It's time to welcome women into the industry
By David A. Kolman
There is a fairly prevalent attitude throughout the male-dominated trucking industry that women and trucking are not a good mix. It’s common to hear: “Women have no place in trucking,” or “Women just aren’t made for trucking,” or “I’m not sharing a bathroom with one of them.”
The attitude goes beyond words. Many men in trucking seem to derive pleasure from having women truckers prove themselves. These macho types give women burdensome assignments — backing into the most difficult dock, running a full load of “fingerprint” freight, delivering to unsafe locations, sending them to companies that have no facilities for women, and so on.
Discrimination and harassment are out of line, but difficult assignments are a good thing. They make women drivers tougher and better at the job. Ponder the words of Charlotte Whitton, a Canadian social worker, politician and feminist: “Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.” Then she added, “Luckily, this is not difficult.”
One company I know of does a lot of work transporting marine containers. Closing the doors on these can be very difficult for a man, much less a woman. Yet, one of the company’s more diminutive female drivers has an effective method for dealing with this. She is skilled at “influencing” men to help her. She explained: “I would rather have beauty than brains because the average man can see better than he can think.”
For women who want to make a career in trucking, I say: “Great choice. Welcome on board and let me know how I can be of assistance.” Don’t let the attitudes of the day prevent you from getting into the industry. Realize that being new to anything is challenging and stressful. Understand that this will be especially true in trucking due to circumstances that work against female newbies.
For the last two decades, the trucking industry has experienced a national shortage of truck drivers, and that has become a limiting factor in the operations of many companies. A high driver shortage can cripple the U.S. economy. If women can help fill this void, why not welcome them with open arms and helping hands? Become a mentor. I always go out of my way to help anyone new to trucking, especially women. My parents taught me chivalry and gentlemanliness at a very young age and, I’m proud to note, I am still a practitioner of these lost arts. I embrace any opportunity to offer support, advice and guidance. I take great pride and get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I can bring someone along. Try it sometime. You’ll be hooked.
For those who still believe women don’t belong in trucking, think back to World War II. Women successfully did jobs only men had done before, and that helped the U.S. win the war.