A bipartisan bill in Congress could boost the prospects for women’s careers in transportation, at a time when female airplane pilots, truck drivers, train conductors, and ship captains retain a slim minority of jobs in the sector.
Lawmakers led by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently re-introduced a 2019 bill called the “Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act,” which would direct the leader of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to establish an advisory board to address ways to increase the ranks of women in trucking. Its co-sponsors include: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
According to the bill, that new FMCSA board would promote organizations and programs that provide education, training, mentorship, or outreach to women in the trucking industry, and that also recruit women into the trucking industry. The agency itself is now being led by a woman, the acting administrator Meera Joshi who was appointed by the Biden Administration to lead FMCSA until the Senate approves a permanent head.
Created in collaboration with Ellen Voie, the president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association Inc. (WIT), the bill is also backed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), two industry groups that frequently feud over business matters, but put their differences aside on this matter.
“This legislation not only aligns with WIT’s goals, but it has been an important and urgent objective for years, and today we are celebrating this success,” WIT’s Voie said in a statement. “This bill will help us create a more female-friendly environment in supply chain careers so we can not only attract and retain, but promote women in trucking. We have spent more than a decade working on these issues with little government support, so we are happy to elevate our efforts to the federal level.”
That support is critical in a sector where women represent less than seven percent of truck drivers and only a quarter of all transportation and warehousing jobs in trucking, although women currently make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, the ATA said.
“With a median salary of $54,585, health and retirement benefits, and potentially thousands of dollars in signing bonuses, trucking provides a stable, good-paying career to Americans. Empowering women to thrive in an industry that provides significant compensation and benefits packages achieves the twin aims of improving gender parity and tackling the growing truck driver shortage,” the ATA’s senior vice president for legislative affairs, Edwin J. Gilroy, said in a letter to lawmakers backing the bill.
Happy International Women's Day from your #WomenInTrucking community! Today, we #ChooseToChallenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. pic.twitter.com/XVPuCC2aPS— WomenInTrucking (@WomenInTrucking) March 8, 2021