When you think of truck drivers and sales-related workers, you may picture it being a “man’s job” in a sort of sense, and that may be because that is what the stereotype is in our society. However, that is the stereotype, but it is quickly changing.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in 2016, and it found that of the 3.5 million sales workers and truck drivers employed in 2016, only 6 percent were women. However, that number is a drastic increase from the 1.1 percentage of women who worked in sales-related workers and truck driver positions in 2008.
The Burea of Labor Statistics considers truck drivers, and other professions like roofers and carpenters as nontraditional for women – but that may be changing.
The American Trucking Association released its Truck Driver Shortage Analysis in 2015, and it found that the trucking industry will have a shortage of about 175,000 drivers by 2024. There are multiple reasons for that including experienced truck drivers entering retirement and a lack of qualified drivers. With a shortage and openings for truck drivers, why not turn to women to fill those needs?
Historically speaking, women have not been a part in the trucking industry, because of social and cultural reasons, but there are organizations out there that are pushing to get more women to enter into the profession.
The Real Women in Trucking is an organization consisted of women truck drivers who promote safety by educating the public about unsafe truck driver training. It is also a network to support women who want to enter the industry. It was formed in 2010 as a protest group for women who wanted to improve conditions in the trucking industry. In 2013, Real Women in Trucking was granted 501 © (6) trade association status.
The organization says low standard entry level driver training practices create a barrier for women who want to enter into the trucking industry. Through its website, Real Women in Trucking have a page that displays job openings for trucking jobs.
In 2017, Real Women in Trucking started its Lady Truck Driver Cruise. It first began as a series of educational workshops to educate women on self-defense and sexual harassment. It also involved a driver advocacy forum, but now, it also operates as an award ceremony to recognize female truck drivers.
Speakers at the event have included Jan Shelly, an attorney from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Allen Smith, a CDL student advocate who has educated truck driver students about CDL Schools and starter companies scams. He wrote a book about issues that face truck drivers including low wages, CDL mills, false advertising and one-sided truck lease scams. Scams are something that face truck drivers, and there is even a Truckers Justice Center that focuses on the issue.
To support Real Women in Trucking, visit realwomenintrucking.com/support/.
At 26 years old, petite, 5’3” native born Brenda Villanueva is doing what she enjoys, driving semi-trucks. Villanueva says, “I was motivated to join the trucking industry as a single mom. I love semi trucks. They are diamonds to me. As a single mom, I worked hard to learn about the industry and I now drive Inter-State.” Driving within the State of Colorado allows Villanueva to enjoy the beautiful views and scenery the state has to offer. It also allows her to come home at the end of the day to her 4-year-old daughter.
“The trucking industry is not easy, says Villanueva. It is male-dominated and no disrespect to my counterparts, but it is a tough industry with male-only attitudes.” Villanueva enjoys her job and says she is vitalized every morning as she greets the day. She hopes that other young women will be encouraged to join the trucking industry. She offers, “I want young women to know they can be anything they want to be.”