A transportation research group hopes to identify the barriers facing women when it comes to beginning and maintaining a career in the trucking industry.
On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the American Transportation Research Institute launched a research initiative aimed at discovering “the challenges facing women truck drivers as well as barriers that discourage women from considering a career as a truck driver.” The group said the research also will seek to identify strategies for overcoming industry issues faced by women.
According to ATRI, some of the key components of the research will include:
- National surveys and focus groups with women who are veteran truck drivers, new entrants or former truck drivers. In addition, researchers will engage different groups to identify both issues and motivators for women considering careers in trucking.
- Given that certain fleets have substantially more female drivers than average, these motor carriers will be surveyed and interviewed to identify best practices in recruiting and retaining female truck drivers. Additional outreach will focus on female executives at motor carrier companies in order to understand issues and opportunities beyond truck driving.
- Collaborating with truck driver training schools to identify recruitment and training issues unique to women.
According to research from ATRI, women make up only 8.1 percent of all U.S. truck drivers and only 2.7 percent of over-the-road truck drivers. Abbigail Huffman, a research analyst with ATRI, said these low numbers were the motivation for the research initiative.
“We noticed that there is somewhat of a discrepancy in representation for women in truck driving positions across the country, and our Research Advisory committee earlier this year identified the barriers that women faced when entering the industry as a top issue,” Huffman told Land Line Now. “So this research aims to identify the challenges that women truck drivers encounter throughout the entire process of obtaining their CDL, to the day they’re on the road every single day, and then hopefully identify some of the solutions for overcoming those challenges along the way.”
Huffman said the research will be comprised of a motor carrier survey and truck driver survey, along with interviews with executives at motor carriers and CDL training schools.
“We’re going to do a focus group with some women truck drivers later on in the research process when we have some findings,” Huffman said. “And that’s hopefully where we’ll dig in deep and really close out the research, tie up all the loose ends, identify those solutions and wrap up those challenges as well.”
Industry stakeholders who would like to be involved in the research can contact Huffman via email at AHuffman@trucking.org. She said ATRI hopes to publish the findings of the research by next March – just in time for Women’s History Month.
According to the group’s website, its mission is to “conduct transportation research, with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient and viable transportation system.”
Women of Trucking Advisory Board
ATRI isn’t the only group with a keen interest in addressing the barriers women face within the trucking industry.
Formed in August 2022, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board hopes to give FMCSA perspective on challenges facing women in the industry and to open the door for new generations of female truckers.
The creation of the board was mandated by Congress as part of 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with a goal of making recommendations to FMCSA on how to recruit and retain more women in the industry.
It was announced during the board’s Aug. 14 meeting that the 15-person board will be thinned down to six for a “Final Report Committee,” which will prepare the final report for FMCSA. Members of that committee include:
- Joyce Sauer Brenny, founder and president, Brenny Transportation, Inc. and Brenny Specialized, Inc.
- Dianne McNair-Smith, CEO, 3 Girls Trucking Academy
- Kellylynn McLaughlin, professional driver, Clean Harbors, Inc.
- Sharae Moore, founder/president, SHE Trucking Foundation
- Nicole Ward, co-founder, African American Women in Trucking Association
- Soledad Munoz Smith, vice president of operations, Munoz Trucking
The board’s next meeting will be its last with a topic of consideration. After that, the Final Report Committee will compile the recommendations from all previous meetings. The board’s statutes dictate that the report be filed within two years of the 2021 infrastructure law being enacted, putting the deadline in November 2023. LL