By Jessica Larson of SolopreneurJournal.com
Of the 22 million jobs lost during the first year of the pandemic, only 12 million had been recovered by the end of the year. More impactfully, women lost more than half of those jobs, and many are still unemployed. This is unofficially referred to as the “she-cession.” With the pandemic still lingering, many women ask, “What now?”
While there are no certain answers, some women find success looking outside of the norm. Many industries, including trucking, have great deficits of women in the workplace. That room for growth may be the opportunity women are looking for, from behind the wheel to a seat in the board room.
The trucking industry is in the midst of a shortage of nearly 1 million drivers. With an increasing number of drivers nearing retirement age, the industry is desperate to hire. As of now, women represent a virtually untapped asset. Only 6% of the commercial driving force is composed of women, and there are even fewer in other industry roles.
Commercial driving isn’t for everyone; that much is true. For women looking for a new role in an established industry, however, commercial trucking offers a potential ladder out of the she-cession pit. There is abundant financial assistance available for women to become drivers. This includes scholarships and training opportunities through nonprofit organizations.
The benefits of having women on board are many. That’s why leaders work to eliminate the negative stereotypes and barriers to entry.
Unfortunately, there are still stereotypes within the trucking industry. Driving alone on the road for extended periods presents a variety of health and safety challenges, many of which are more profound for women. As in any male-dominated field, it can be difficult for a woman to break through.
The statistics don’t lie, though: women drivers get in fewer accidents and are generally more cautious than their male counterparts. Outside of driving, they engage in training regimens, resulting in a keener understanding of the finer points of the industry when it comes to management and customer relationships. The benefits of having women on board are many. That’s why leaders work to eliminate the negative stereotypes and barriers to entry.
Among the soft skills that help women lead is their ability to adapt to change more quickly. As the climate crisis looms larger, new regulations and customer-driven demands require that flexibility. Adopting alternative fuels, transitioning to “eco-fleets,” and vehicle recycling are rebranding trucking as climate-friendly. It takes open minds and creative solutions to ensure the industry thrives.
While driving is often the first stop on a career journey, it does not have to be a final destination. The rest of the industry is wide open to women, from mechanics and marketers to logistic masters and office managers.
Owning a fleet company is also a tangible reality for any woman. Like any entrepreneur in an industry with significant overhead, you’ll face the initial challenges of securing funding for capital, insurance, and fuel, so start building credit now to ensure you’re eligible for business loans and if factoring is part of your business growth, please contact TCI. Because women are historically underrepresented as business owners, you may be eligible for minority small business grant programs. Grants can pay for everything from operating costs to marketing, and the funds don’t have to be paid back.
As with any industry, finding a mentor can maximize a career path. This is especially true for business leaders. Businesses can be successful under the leadership of women. This phenomenon occurs despite having fewer mentorship opportunities for women than men. Luckily, as new generations enter the workforce, these discrepancies have begun to be addressed.
Organizations for women in trucking are growing in popularity. These institutions help promote industry training, as well as teaching and advocating for women. They also shed light on some of the more unsavory aspects of the male-dominated business. Such organizations create safe and educational spaces for women in trucking, and they lead the charge in unleashing their untapped resources.
Commercial trucking is not always the first industry in mind for women. With a growing driver shortage and millions of jobs once held by women still absent, though, the time to challenge that stereotype is now. With the vast opportunities and incentives available for women in trucking, it is easier than ever to get started.