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Number of women behind the wheel soars year-over-year

Images: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Women now make up over 10 percent of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers, an increase of almost 30 percent over the 7.89 percent seen in the Women in Trucking (WIT) Association’s 2018 survey. The increase came after a industry-wide push to hire more women drivers in response to last year’s capacity crunch. 

FreightWaves partnered with WIT to complete this year’s survey. It was conducted via email to FreightWaves’ readers, garnering 884 responses from across the logistics industry. The majority of responses came from carriers and freight brokerages, but shippers and freight tech companies also responded. 

While companies were primarily concerned with tapping into new driver segments in order to remedy the driver squeeze last year, the growing push to get women on the road also piqued the interest of researchers. A 2018 study conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that women are not only adequate drivers, but that they are safer drivers than men in most cases. 

ATRI Vice President Dan Murray commented on the study’s findings during the 2018 TrueNorth Transportation Risk Summit. The ATRI study found that men are 88 percent more likely to have a reckless or negligent driving conviction, 78 percent more likely to have a seat belt violation, 73 percent more likely to be convicted of running a stoplight and 70 percent more likely to be convicted of speeding one to 15 miles over the speed limit when compared to women.

The ATRI study’s findings have been reinforced by researchers from several other organizations. The data behind hiring women drivers could serve as a driving force to keep carriers on the lookout for qualified women, even now that capacity has loosened up.  

The trend is not contained to the driver’s seat. The number of women executives in trucking companies climbed just shy of 24 percent year-over-year. This year’s survey revealed that women make up one-third of the executive teams at for-hire carriers. When other market segments are added in, women account for at least one in four executives. 

Women make up 43.5 percent of the overall non-executive workforce in trucking companies across the board. Non-executive employees include druiters, driver managers, dispatchers, salespeople and administrative workers.  

The lowest number of women executives was seen in freight tech companies, where women make up just 19 percent of the executive teams. These companies tend to employ fewer women than all other surveyed portions of the transportation and logistics space, lagging behind in area from salespeople to technology staff.

The only position that came in below drivers, in terms of percentage of women employees, is diesel technician. This year’s survey shows that about 4 percent of this field is made up of women, making it the only researched position in transportation where women make up a single-digit percentage of the workforce. 

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.