Gender Bias, Harassment in Industry Still a Concern, Report Says

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A new report and survey conducted by the Women In Trucking Association showed that most women regard the industry as safe, but many report they have been the recipients of verbally offensive comments, verbal threats and abuse in recent years.

The report, “Addressing Gender Bias and Harassment in the Trucking Industry,” a follow-up to an earlier association survey of professional drivers, concluded that 56% of female drivers have been the recipient of verbally offensive comments more than once, while 13% reported it has happened to them once.

Nearly three of every 10 of the 436 drivers surveyed said they have never received verbally offensive comments.

“A key learning from this study is that while companies with for-hire or private fleets have taken steps to reduce sexual harassment or gender bias through formal policies, training and sensitivity programs, there remains a lot of work yet to be done in these areas,” the report said. “In fact, approximately 30% of the professional drivers participating in this group’s survey were either unaware of their company’s harassment policies or stated their employer did not have them in place.”

Female respondents reported that within the past five years they experienced physical violence while on the job. Approximately 6% reported they have been raped, while another approximately 18% said they have been threatened with a weapon.

Another area of concern by drivers responding to the 2021 survey is that they have either been the victim of unwanted physical advances or rape within the last five years.

“In fact, 39% of respondents say they have been the recipient of an unwanted physical advance more than once, and another 18% say they have experienced this one time on the job,” the report said. “Approximately 41% say they have not been the victim of an unwanted physical advance.”

Approximately 4% surveyed reported they have experienced rape while 2% said they experienced rape more than once.

The vast majority of the respondents drive longhaul over-the-road — nearly 74% — while the remainder are involved in short-haul driving assignments, including pick-up and delivery.


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“Leveraging the responses to our survey, we identified several gaps and vulnerabilities in industry stakeholders’ current corporate policies and operational practices that have inadvertently allowed gender bias and harassment in the workplace to persist,” the report said.

WIT has more than 6,000 members in 10-plus countries. The organization’s mission is to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles they face. Although the number of women in transportation is on the rise, the U.S. Department of Labor found that women still currently comprise under 8% of all truck drivers and sales workers.

“While most of the trucking industry recognizes the problem of gender bias and harassment and has already taken corrective measures, many stakeholders have yet to codify their concerns into official corporate policy. Others have yet to enforce said policies to a degree where it has become recognized by employees,” the report said.

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The report said that while industry stakeholders’ principal goal should be to minimize workplace inequities by changing the dynamics of their institutional cultures, they must also crack down on the top areas where gender bias and harassment are perpetuated.

“Implementing same-gender training represents an ideal place to start,” the report said. “Driver training often requires spending long periods with a member of the opposite gender alone, including sleeping in the truck cab. As such, it’s no surprise that respondents indicated that it represents a top industry safety risk for women.”

“While the trucking industry should be proud of the significant strides it has made in fostering gender inclusivity over the last four years, our 2021 survey makes it clear that gender bias and harassment remains a significant concern for female drivers that’s deserving of all stakeholders’ time and attention.”