ATRI Opens Research on Challenges to Hiring Female Drivers
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The American Transportation Research Institute has initiated new research into a question that the trucking industry has seemingly been fully unable to answer for many years: Why don’t women seem to want to be truck drivers?
Previous ATRI research has confirmed that women make up only 8.1% of all U.S. truck drivers, but account for only 2.7% of the nation’s longhaul truck drivers. It also concluded that women tend to be safer drivers than men.
The ATRI study is the latest industry effort aimed at finding ways to step up the recruitment of women as truck drivers — finding out what they want before they are willing to climb into a truck cab.
“Recognizing that certain fleets have substantially more women drivers than typical fleets, motor carriers will be surveyed and interviewed to identify best practices in recruiting and retaining women truck drivers,” said an ATRI statement. “Additional outreach will focus on women executives at motor carriers in order to understand issues and opportunities beyond truck driving.”
“We will also be collaborating with truck driver training schools to identify recruitment and training issues unique to women,” ATRI Senior Vice President Dan Murray said.
Who Will Be Studied?
Researchers will be looking to interview at least four different female populations, including:
• Female truck drivers who have been in the industry now and are generally satisfied.
• Female truck drivers who have been in the industry and then left.
• Women who have completed their truck driver training or are interested potential future candidates.
• Women who are uninterested in becoming a truck driver because they believe “it’s a “dinosaur industry” and have safety and security concerns.
Source: American Transportation Research Institute
Perhaps the biggest reason for recruiting women is that the previous ATRI study statistically confirmed that female truck drivers are safer than male truck drivers, Murray said.
“So it’s just another reason to be more aggressive than we have been in attracting women to the industry,” Murray said. “Not only is there a huge opportunity in terms of the number of women we could potentially get, but at the end of the day, we’ll have fewer crashes and lower insurance costs.”
There are already success stories in recruiting female drivers that ATRI can tap into for suggestions.
One of those companies is Boyle Transportation, which boasts that 40% of its drivers are women and has awards for recruiting women resting on a shelf in its all-purpose room.
“It helps because we’re a team operation,” said Laura Duryea, director of driver recruitment and professional growth at Boyle.
“We have a lot of female teams. We have two women who are just acquaintances, we have married women, and those that are just friends that are teaming.
“But I think that having a culture that not only appreciates female input and is open to having discussions with women about what they need, and providing that culture of inclusion, contributes to us being able to maintain that.”
Duryea added, “Having the ability for women to have their voice heard is really important, I think, in the industry because the more that we have women input, the more we can not only support women but also provide an environment for them to feel safe and supported as professional drivers. Even all of our advertising has women in them.”
There was clear evidence at some of the sessions at this year’s American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition that an emphasis on the recruitment of truck drivers is growing.
Women In Motion adviser Brenda Neville. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
Efforts by women’s groups such as Women In Trucking Association and ATA’s Women In Motion are pressing the pedal to the metal in advocating for putting women in the truck cab.
WIM is ramping up a new membership program and crafting a booklet that is focused on female independent contractors, group adviser Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association, said at an MCE session.
“We engaged in conversations with our entire council, a diverse group of 34 remarkable women, to ensure that we are strategically dividing, conquering, and most importantly, poised to make waves in our industry,” Neville said.
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