The number of women in the trucking industry is growing, but not as quickly as it should, especially given the current driver shortage. Female truck drivers currently make up about 7% of the industry in the United States, meaning that they are disproportionately underrepresented. At K & J Trucking, we are proud that more than 10% of our drivers are women; but what we want to see the number grow, both in our company and across the industry.
In this piece, we take a moment to focus on the myths about female drivers and why they are so misleading.
Myth: It Isn't Safe to Be a Female on the Road
Are there more risks to being a female on the road over males on the road? This is a complicated question to answer.
In society in general there are more crimes committed against women, so that is always an unfortunate factor. In many ways, risks for women on the road are much the same as off the road.
However, many in the industry are striving to make trucking a safer profession for women. Truck stops are making significant efforts to provide safe, well-lit places for drivers to fill up their rig, park, rest, and shower. Many companies are also developing training programs that make it easier for females to join their ranks.
Our female drivers believe that the key to safety on the road is being aware of your surroundings and making smart choices. Several of our female drivers find additional comfort and security in bringing a pet with them on the road.
Myth: Female Drivers Will Never Fit In
Trucking is quite obviously dominated by men, but that doesn't mean that these men don't want women to join them on the road. Professional drivers are a very welcoming group. If you show that you love the road, maintain professionalism, and support your male counterparts, you will find they support you as well.
Myth: Pay is Less for Female Drivers
This one is just patently false. One of the great parts of trucking is that men and women are generally paid per mile, and therefore make the same amount for the miles they drive.
Myth: Women Aren't Safe Drivers
This is fairly easy to disprove. The data just isn't out there. While many guys might not be happy to hear it, there is some preliminary evidence from Omnitracs that shows that women might actually be safer drivers than men.
We don't believe that being a safe driver has anything to do with your gender, but rather the seriousness with which you view the job. Both men and women can be very safe and conscientious professional drivers, so don't let this myth prevent you from considering becoming a female driver!
Myth: You Have to Understand Truck Mechanics to Drive
In this day and age, to drive a truck you just need a basic understanding of mechanics, and this understanding can be acquired during CDL school and in on-the-job training. You don't need experience as a diesel mechanic, or the ability to work on a truck to be successful in the business!
This is NOT to say that we haven't met plenty of women who DO understand their way around the engine of their truck.
Myth: You Have to Be Physically Strong (and Big) to be a Trucker
Truck drivers are required to pass a physical for their CDL, but this doesn't mean that you have to be 6'1" and able to bench press your body weight in order to be a successful driver.
Drivers come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, we have one female driver who is just at 5 feet tall and she is a phenomenal member of our team!
While trucking is a job that can require physical labor, a lot of this depends on what type of freight you are going to haul and if your carrier requires drivers to help with loading and unloading.
At K & J, our drivers don't have to load or unload, just make sure things are secure and safe within the reefer unit. As a result, there is lower physical strength required, usually just the ability to occasionally lift 50 pounds.
We're sure there are many more myths out there about women in the trucking industry. If you can think of more, leave them in the comments below and we will address them in a future blog.
If you're a woman thinking about becoming a truck driver, know that it is a rewarding and fulfilling career that gives you a great potential for growth and financial freedom. We would love to have the opportunity to talk to you about a future career in trucking, just click below to get the conversation started!