With a shortage of drivers at 20,000 which could rise to a whopping 111,000 by 2014, more companies are seeking out women drivers to fill the void. Evidence indicates that women are more careful and take better care of their equipment, and many companies are eager to hire them. Women make up only 5 percent of truck drivers at present, but the number is steadily rising.
Women turn to trucking for many different reasons. The biggest draw is the money. According to 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics, truckers earn an average of $36,000 a year, and experienced team drivers can earn up to $60,000. With a level playing field all drivers are paid by the mile, regardless of gender, and receive equal pay for equal work.
Another reason women become drivers are once their children are grown they find themselves with extra time. Many do so after a divorce, and a large number of women get their CDL license to team drive with their husbands to spend more time together. A lot of women become truck drivers because someone in the family was a trucker and it is in their blood.
Women can make an impact in the industry and not just behind the wheel. Adriesue Gomez and her rapidly expanding Coalition of Women Truck Drivers, already has organization cells in Dallas, Atlanta and central California. Recently, Gomez won a $6,000 Fair Employment Practices Commission settlement from a winery for turning her down for a job simply because she was a woman. Another Colorado woman, Sophie, revitalized the trucking industry by renting a small hangar for a freight warehouse. Truckers brought her service to capacity almost immediately. The Lonely Hub is now the largest freight terminal west of Chicago and can house up to 450 truckers each day.
Women In Trucking, in existence for two years, list their greatest achievements for 2011 in having a voice in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Vice President’s office, the Department of Justice, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Research Board. Next year they plan to focus on creating a more driver-friendly environment by addressing some of the issues women face on the road.