Removing obstacles

John Randle
[email protected]

The only thing that sounds better to the ears of a driver recruiter than an available, good, safe driver is a pair of good, safe drivers.

And that often means that one half of the team is a woman. My wife would say it’s the better half, but the fact is that women make good truck drivers. That’s why Ellen Voie, chairman and founder of a new organization, Women in Trucking, wants to get the word out that her group is racking up new members at a rate that has exceeded her expectations. Not only have nearly 1,000 new members joined since the organization launched in March 2007, but 20 percent of the members are men.

Huh? Voie says men in the trucking industry are changing their attitudes toward female drivers. There’s a growing respect for the job women do, as more and more find that trucking offers a chance to get out from behind a desk and see the country with a job that’s always going to be in demand.

For a $25 yearly membership fee, you can be part of an organization that has three main goals: to celebrate the success of women in trucking, to help remove the obstacles still stacked against them and to encourage women to consider a career in trucking.

With the proliferation of more user-friendly equipment, physical strength and mechanical ability is not as crucial for either gender as it once was, and the growing population of women drivers is making an impact on the industry. But there’s still a long way to go before women overcome the often-negative image of a male dominated, unfriendly-to-women industry. Voie believes the time is right to change those preconceptions and that her group’s efforts will pay off for men as well as women in trucking. “We aren’t asking for special favors for women drivers,” she says. “Just treat them like you would want a family member of yours treated. This levels the playing field for all truckers and improves the image of the whole industry.”

Voie is passionate about the issues facing women truckers, and she hopes her non-profit will motivate the transportation industry to look closely at any obstacles that might prevent women (and men) from considering a career in trucking. She wants to shed light on some of the special challenges women face on the road, such as the lack of restroom parity at loading docks and in truckstop facilities, ergonomically designed cabs in the trucks, and equality in awards and recognition.

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