What I’ve learned about how to get (and keep) women drivers

Ten years ago, the trucking industry didn’t categorize drivers regarding gender, race or age.  In fact, recruiters insisted that they were just looking for the “best” driver and the other factors weren’t important. Since then, we’ve learned so much about how to attract and retain female drivers, and what makes this process different for women as opposed to their male peers.

First, in our best practices study completed in late 2017, we learned that over 83 percent of women enter the trucking industry because they were introduced to driving from a family member or friend.

Typically, a husband or boyfriend will suggest to his partner that she should get her CDL and come out on the road with him. This information is significant, as it indicates women are much more informed about what to expect as a professional driver. She not only asks more questions, but she’s been exposed to the trucking industry through her spouse or friend. In one area, women are the same as men, and that is in regard to WHY they became professional drivers….for the money.  Women realize they can earn the same as men based on their work record (ie: miles, loads or hours.) In fact, women often earn more than men on an annual basis because they run more miles or work more hours.

Independent lifestyle and being able to travel (with a partner) were also reasons women cited for becoming professional drivers.

Women are more likely to feel their pay is fair and they aren’t as likely to feel underpaid as men.  Female drivers have a lower turnover rate and are less likely to switch carriers (according to StayMetrics Research). Stay Metrics has found that men leave the industry because of lack of home time, but this isn’t the case for women, because they already know what to expect.  For women, the top predictor of turnover is due to safety. In our research, women rated their level of safety (on a scale of 1-10) an average of 4.4.  Safety includes the company culture (dispatching during bad weather, for example, or sending the driver to a high crime area) as well as how well the equipment is maintained to prevent roadside breakdowns or maintenance failures.

There is one more characteristic regarding women that should be noted by every carrier.

A female driver ranks her relationship with her dispatcher higher in importance than male drivers.  Why is this the case?  Women are genetically wired to be more relationship oriented, more collaborative and team focused.  Her dispatcher is her connection to the company, so if she doesn’t feel that she is valued through this bond, she is more likely to leave.  However, if she has a high level of rapport with her dispatcher, she is more likely to stay with the carrier. We’ve come a long way in the past decade, but we still have a long way to go.  Women comprise less than eight percent of the driver population, so there is room for growth.  However, we know now that women are attracted to the industry differently than men and stay or leave for often very different reasons. We still want the best driver, but maybe more focus should be placed on attracting and retaining women into the trucking industry.  That’s the mission of the Women In Trucking Association as well.  For more information on how to join us and increase the ranks of women in trucking, visit www.womenintrucking.org

About the Author

Ellen Voie
Ellen Voie is President & CEO of the Women in Trucking Association. She is an internationally recognized speaker and authority on gender diversity and inclusion for women working in non-traditional careers in transportation. The Women In Trucking Association was formed to promote the employment of women in the trucking industry, to remove obstacles that might keep them from succeeding, and to celebrate the successes of its members. Editorial Note: Stay Metrics periodically offers guest blogs on its site to enhance our breadth of topics and bring in experts in their fields to help you and your business. Please assume that the opinions expressed are those of their author and do not necessarily constitute a company position by Stay Metrics.