ATRI Research Identifies Challenges for Female Truck Drivers

But Outlines Many Reasons That Many Women Get Behind the Wheel
female driver
ATRI research found that women are drawn to driving careers for the income potential. (ATRI)

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Industry image and perception, training school completion, truck parking shortages, restroom access, and gender harassment and discrimination were among the key obstacles that hold back female truck drivers from entering and remaining in the trucking industry, according to a new study by the American Transportation Research Institute.

ATRI’s research, made public June 18, included input from thousands of truck drivers, motor carriers and truck driver training schools through surveys, interviews and a focus group of female drivers to identify the underlying factors that produce challenges, as well as strategies for navigating and overcoming barriers to success.

The study also identified personal safety concerns, unsatisfactory motor carrier cultures and difficulty acclimating to an over-the-road lifestyle as barriers to recruiting and keeping women in careers behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles.

A survey taken for the study included responses from 1,458 drivers, 82 motor carriers and 8 training school interviews.

ATRI research found that women are drawn to driving careers for the income potential, highlighting the fact that pay parity for women and men is much more prevalent in the trucking industry than in many other fields.


That said, despite better pay compared with other jobs, some women lamented that driving keeps them away from home too long, presents child care challenges for parents, and offers limited advancement opportunities. Among the benefits, respondents said they enjoy driving, the independence the career affords, job security and the fact that a college degree is not required.

“ATRI’s research gives a voice to the thousands of women truck drivers who have found successful and satisfying careers in this industry and encouragement to other women to consider truck driving jobs,” said Emily Plummer, a professional driver for Prime Inc., a member of America’s Road Team and a participant in the study’s focus group.

The research project was identified by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee in March 2023 as a top priority to help further understand the challenges female drivers encounter.

Emily Plummer


The study also offers specific strategies and an action plan for motor carriers, truck drivers and driver training schools that can help increase the relatively small number of women in trucking.

“The involvement of women in the trucking industry is crucial for enhancing safety and addressing workforce shortages,” the ATRI study said. “A 2022 update of Predicting Truck Crash Involvement [reported] female truck drivers were safer than their male counterparts in every statistically significant category, as documented by fewer crashes, convictions and violations.”

“Truck driving jobs have historically been filled by men,” the study said. “However, women have occupied truck driving roles going back to the early 1920s. Also over the past century, women have ascended to various positions across the trucking sector, including from human resources, technicians, truck driving, dispatch and safety positions to C-suite and executive leadership roles.

“While the visibility of women in trucking advertisements has increased and the percentage of women drivers has been rising slowly over the past few decades, significant challenges persist that deter women from considering or continuing a career in trucking,” ATRI said. “These challenges arise throughout the training, hiring and operations processes.”

Joyce Brenny


To meet the challenges, ATRI encouraged female truck drivers to stay professional and maintain a positive outlook, share positive stories and posts, train on improper social media usage, connect with high school students, emphasize trucking as a lucrative alternative to college, develop a mentorship program, and institute regular virtual learning sessions.

“This report provides an important road map for the industry to increase the number of women drivers,” said ATRI Research Committee member Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation president and CEO. “We have found tremendous success and improved safety with our women drivers and believe others who utilize this research will also experience success.”

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