Friday, April 20, 2018

Lighter Load: Women have to work harder, do more than men, just to be equal

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Female drivers all dressed in red t-shirts at the Women in Trucking meeting at the MATS show in Louisville after hearing from the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Anne Ferro. (Courtesy Add Media: PAUL HARTLEY)
Female drivers all dressed in red t-shirts at the Women in Trucking meeting at the MATS show in Louisville after hearing from the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Anne Ferro. (Courtesy Add Media: PAUL HARTLEY)

The saying goes that "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good." And in trucking it may just be true.

It’s a man’s world, ladies. At least it has been for what seems like forever.

Men, if you are still with me, keep reading.

Women in the U.S. have had to fight for rights that were granted to men without a second thought, by men, of course.

And if women and men were treated the same, there wouldn’t be any reason to have a Women in Trucking group.

I understand that if you asked 10 men and 10 women to lift a certain amount of weight, that more than likely more men than women would be able to do it. But what I’m writing about isn’t about who can bench press more, it’s about who can get the job done.

In a study of British and American employees it was proven that women have to work harder just to have any chance to be considered equal.

Sociologists Elizabeth Gorman of the University of Virginia, and Julie Kmec of Washington State University, found that no matter how they sliced the data and controlled certain variables the conclusion was the same: women say they have to work harder than men.

Gorman and Kmec compared their findings to research about attitudes and beliefs held about men and women in the workplace.

“We know that people give lower marks to an essay, a painting or a résumé when it has a woman’s name on it,” Gorman said.  “And when a man and a woman work together on a project, people assume the man contributed more than the woman did.  Even when a woman’s work is indisputably excellent, people don’t believe she’s good — they think she got lucky. In light of this previous research, it makes sense to conclude that women have to work harder to win their bosses’ approval.”

"We argue that the association between sex and reported required work effort is best interpreted as reflecting stricter performance standards imposed on women, even when women and men hold the same jobs," said the researchers in the paper, "We (Have to) Try Harder: Gender and Required Work Effort in Britain and the United States.”

A lot of experimental research has shown that people rate the same performance as better when told it was done by a man.  It follows that women have to do better than a man in order to get the same evaluation. Here we see how this plays out in the effort women must put in at work, Gorman added.

"This is what women are up against. They have to prove themselves," Gorman said.

The statement in the survey about required work effort was not one in which employees were comparing themselves to the opposite sex, noted Gorman. It was also not asking for a perception of how hard the work is or how much effort they actually exerted.

"Our focus is on required work effort," the sociologists wrote in their article, "the effort that an employee is expected to exert in order to perform her or his job at a level that is satisfactory to the employer. It is important to distinguish required effort from an employee’s actual exerted effort."

As a woman, I know the struggles of women. I have experienced this type of discrimination.

I believe, for the most part, it’s been a good old boys club and if you aren’t a good old boy, you probably know what I mean.

But I also think women play into this on some level. Maybe it’s because society has taught us this behavior. Perhaps it’s a survival skill.

I also think that the good old boys club is going away in many circles over the generations, but that trucking may be one of the last to phase it out.

I’d say that overall the trucking industry is one in which there is a divide in men and women. I’ve heard it said many times that trucking is a man’s job. And perhaps in general men are more suited to driving a truck and being out on the road for weeks or months at a time.

But don’t believe a woman can’t do the job just as good as a man. I’ve interviewed many female drivers and the only comment I’ve received from them regarding men is that they don’t respect them and say things to them that are demeaning. That’s not something that’s isolated to drivers, I know from experience having had truck drivers say horrible things to me when I’m at a truck stop seeking interviews for The Trucker.

Ellen Voie, president of Women in Trucking, said that when women registered for the salute at the Mid-America Trucking Show they were asked what were some of their biggest challenges as a female driver. Here are some of the responses Voie shared with me:

• Fairness and attitude

• Men look over you more so they think you're not a driver or you can't do the work

• Equal rights

• Respect

• Acceptance of ability

• Getting male drivers to stop treating us like lot lizards and respect us

• Male truckers

• Having a sense of humor with less intelligent drivers (men)

• Being treated equally

• People understanding that a woman can own her own truck

• Respect from company

• To be appreciated as a professional driver

• Men paying respect

• Dealing in men not believing in women

• Gender prejudice and harassment

• Respect from shippers and receivers

• Proving to men I can do this job as well as they can

• Getting male drivers to accept me, and

• Abuse and harassment due to being a woman in trucking.

“Women drivers feel that they aren't treated as professionals and that they have to prove themselves,” Voie said. “I agree, and that's coming from my experience as a woman in management in the industry. As a traffic manager in the ’80s people assumed that I didn't know as much about shipping as my male counterparts. What they didn't appreciate is that I had received formal training (diploma in traffic and transportation management).”

If only there were an easy solution to the challenges we face as women. But we have a couple of choices. We can keep working as hard as we do and continue to prove that we can do whatever jobs we have no matter what they say, or we can give up.

I choose to keep on trucking. How about you?

Barb Kampbell of The T

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