NTI survey shines a light on the hurdles and opportunities to advancement for women in trucking

This Women’s History Month, The National Transportation Institute conducted a survey to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences and challenges encountered by women in the trucking industry. While progress has been made, there remains a clear need for ongoing improvements to make trucking a more appealing and secure career choice for women of all backgrounds, ages, and family situations.

Women in various roles across the industry, from professional drivers to those in leadership positions, emphasized the importance of improved work-life balance, specialized programs, and opportunities for professional development. Their insights shed light on how the industry and your fleet can attract more women to the industry, eliminate obstacles they face, and build opportunities for them to grow and excel. 

Work-life balance

The survey revealed the ongoing struggle faced by women in finding a balance between their work commitments and personal life responsibilities. Many respondents shared the challenges of managing long work hours while also fulfilling their roles in their families. The survey underscored a strong desire among women for increased flexibility in their work arrangements. 

“Women are expected to be all things to all people. We also struggle to set healthy boundaries, be assertive, say no, and we as a gender, rarely advocate for ourselves.”
“As a driver, I have many 12+ hour days. Scheduling doctor appointments and family time is an extreme challenge. Schedule flexibility is absolutely necessary.”
“My role and my leadership at this time has been amazing with understanding the balance of being a single mother who also works full time and is devoted to her career. However, in many interviews for promotions or opportunities to advance and many conversations with male leadership, it has become fairly clear that there isn’t much room for advancement with flexibility.”
“14 hours, 5 days a week is outrageous. This is expected for home daily drivers. Childcare is a challenge.”


Career advancement 

While some women expressed optimism about career advancement opportunities, others highlighted persistent barriers. The lack of diversity in leadership positions was a concern for many survey respondents. 

“We still operate within a male-centered paradigm. If you look at Senior/Executive Leadership at the majority of larger transportation companies, you will find a lack of diversity. Few women are in positions of power, and even fewer women of color are present at top-levels. We are also still battling the historical ramifications of traditional gender roles with women as the primary parent and caregiver, as well as the ‘homemaker’. Until these things change, we must continue [striving for solutions].”
“My company supports the growth of women in all stages of the organization.”
“Most of the people in our office are women in all roles. Drivers are another story. There are only one out of 100.”
“I see 99% of our C-level execs, leaders and decision makers are male. They often don’t see or put themselves in positions to see and raise up women in the workplace for the next opportunities. The women have to seek out and pursue promotions whereas many of the men in the leadership roles were hand chosen.”
“There are many options to go into management for men and women on a variety of levels.”


Professional development 

Responses regarding programs or initiatives aimed at supporting women’s professional development varied among survey participants. Suggestions included creating women’s leadership programs with executive involvement, improving support for caregivers, emphasizing the significance of mentorship, and more.

“I would like to see accommodations across the board in everything from employer clothing (often men’s as the standard), women’s leadership programs, support for caregivers, etc.”
“Yes we have a women’s group, but no high level women (or men) are involved to push forward any initiatives or support.”
“I wish that I had mentors, especially strong female mentors earlier in my career. My mentors both within my company and externally have been immensely helpful in my growth and progression.”
“Better support of family/home time.”


Attracting more women

The survey respondents offered suggestions on how to create interest in trucking jobs among more women. These ideas included establishing support groups, providing safety classes, promoting work-life balance, and offering schedule flexibility. Transparent communication about the realities of the job and having women in key leadership positions were also recommended to make the industry more appealing to women.

“I think there should be more support groups and safety classes to make women feel it’s a safe space they can work in and a lot of money could be earned.”
“Change expectations, expand benefits, work to improve work-life balance (especially for parents and caregivers), tailored programs and development, DEI+ cultures that promote inclusivity. Visibility of women in top leadership roles.”  
“Be honest with people when you’re hiring and don’t offer pie in the sky expectations. It is a lifestyle that is what you make it.”
“Better work/home time balance. These companies are desperate for drivers and hate to send you for home time. It shouldn’t be an issue to get home after you do your time, but most of the time it is. Dispatchers grumble about it, etc.” 
“Flexible schedules, mentorship programs, self-defense and safety on the road training.”



In case you missed it earlier this month, NTI President & CEO Leah Shaver penned a blog on what she sees as the most consequential issue for women entering our industry and finding a secure career: childcare. Join the conversation about this important topic here

For more resources on how trucking can better support women, check out our “Women & The Wheel Series” from last March. 

Are you a member of the press and working on an article, video, podcast, webinar, or other content for which you’d like to reference NTI data or interview a source from The National Transportation Institute?
Email us at press@driverwages.com.


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