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Already backing safer truck parking in Congress, the new Women In Motion initiative is taking action within days of forming to improve the working environment for women in trucking.
Launched July 15 by American Trucking Associations, Women In Motion wrote a letter July 19 to Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), leaders on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, in support of the bipartisan amendment Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act under consideration in Congress. The measure was approved by a House committee on July 20.
“In speaking with women truck drivers past and present, one of their chief concerns is their safety while on the road. No single issue encapsulates that worry more clearly than the severe lack of truck parking capacity nationwide,” noted the ATA Women In Motion Advisory Board, adding that the legislation can “open the doors” to historically shift trucking’s workforce to empower women nationally to pursue rewarding careers in an essential industry.
The 18-member advisory board is a Who’s Who of a wide range of women in the trucking industry.
The program is called Women In Motion because it is “an apt description” of the trucking industry, ATA President Chris Spear said.
“The trucking industry relies on women — whether in the boardroom, as a technician, or behind the wheel — and we believe that by highlighting the many contributions the women already in trucking make, we can demonstrate what a rewarding and lucrative career path it can be for millions of others,” Spear added. “I’m pleased that ATA is recognizing these individuals who are critical to our industry, and looking for solutions to make their jobs even more gratifying and more secure.”
Elisabeth Barna, ATA’s executive vice president of industry affairs, said Women In Motion has a national footprint and extensive network — from its advisory board, state trucking associations, ATA’s members, Capitol Hill lobbyists and other state and local experts.
“We feel that we can make a difference in the policy realm, whether it’s safer truck parking or expanding policies to support women in the recruiting and training world, and looking at different policies that make it more attractive for women to join the industry,” Barna said.
The program also will provide recognition to companies with best practices in hiring women and government officials who back legislation to increase jobs for women in trucking.
“We do ride-alongs with the media, policymakers and business leaders. When Congress is in recess, we’ll look to host terminal tours that helps in learning about the industry and showcasing that women work in our industry, which is a great career option for them,” Barna said. “The more you know someone in the industry, the better perception you have.”
She noted that there are many opportunities for women in a variety of well-paying jobs in the trucking industry.
“If a woman professional driver wants to be home with her children or be home every night, there are opportunities through the different jobs like less-than-truckload, or city pickup and delivery. If they want to work in an office environment, there’s everything from dispatch to being a member of the safety team or recruiting or diesel technicians,” Barna said.
Women In Motion will host webinars quarterly for women drivers, technicians and companies “talking about leadership, how folks got into the industry, how they developed in the industry,” she said, noting there is an overall industrywide shortage in drivers and diesel technicians.
Although women currently make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, they represent roughly 7.8% (or 262,392) of truck drivers, according to ATA.
In addition, 8% of women are freight firm owners, 21.8% of women make up non-truck driver transportation jobs and 23.5% of transportation managers and executives are women, according to industry statistics.
Its website, www.trucking.org/women-in-motion (featuring members of its speakers bureau, resources and videos), notes that the trucking industry needs 80,000 drivers to serve the nation’s economic needs. It projects the trucking industry must hire 1.1 million new drivers to keep pace with future retirements and economic growth.
Baylor Trucking President Cari Baylor said as a woman in this industry, she knows firsthand that, while trucking can be a tough job, it is a rewarding and important one.
“I’m glad to see ATA launching this new initiative to celebrate the contributions of the many women in our industry and advocate for issues such as safe truck parking that our industry deserves,” said Baylor, whose company was founded by her grandfather Chester in 1945 after his service in World War II.
The Women In Motion speakers bureau has over two dozen women trucking professionals (including six professional truck drivers) able to talk about their experiences in the industry and career opportunities with the media and at public and private events. Barna noted that details are being worked out regarding invitations that have already come in, including one from the West Virginia Trucking Association to have a woman professional truck driver speak at its September annual meeting.
Barna said speakers “not only will be doing media, but they will be going out and talking to others about why drive and why they like the industry.”
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