with the top industry skills to keep you competitive in the job market, including driving instruction for manual transmission trucks and advanced practices in trip theory so you can plan your routes strategically and efficiently. Are you ready to join us in shaping the future? Explore the commercial driving program at Fortis today.

Recommended Readings:
How Women Are Overcoming Stereotypes in the Skilled Trades
We Need Women in the Skilled Trades
What Types of Jobs Can I Get With a Class A CDL?

American Trucking Associations, “Driver Shortage Update 2022”
Business Insider, “Innovation and Connectivity Are Slowly Bringing More Women Into a Career in Trucking, Driving Cultural Change in the Male-Dominated Industry”
Heavy Duty Trucking, “Trucking Company Adds Luxury Amenities to Attract Drivers”
NPR, “Trucking Is Getting More Diverse, Partly Due to a Nationwide Shortage of Drivers”
Women in Trucking, “DE&I: Driving Corporate Culture and Business Results”
Women in Trucking, “The Good Old Days”
Women in Trucking, “Perspectives to Help Maximize Success in Recruiting and Retaining Female Drivers”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics From the Current Population Survey
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Women in the Labor Force: A Databook”