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More women are becoming truck drivers amid industry labor shortage

A long-haul truck in Louisiana.
A long-haul truck in Louisiana. Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

The American Trucking Association said the trucking industry saw a 68% increase in the number of female drivers from 2010 to 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the economy will need more truckers as the demand for goods increases. With the labor market continuing to tighten, employers are hiring from demographic groups that have not traditionally been associated with trucking.

The state of play: There were a total of 234,234 female drivers in 2018, but women still only accounted for just 6.6% of the 3.5 million truck drivers on the road, according to the ATA.

  • The U.S. is experiencing a severe shortage in truck drivers that is predicted to grow to as many as 175,000 by 2026. The median annual wage for a truck driver was $43,680 in May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Meanwhile, technologies like modern transmission systems and automatic loading and unloading equipment are making the job more accessible to more people.
  • To become a trucker, applicants typically need a high school diploma and must attend a professional truck driving school.

Yes, but: Some industry officials say women still face obstacles in the male-dominated industry. Most of the trainers in professional truck driving schools are male, though some companies try to pair female trainees with female trainers.

  • "Then there are on-the-job concerns. A 2017 survey by Women in Trucking asked female drivers how safe they felt at work. the average response was 4.4 out of 10. One of their main concerns is finding a safe, well-lit place to park overnight when there aren’t enough spots," per WSJ.

The big picture: Women are joining the trucking industry as it enters a transformative period. With numerous companies developing and testing autonomous and remotely operated heavy-duty commercial trucks, some experts believe that these technologies could revolutionize the profession.

Go deeper: Truck driving could soon be a desk job

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that the 68% increase in the number of female drivers was from 2010 to 2018 (not from 2000).