When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S. in March of 2020, millions of individuals lost their jobs or were forced to stay at home. This especially affected women, as many were stuck at home coordinating everything from elderly parents’ medical issues to home-school activities for their children. One year later, we’ve made great strides in bringing back jobs in a variety of roles and industries. And as women resume their careers, great opportunities can be found in industries traditionally filled by a predominantly male labor pool.
Industries such as trucking, transportation, automotive and aerospace have long been dominated by men. But it’s the sectors that have traditionally offered more positions for women — such as hospitality, travel, and catering — that have particularly been hit hard by the pandemic.
Now is the time for women to consider industries like trucking and transportation to advance their careers, to take advantage of changes that these industries have undergone in recent years.
There’s a significant shortage of drivers in the trucking industry today, and many companies are looking hire more women to fill those roles. According to a 2019 report by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the industry was short roughly 60,000 drivers in 2018, a 20% increase from the previous year estimate of just over 50,000. ATA warns that if current trends hold, the shortage could swell to over 160,000 by 2028. Driver opportunities abound for women, as do those in a number of other areas in transportation. To a great extent, the trucking industry has shed its long-held image of being filled with old men driving dirty trucks. The rigs are now state of the art in many cases, and companies that oversee a multitude of operations are brimming with careers in related disciplines such as finance, asset management, procurement, legal, technology, data, and analytics.
In particular, women are playing an important role in shaping the technology that’s key to the future success of the transportation industry.
I had long hoped for a professional career that drew on my expertise in data and analytics, but didn’t initially think I would find it in the transportation industry. Yet many companies in that space are beginning to see the value of a gender-balanced skillset. In my position today, I use my background in analytics and statistical modeling to generate personalized reports for clients and bank partners. This allows us to examine cost metrics and establish an optimal fleet-modernization strategy.
I began my career in the consumer goods business, but soon realized that my skillset was better suited for a B2B industry such as transportation. There, advanced business intelligence and data analytics are deployed to assist enterprise-level companies in making decisions that improve the bottom line.
A growing number of companies in the trucking and transportation industry recognize the unique skillsets that women offer. Organizations such as the Women in Trucking Association have been active in advocating for women to learn more about career opportunities in that area. “The mission of Women in Trucking is simply to increase the ranks of women working in the industry,” says president and chief executive officer Ellen Voie. “Companies that recognize the importance of gender diversity have been proven to experience greater net returns, but more importantly, they make a focused effort to attract, retain and promote women.”
The U.S. economy needs an efficient transportation system now more than ever. As more gender-diverse career opportunities arise in transportation companies, organizations will discover even greater potential for growth through the advancement and empowerment of a more diverse workforce.
Jackie Jacobs is senior fleet transaction analyst and project manager for Fleet Advantage, a provider of business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management to truck fleets.