Women comprise an estimated 1.6 per cent of the Australian heavy vehicle driver workforce. The issue is not about women failing in the system but rather the system failing women.
It’s no secret the sector is suffering from a lack of skilled drivers, so supporting greater numbers of Australian women into heavy vehicle driving careers will go a long way to addressing these shortages.
Certainly, there are multiple layers of complexity around the issue including gender bias which our research shows, continues to exclude women during job applicant screening – with many more locked out post-interview in preference for their male colleagues.
Studies also suggest women downplay their skills and experience, whilst men do the opposite, and it’s this genetic hardwiring that also contributes to significant disparity in female heavy vehicle driver numbers.
Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA) regularly fields calls from women who know the odds are stacked against them and the evidence is irrefutable. Our research tells us there are too many self-funded, licensed female drivers out there earning a living in other sectors. The industry mantra “come back when you have three years’ experience” still ringing in their ears.
The organisation has been structured to give a greater voice to female heavy vehicle drivers with the WiTA Facebook page one of the fastest growing social media industry networking platforms.
This is a place where female drivers, licensed unemployed women and women considering trucking careers come together to discuss issues and barriers, best practice and also to share details of possible entry points to get that elusive foot in the door.
The time has come to move beyond lip service and to begin the task of implementing integrated gender diversity strategies suited to the needs of 21st century Australian women.
Across 2022, WiTA will be looking to engage with the sector to drive improved strategies, programmes and actions on the ground to develop greater fit-for-purpose approaches to encourage, recruit and support more Australian women into trucking careers.
It’s encouraging and commendable to see the initiatives some organisations are introducing to change their workplace and organisational cultures, not only to attract female drivers but also to help them to thrive.
There’s still much work to be done.
Lyndal Denny is a truck driver and CEO of Women in Trucking Australia.