TRUCKING ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP TO GET MORE WOMEN IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

The Women in Trucking Association wants to help get 150 women truckers on the road in the next 12 months with connections and loan assistance.
With the trucking industry experiencing a sizable shortage of drivers and continued turnover, the Women in Trucking Association has partnered with a driver-services firm to help get more women drivers on the road.WIT announced the partnership with Expediter Services at its annual conference earlier this month. “They are very aggressive in trying to hire women,” said Ellen Voie, CAE, WIT president and CEO.Under the program, Expediter Services will assist with the financial and logistical hurdles involved in getting established as an independent contractor. The company will serve as a cosigner of a note for the program’s participants, which helps women drivers clear the first major hurdle: access to a vehicle. Beyond that, Voie said, Expediter Services is “going to help them with everything from maintenance issues to route optimization to financial planning. They actually will do everything in their power to make sure the driver is successful as an owner-operator.” To help launch the initiative, a pair of shipping and logistics companies have pledged to help provide support for participants the program.“We know that women are a very important and growing part of a changing marketplace in trucking,” said Expediter Services President Jason Williams in a statement. “We have been working for some time now to put the financing, operational support, and infrastructure in place that can serve as a strong springboard for the launch and growth of 150 new women-owned small businesses over the next year.”Independent contractors such as the ones the new program supports can be especially helpful for large companies that require short-term assistance, according to Voie. “There’s always a need out there,” she said. WIT, for its part, will promote the program to its 4,000 members and participants in its social media groups.One hundred and fifty new truck drivers is a small number compared to the American Trucking Associations’ estimated shortage of 48,000 drivers in the United States. Truck driving is a high-turnover job, thanks to its isolating and demanding nature. But it can be even more difficult, Voie said, to persuade women to pursue a career that’s often perceived as exclusively male and hostile to women.“[Trucking] companies that have a culture of safety attract women,” Voie said. “It’s not who’s paying the most per mile, it’s who’s going to make sure the equipment is well-maintained, and that the company is making sure that the woman is not running in hazardous conditions, and in places that might be dangerous.”WIT’s research says women account for a scant 7 percent of U.S. truckers, so there’s a steep hill to climb. But not insurmountable, said Voie. “The biggest barrier is image,” she said. “Women don’t know that they can do the job. They don’t realize that the equipment has changed so much …. The technology that’s been put in the truck has made it so easier, less physically demanding, and somewhat easier and safer. Part of our challenge is to let people know that you get in a truck, and you can do this.”

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