Trucking has typically been seen as a male-dominated industry. However, the number of women in it is beginning to increase—as drivers and service and technician professionals.
Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) says features for improved comfort, safety and productivity are helping with this growth. Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS), for instance, is an ultra-responsive steering system which lessens steering force up to 85%. It helps make the physical aspect of driving a truck easier for both men and women, the company says.
Operator environments within these vehicles are becoming more comfortable overall, again benefiting drivers of both sexes. More emphasis has been placed on the placement of vehicle controls, placing those used most often within easy reach of the driver. Adjustable seating to fit all body sizes is more common, as well.
Read the article "Safe, Comfortable and Efficient Roadway Travel" to learn more about safety and comfort improvements of today's trucks.
Integration of automated manual transmissions (AMT) is also on the rise due to the ease of use they offer. With the increased comfort and vehicle operation comes productivity and safety benefits in addition to happier drivers. These are all important factors for attracting new talent, as well as driver retention.
“Safety is a top priority and core value of Volvo Trucks and it is also a top concern of drivers, purchasing managers and fleet owners,” says Christina Ameigh, Regional Vice President, Western Region at Volvo Trucks North America. “They want the comfort of knowing they’re putting their driver behind the wheel of the safest truck on the road.”
Grease, Gears & Cutting-Edge Technology
The need for innovative connectivity solutions and advanced-technology-driven features are a major reason behind an influx of higher-skilled job opportunities for women in the industry. Kim Mesfin, President at Affinity Truck Center, notes that Volvo Trucks is often recognized for its ability to blend trucks and technology, which creates an entirely different type of job for people who may have previously only seen the industry as grease and gears. “If you look and spend time reading about these trucks and Volvo’s ability to communicate over-the-air, it is very cutting-edge,” says Mesfin.
For example, Volvo’s Remote Programming and Remote Diagnostics capabilities come standard on the new VNL and VNR models, enabling customers to receive updates over-the-air, during a short meal or operational break, all while having 24/7 access to Volvo-trained advisors. Mesfin, having previously worked in communications, also believes that the application of marketing could bring in the diverse talent needed to sustain the tech boom the industry is experiencing. “The dealership environment has never really tried to employ marketing to modernize the perception of the industry and illustrate that is changing rapidly,” Mesfin adds. “As all of these dealerships start hiring marketing personnel, the platform, operations and communication will drastically change, drawing in a more diverse and talented workforce.”
Benefits of the Business
Kirsten Swift, Account Manager at Advantage Truck Center, notes the recent uptick in female mechanics and drivers, crediting the increase to wage equality, freedom to work independently and flexible schedules. Professional female truck drivers are paid the same as their male counterparts and have significant opportunities to support themselves and their families. Benefits often include healthcare, paid leave and 401(k) packages.
Chelsea Pottle Demmons, Vice President of Pottle’s Transportation, also pointed to flexibility as an essential element of the job for many female drivers. “We have a lot of local drivers that are home every night,” says Demmons. “We make it a priority here specifically, that no matter what, our drivers are home weekly.”
That flexibility is also a benefit for the young professionals who want to see the country from the road, adds Ameigh. “Professional drivers have an opportunity to travel, experience different cities and work with professional organizations that offer great benefits and flexibility,” says Ameigh. “If there was ever a time when the trucking industry was clearly a driver’s market, it’s today.”
A growing industry requires more talent
Trucking has always been an important part of the economy as a means of shipping goods from one place to another. Increasing consumer demands—particularly in regards to the rise of e-commerce—means even more trucks, and thus drivers, are required. It's estimated nearly 22 billion tons of goods will need to be carried in 2029, a 35% increase in freight volume from today. This will make attracting and retaining drivers increasingly more important.
With OEMs like Volvo developing vehicles people want to drive, they are hoping to help meet this growing need for drivers.