The trucking industry is better suited now more than ever to welcome women into the profession.
There’s no doubt that the trucking industry has been dominated by men. Today, women comprise between just 5-6% of over-the-road truck drivers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the industry has significantly changed over the last 20 years. Fortunately, the trucking industry, and Continental Express in particular, is better-suited than ever to welcome women into this rewarding profession.
If you picture a truck driver, you may envision a certain gender, stature, personality or look, but the traditional stereo-types about truck drivers are outdated and frankly, untrue. Women (and men) from all walks of life are finding joy in a trucking career. Opportunely, Continental Express and the trucking industry have made some significant improvements, which has made the profession more appealing -especially for women.
Physical Demands Are No Longer A Significant Issue
Twenty years ago it may have taken some brawn to navigate an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, but that really is not the case anymore. There is very little physical exertion involved in operating a commercial tractor today. Women are often smaller in stature than men, but that is no longer a barrier to operating a tractor-trailer. Some of the best professional truck drivers are less than 5’5” tall, and this is because the majority of the new trucks today can be maneuvered with the push of a button. Moreover, many companies, Continental Express included, have many trucks with automatic transmissions in their fleet. In fact, Continental has almost solely purchased trucks with automatic transmissions the past few years. Heavy lifting requirements are also often less strenuous than they used to be for many in the industry. Continental Express primarily hauls no-touch freight, which means drivers are not loading or unloading heavy cargo. The physical demands and efficiencies have gotten a lot better and have made the industry much more appealing to women.
Safety Has Become A Primary Focus for the Industry
Women are naturally cautious and detail oriented. Thus, they also tend to be naturally safety minded, both in terms of the safety of their equipment and their personal safety- which is so important and one of the many reasons women are desired in the industry. Continental purchases approximately 50 brand-new Freightliner tractors each year. The new trucks are extremely efficient, comfortable and most importantly- safe. These new trucks are all equipped with the Detroit 5.0 Assurance Suite of Safety Systems, which makes the new Freightliner Cascadia trucks one of the safest on the market- active braking, adaptive cruise and lane assist are all included. At Continental, we have created an entire corporate culture around safety because safety is our #1 priority. Nothing take precedence over ensuring that our drivers make it safely home to their families.
We also understand that personal safety is particularly important to female drivers. For this reason, we have a generous pet policy. We know that many women like to travel with a dog in the truck with them. This is the primary reason we created our pet policy several years back.
Pay and Benefits Have Significantly Improved
The industry as a whole has significantly increased the overall pay package for professional drivers. A career in this industry is a great way for a woman to provide for herself and/or her family, without having to rely upon a significant other. Continental Express OTR drivers earned an average of $75,000 last year and our top driver earned over $101,000! How many other industries can say that? Not to mention that we offer FREE health insurance to our over-the-road irregular route drivers and we have a 401K with a generous company match.
“Work-Life Balance” is Recognized as a Real Thing
We’ve all heard of “work-life balance,” but it seems as if employers have not made it a real priority until recently. Carriers, shippers and receivers have started working together to create more consistent and sustainable routes for drivers. With that said, Continental Express offers many dedicated route options for our drivers that provide them with consistency and stability, thereby allowing them to get home to take care of family needs daily or weekly, as desired. Moreover, our OTR drivers get 4 weeks paid vacation from day one starting with our company!
Technology Makes the Profession More Appealing to Women
The advances in technology have also made this a great time to enter the trucking profession as a woman. Long gone are the days when you had to find a payphone at a truck stop in order to schedule a time to call home a few times a week. Today, with smartphones and tablets, drivers can easily Facetime and stay in-touch with friends and family-which is something women greatly value. Moreover, there are numerous support groups for female professional drivers, such as Women in Trucking, that allow women with similar careers, who face similar challenges, stay connected through social media and via other channels on a regular basis.
A Professional Driving Career Allows Any Woman to Take Control of Her Own Destiny
Finally, a career as a professional driver is one that allows any woman to be her own person and take control of her own destiny. It is a career that plays a significant role in the American economy, and even though sometimes women may have to have a little thicker skin than our counterparts in other industries, a professional driving career is a profession that any woman can be proud of, and one that is greatly admired.