Womanpower: the Solution to the Manpower/Capacity Shortage

Back in July, the Collaborator blog rang the alarm on the Looming Capacity Nightmare of 2017.  Citing the Walmart/Amazon feud, the ELD mandate and the aging driver pool, the piece was followed up by more evidence in a post reporting on spiking spot market rates.  Since July, the aftermath of three horrendous hurricanes have further taxed capacity and Transport Topics reports truck tonnage jumped 8% in August while driver turnover soars due to a dearth of manpower.  With all signs pointing to serious pain among transportation operations due to lack of manpower in drivers’ seats, we’re suggesting the solution will come from the introduction of womanpower to the equation.

Truck driving is an occupation dominated by the menfolk with fewer than 7% of drivers’ seats occupied by women compared to the 47% of all US occupations held by women (according to the US Dept. of Labor).  Remove 40% more women from all other job roles and there’d be a crisis of employment in every industry.  Women workers are integral to the health of the labor force and overall economy. So it is surprising that they are so under-represented in the trucking industry, facing an unprecedented shortfall in available workers; a condition with outsized ramifications for all industries.

The American Trucking Association agrees, noting that attracting more women to driving careers could help ease the shortage the industry faces on the whole with the current driver deficit pegged at approximately 48,000 drivers.   While these positions have historically been regarded as “man’s work” and the trucking industry has always been a characteristically male-dominated field, there are no significant reasons why in actuality, women couldn’t be equally productive and successful in the driver’s seat.

There is strong precedent for the entry of women into once male-dominated fields easing labor shortages.  While there still exists a troubling gap between the number of men versus the number of women working in tech and IT-related fields – a field also suffering from an acute shortage of workers – women have been increasingly attracted to tech jobs and have been making a difference in helping plug the skills gap in tech.  Moreover, anecdotal evidence from the headquarters of UltraShipTMS, where roughly half the development, testing, training and support staff is comprised of women, suggests that the influx of women into roles in short supply can be a boon to organizations struggling to fill critical seats.

In the case of the trucking industry, these critical seats are behind the wheel of semi tractors.  As Eleanor Lamb writes for Transport Topics, “Emphasizing Importance of Trucking Could Draw More Women to Industry”.  Her piece offers suggestions on how the Trucking Industry could make better inroads with women and, in doing so, help to ease the mother of all capacity shortages about to inflict agony on American shippers.