WASHINGTON — The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act was reintroduced in Congress in late February by members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
“In Wisconsin, we make things, and we need to ensure we have a strong workforce to transport our goods to market,” Baldwin said. “Removing the barriers that get in the way of women pursuing and retaining careers in trucking is key. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Sen. Moran, because more job opportunities for Wisconsin women will lead to more economic security for working families.”
The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act (S.2858) was originally introduced Nov. 14, 2019, and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bipartisan legislation, designed to support women in the trucking industry, directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) to establish and facilitate a Women of Trucking Advisory Board to promote organizations and programs that (1) provide education, training, mentorship, or outreach to women in the trucking industry; and (2) recruit women into the trucking industry.
“Over the past year, we have relied on the essential service the trucking industry provides to transport critical resources to Kansas and across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moran said. “As the trucking industry continues to face a driver shortage, we must find new ways to recruit and retain drivers, including supporting women pursuing careers in trucking.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women make up 46.8% of the nation’s total workforce but make up just 24% of the U.S. trucking industry — and only 7% of drivers are women.
“Truckers are essential to keeping Nebraska’s economy running, but the industry is experiencing a shortage of drivers,” said Senator Fischer. “Examining ways to encourage more women to enter the trucking industry is good policy and could connect more women with good jobs.”
Tester noted that, while women are a growing force in transportation, they still face obstacles when pursuing careers in trucking.
“This bill is a hat trick, ensuring we’re breaking down barriers for Montana women, bringing more good-paying jobs to the Treasure State, and strengthening our workforce so we can deliver more of our world-class products to market,” he said.
The legislation received support from shipping and trucking organizations, including FedEx, American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Women In Trucking Association (WIT), United Parcel Service (UPS) and others.
“While the trucking industry has taken great strides over the last decade, growing the number of women truck drivers by 68% since 2010, the fact is that women remain underrepresented in the industry,” noted Edwin Gilroy, ATA’s senior vice president. “We agree that more work needs to be done. The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act represents a tangible step toward a stronger and more diverse trucking workforce.”
Ellen Voie, president and CEO of WIT, said she believes the proposed advisory board would help increase opportunities for women in a variety of occupations within the trucking industry, including drivers, technicians, company owners, trainers and more.
“Although women have strengthened their presence in supply chain in the past few years, we know there are still issues that cause women to reject a transportation career,” she said. “Our goal is to better identify these concerns and address them to create a more diverse industry.
Under the bill, the Women in Trucking Advisory Board would identify barriers that hinder the entry of women to the trucking industry, work across organizations and companies to coordinate formal education and training programs, and help identify and establish training and mentorship programs for women in the industry. The legislation also requires the FMCSA administrator to submit a report to Congress on the board’s findings and recommendations.
“Working with Congress to make careers in trucking appealing, sustainable and successful for anyone who wants to enter our industry is a priority for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,” said Todd Spencer, the organization’s president. “We support the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act because it will not only help more women begin careers in trucking, but will improve conditions for drivers currently behind the wheel.”
U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) introduced the bipartisan companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.