Currently, 400,000 drivers are needed in the trucking industry, a number that will grow larger as the economy recovers. According to Voie, women are 50 percent of the working population, yet make up only 5.2 percent of American drivers, and less than one percent of maintenance professionals.
Voie said in a WIT webinar Thursday that the women who could potentially fill many important roles in trucking don't feel welcome in the industry for a variety of reasons, from discrimination to safety. WIT aims to change that by campaigning to eliminate the gender-biased image of trucking and minimize the obstacles that women face.
"We are not showing women in trucks often enough," said Voie, noting the stereotypical image of the trucker as a middle-aged white male. To help combat this problem, WIT is designing an advertisement contest for ads aimed at potential women drivers. WIT is also applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS in order to provide a range of scholarships to prospective drivers, maintenance technicians, safety experts and leaders.
Efforts are also under way to ergonomically redesign cabs to better accommodate women with a closer dashboards and lower cabinets among other features. WIT also believes drivers should not have to perform off-loading duties - an aspect which will help attract more men as well as women to the industry.
A third part of the WIT program is promoting the accomplishments of women already in trucking. The first Influential Woman of the Year Award was given to Rochelle Gorman, CEO of CalArk International, last month. The award recognized Gorman's achievements tripling CalArk's revenues while also raising a family.
Women In Trucking was founded in 2007 by Ellen Voie. Board members include representatives -- both male and female -- from fleets, suppliers, and associations. Membership is open to both individuals and corporations.