Women in Trucking as a Career
There has never been a better time to become a truck driver, especially for women who are looking to start a new career. Women have been entering the trucking industry faster than ever. According to the Women in Trucking Association, 13.7% of over the road (OTR) drivers are women. This is a 10% increase from 2019.
Still, some questions remain. Should women head into trucking? What does a truck driver do? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more!
Women in Trucking: History at a Glance
Trucking has been around a lot longer than 18-wheelers have. Many types of vehicles were considered trucks until 1896, when Gottlieb Daimler invented the motorized vehicle.
“Stagecoach Mary” Dobbs, a woman who was freed from slavery in 1865, is considered to be the pioneer for women in trucking. At 60 years of age, she joined the U.S. Postal Service and drove a team of six horses and a mule named Moses through rain, snow, sleet, and hail to deliver mail to people.
Around 1920, during the time of the suffrage movement and WWI, Luella Bates was believed to be the first known woman to get her commercial truck driving license. She brought on a few other women to work with her while their husbands were away fighting. They tested automobiles and drove freight across the United States. Not to mention, Bates was also a master mechanic, continuing to show that women could do anything men could, even during a time when their voices went unheard.
During WWII, Queen Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in England, where she learned how to fix and drive trucks for the British forces.
Can Women be Truck Drivers?
"Why trucking? Because I've been looking for a job where I can get good benefits, actually good pay." Judy Sanchez, a trainee in California
Women are welcome in the trucking industry, and have been joining for many years. Also, women are equally as capable of driving a tractor-trailer as men are. According to the Women in Trucking Association:
Women are usually more cautious when they are behind the wheel. Statistically, this means less trucking accidents can occur, and if they do, they are usually at slower speeds, and less serious.
When it comes to paying attention to detail, women do a great job. This is important, as truck driving is part paperwork. Truckers have to manage bill of ladings and their electronic logs, which document mileage and time spent driving. They need to manage time, watch routes, and update dispatch—all things that require detailed focus.
With the increase in women joining the trucking industry, truck stops and the trucks themselves are now being designed with women in mind to make women more comfortable on and off the clock.
How Many Women are Becoming Truck Drivers?
"There's still drivers out there who think women shouldn't have a place in the trucking industry. They're few and far between, but unfortunately, they're vocal." Ellen Voie, Women in Trucking president
But what is it really like to be a woman trucker? That depends on who you ask. Women choose to become truckers for many reasons. You may want to add to your life experience, you may have always wanted to be a truck driver, or you need a career that is quick to get into. Most women truckers report a high level of career enjoyment.
Women in trucking are starting to be better represented. Based on our own data of over 500,000 truckers and trucking students, 22% of people looking for a CDL school are women. Not only that but, our CDL trucking job board shows that 17% of all people looking for trucking jobs are women.
It’s not only young women who are looking to start a CDL career — women of varying ages are looking to become truck drivers. There are women searching for trucking schools as well as women truckers looking for jobs whose ages range from their early 20s into their 60s.
There is not a wide age gap between the women with CDLs looking for trucking jobs compared to those looking to start a career in trucking. No matter your age, if you can drive and deliver, you can have a successful career in the trucking industry.
Tips for Women Going into Trucking
"As a truck driver, you make the same amount of money as your male peers, because you either get paid by the mile or the load of the percentage. So gender is not an issue in pay in the truck industry for drivers." Ellen Voie, Women in Trucking president
There are so many opportunities available to women in trucking. As more women enter the trucking workforce, the call for resources and organizations to represent women has been answered. If you’re a woman considering trucking as a career, here are some tips for you:
Go forth with confidence
Be confident. Go after opportunities that even seem out of reach. Remember women who compete in a man’s world can be equally as successful.
Resources are your friend
We mentioned the rise of women-trucker organizations and resources. Use them. They will be your allies and help you to succeed in the trucking industry. Some large organizations for women truckers that you should familiarize yourself with are Women in Trucking Association and its related foundation, and REAL Women in Trucking. Another site that is very informative and women-trucker friendly is Trucking Truth.
Real Women in Trucking is a grassroots, non-profit advocacy group. Founded by Desiree Wood, Real Women in Trucking provides information and resources for fellow women in the industry, or women who are considering trucking as a career.
Women in Trucking Association was founded in 2007 and is focused on encouraging women's employment in the trucking industry, as well as minimizing the obstacles they may face as truck drivers.
All three sites provide helpful information to steer you toward success in your industry.
Check it out
When you begin researching for CDL courses, find out which programs are female-friendly. Women in Trucking Association and REAL Women in Trucking both have plenty of information to guide you in making the right decision. Find out if the programs you’re looking at have any women instructors or in leadership roles. If the answer is yes to either or both of those, then you know that you’d be making a good choice in programs.
Women in the Inudstry
The trucking lifestyle can be tough, but as more women head into trucking careers, the types of support for women on the roads will only continue to increase. It's never been a better time to find CDL training near you and get started!
Note: trade school programs are a great opportunity for women too!