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While women see the industry one way, men perceive it quite differently

Women’s participation in the trucking industry has faced numerous challenges over the years, including behaviors inconsistent with tolerance and respect, as well as lack of equity and opportunities in a workplace that often becomes hostile to women trying to enter or establish themselves in it.

A recent study conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) identified the main obstacles preventing women from being included in this industry. In addition to highlighting these issues, the study revealed a significant discrepancy in the perceptions of surveyed drivers. While women see the industry one way, men perceive it quite differently.

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Key differences between men and women in the transportation industry

The survey for the study included responses from 1,458 drivers, 82 carriers, and 8 training schools. One of the notable differences is the percentage of women in the industry; according to ATRI statistics, this percentage decreased to 6.9% in 2023, compared to 8.1% in 2022. To illustrate this difference with an example based on the number of respondents:

Out of the 1,458 interviewed, 6.9% are women, approximately 100 women. This means the remaining 1,358 respondents are men, highlighting a significant imbalance.

Although the study identified 6 main categories grouping the major challenges for women in the industry, differences lie in the order in which these problems are perceived by women and men. The percentages reveal an imbalance in each gender’s priorities, reflecting the lack of opportunities and spaces designed specifically for women. Here are some of those perceptions: 

En la imagen se muestra una mujer camionera

Reasons for leaving the sector by gender

Former truckers surveyed identified three main reasons for leaving the sector. While over 50% of men cited retirement as the primary reason, for women, the main reason is family commitments and the desire to spend more time at home. The percentage differences are significant:

  • Family reasons: women 36.4%, men 22%
  • Desire to spend more time at home: women 31.2%, men 13%
  • Harassment or discrimination: women 18%, men 4%
 

These percentages underscore the different experiences each gender faces in the trucking industry.

Priorities for women truckers

ATRI asked respondents about their priorities in the sector, inquiring about aspects that motivate them to remain part of it or improvements they would like to see implemented. While both women and men listed competitive salaries and benefits as their primary priority (58.7% for women and 55.3% for men), the difference lies in the second priority.

52% of women respondents identified “a strong emphasis on safety systems and personal safety” as their second priority, whereas only 18.2% of men selected this option. In third place, 48% of women mentioned “the opportunity to come home every night,” contrasting with 9.4% of men who chose this option.

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These factors highlight the urgent need for labor policies that support work-life balance to retain and attract more women to the trucking industry. It is also crucial to create a safe work environment that promotes ongoing development for women within this sector. The percentages reveal a discrepancy in each gender’s needs and roles, often making it challenging for women to balance work and household responsibilities simultaneously, something men typically find easier to separate.

While efforts are being made to address these issues, much work remains to create an inclusive environment where women feel respected, supported, and able to thrive. By addressing these disparities head-on and implementing policies that prioritize safety, equity, and work-life balance, the industry can begin to overcome its historical barriers and harness the full potential of all its workforce members, regardless of gender.

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