Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA) CEO Lyndal Denny has welcomed the establishment of the National Transport Commission’s National Women in Transport initiative which brings together a network of senior female transport leaders.
The recently launched program, representing all modes of transport, aims to showcase the work of women, tackle some of the negative perceptions and improve gender balance across the sector.
More women are urgently needed to work in the industry across a broad range of skills and in leadership roles, said Denny. Currently, women make up 20 per cent of the land transport labour pool and 4.5 per cent of CEOs.
Unpacking the issue even further, Denny said just 1.6 per cent of the heavy vehicle driver workforce are women, despite the fact that they hold 4 per cent of the nation’s heavy vehicle licences – a disconnect she says is not about women failing in the system, but rather the system failing women.
“WiTA regularly field calls from self-funded, licensed female drivers earning a living in other sectors – unable to get that elusive start in their chosen career,” Denny said.
“We’ve heard their frustration and whilst each of their stories are unique – there are many commonalities and wider lessons to learn.”
She added that the old adage – women cannot be what they cannot see – certainly rings true when it comes to truck driving.
With that in mind, WiTA has spent the past 26 months showcasing the extraordinary women who have and continue to make amazing contributions to the industry out on the road.
“These are women who actively inspire and enable opportunities for other women working at various points across the truck driving career spectrum,” Denny said.
As a result, WiTA has one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the industry with a monthly post reach on its Facebook page often exceeding 2 million.
Here you will find a thriving network of women seeking career advice, advice about coping as mums on the road and most importantly advice from experienced female drivers on how to succeed in this overwhelmingly male dominated sector.
“They say a picture speaks a thousand words and WiTA’s 2022 International Women’s Day Photographic Exposé saw the largest number of Australian female heavy vehicle drivers ever gather to celebrate their uniqueness and strength, their capabilities, skills and their resourcefulness in establishing successful careers in one of the most nation’s colourful and challenging vocations,” said Denny.
In the context of a rapidly changing and highly uncertain economic landscape, Denny said it’s not overstating things to describe current heavy vehicle driver shortages as critical.
“Gender balance is vital and at this point – for many organisations – it’s essential to their survival.
“Crisis presents opportunity and thankfully, the industry is finally starting to recognise women as the vital untapped resource they are.
“In 20 years’ time we hope to see a safe, professional, efficient gender balanced truck driver workforce responsive to the changing needs of the industry where the conversation will no longer be about gender but rather the capabilities of the driver.”
Women in Trucking Australia recognises the industry’s competitiveness depends on its ability to renew its primary source of competitive advantage – heavy vehicle drivers.
With that in mind, Denny said the organisation will not only continue to grow awareness of the crucial role women play behind the wheel, but also to put forward fresh ideas to eliminate barriers to employment, to create an environment for women to survive, to shut down the “misogyny pipeline” and ultimately “smash the glass bullbar”.
“We will continue our focus of engaging with industry to drive improved strategies, programs and actions on the ground to develop greater fit-for-purpose approaches to encourage, recruit and support more women into trucking careers,” she added.
“We applaud the efforts of all industry stakeholders setting the standard, embracing change and actively developing and implementing strategies to attract, recruit and retain female heavy vehicle drivers and welcome the opportunity to address that age-old question about ‘what women want’ in the context of heavy vehicle driving.”