Putting the words ‘women’ and ‘trucking’ together is becoming more common in today’s world.
Even though women represent only 3% of drivers in the trucking industry in Canada, those numbers are increasing as programs to assist women to enter such male-dominated industries are popping up across Canada.
One program is YWCA Changing Gears, a free 23-week Class 1 truck driving training program for women. The program offers training to eligible women to gain the skills necessary to obtain their Class 1 driving certificates with Air Brakes Certification.
Not only does the Changing Gears Program assist women in acquiring their Class 1 licenses, it also provides them with the essential skills needed to be successful drivers, with a focus on health and wellness, safety and overall well-being in the industry.
Although there is a projected shortage of drivers over the next 10 years due to the aging population of male drivers, it has not been easy for women to break into this field. Traditionally a male-dominated occupation, the industry is rooted in gender-based stereotypes, not only with employers but even with the women themselves. There is a general misconception that to be a truck driver, you need to be big, strong and mechanically adept.
But women are demonstrating that they can do the job and therefore, deserve the job. And with the help of programs like Changing Gears, the public image of female truck drivers is beginning to change: more women are in the driver’s seats of trucks.
More employers are seeking women drivers for the additional benefits that they are able to provide to their companies, such as a focus on safety, excellent document-use skills and overall reliability. In fact, women drivers have been proven to take fewer risks and have an overall lower accident rate.
In an effort to attract more women drivers, a growing number of employers are working towards creating environments where women are welcome and feel safe. The Changing Gears program is crucial in facilitating this change.
The YWCA has received funding from the Government of Canada to run this successful program for the third time.
For more information on Changing Gears click here.