Female employment in transportation on the rise

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Updated Aug 11, 2022

More women are entering the transportation workforce, in both the board room and the driver's seat. 

According to data compiled and released by the Women In Trucking Association Tuesday, the 2022 WIT Index – the official industry barometer to benchmark and measure each year the percentage of women who make up critical roles in transportation – shows that 33.8% of C-suite executives in transportation companies are women, an increase of 1.5% from the last WIT Index measurement in 2019. The 2022 WIT Index shows 39.6% of company leaders (someone with supervisory responsibilities, including executives within the C-suite) are female.

The number of women in transportation and warehousing jobs has increased every month this year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, and is up more that 12% from July last year. 

"We’ve seen an increase due to the pandemic effects," said Ellen Voie, WIT president and chief executive officer. "Many women are coming from the service industry – hospitality, restaurants, convention centers – because those jobs aren’t/weren’t stable and they are concerned about the future due to the economy and talks of a recession. The increase reflects the loss of female workers in other 'traditional' careers, which were hit harder by the pandemic. We are thrilled to be able to have good paying jobs available and feel that our efforts to attract more women into the trucking industry is being realized."

Initiated in 2016, the WIT Index is comprised of average percentages of females in various roles that are reported by companies in transportation, including predominantly for-hire trucking companies, private fleets, transportation intermediaries, railroads, ocean carriers, equipment manufacturers, and technology companies. This data was confidentially gathered from January through April of 2022 from 180 participating companies, and percentages are reported only as aggregate totals of respondents.This year, WIT has expanded its collection on the percentage of women in additional functional roles, including operations, technicians, human resources and talent management, and marketing.

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This year’s WIT Index shows 31% of individuals serving on boards of directors are female, yet Voie noted larger companies in transportation tend to have a smaller percentage of women on their boards. Women make up a collective 23% of the boards of directors of the publicly traded asset-based carriers, according to Bloomberg. However, Voie noted these companies continue to make progress in diverse gender representation on their boards, as this was up from 22% in 2020 and 18% in 2019. The 2022 WIT Index shows 21% of respondents have no females on their boards.

Management isn't the only job segment enjoying an influx of female employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of female transportation and warehousing employees has climbed slightly each of the past three months, settling at 27.2% in July, and the overall unemployment rate among women – who hold roughly half of all jobs in the U.S. – was slightly lower than their male counterparts (3.4% vs. 3.5%). 

Voie notes that "an astonishing number of women are becoming drivers after leaving medical careers because they are burned out and just want to get away from the stress," she said, noting the appeal of transportation jobs that aren’t going away and cannot be outsourced.

"If the pandemic has a silver lining, it is the increase in the numbers of women seeking careers in transportation," Voie added. 

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].