Women with Drive: Maintaining our Momentum

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Women with Drive: Maintaining our Momentum



Canada’s economy is on the move, and it’s moving on the nation’s trucks.

With a workforce of 740,000, an annual GDP contribution of $48 billion, and a role to play in nearly every industry in the country, trucking is key to Canada’s social and economic vitality.

During the pandemic, trucks kept essential goods like food and medicine on our shelves and in our hospitals; trucks will also be a big part of the solution to today’s challenges including accelerating housing construction to support our growing population and ease the affordability crisis.

Despite our industry’s importance to the Canadian economy, we are struggling to keep up with demand for our most valuable resource: our people.

Trucking HR Canada’s latest labour market information reveals ongoing human resource challenges in the industry:

• 57% of surveyed companies couldn’t recruit all the drivers they needed in 2023, and many reported challenges training employees for non-driving roles as well;

• The number of truck drivers who are 65 and older rose 8.6% per year between 2016 and 2021 — more than double the increase seen across Canada’s overall labour pool;

• As many as 40,400 trucking and logistics jobs are expected to be vacant in 2030.

With these challenges ahead, it’s never been more important to engage the untapped talent pools that will keep our industry rolling into the future. This includes women, who make up half the population but less than 16% of the trucking workforce and only 4% of drivers.

For over a decade, THRC has been on the forefront of efforts to engage women in the industry, as exemplified by our

Women with Drive event series. This longstanding initiative includes a national Leadership Summit that brings women together for professional development, camaraderie, and celebration; a newer regional series also offers educational and networking opportunities in industry hubs across the country. Together, these efforts are having an impact. The trucking industry employed 26,235 more women in 2021 than in 2016, and the number of female truck drivers increased by 43% from 9,955 drivers to 14,270, over the same period. In addition:

• The average annual increase in the number of women employed as managers and supervisors was 10.0% (compared to 6.7% for men);

• Employment as shippers/receivers increased by 2.6% per year for women (compared to 0.6% for men);

• The average growth rate among delivery and courier service drivers was 10.5% per year (compared to a decrease by 0.5% per year for men).


Source: Trucking HR Canada, Statistics Canada, Census 2016 and 2021, custom data request

But there is more work to do. To ensure a sustainable trucking industry into the future, we need to create workplaces women want to be part of. Trucking HR Canada is committed to supporting employers in this effort.

In 2023, we teamed up with Abacus Data to embark on a large-scale research initiative to better understand what women in the sector are experiencing, what career-seeking

women want, and what employers are thinking.

Our goal was to identify the main barriers to participation so that we could help employers bridge gaps to recruit, retain, and promote more women.

With women representing 47% of Canada’s available labour pool, it is a business imperative that we do so.

What We Did


To fully understand the barriers impacting women’s participation in the trucking industry, we needed to speak to more than one audience. Women in the industry have invaluable insight into the opportunities and challenges shaping their careers, but solutions to the industry’s human resource challenges will depend, at least in part, on its ability to attract candidates with no prior connection to the industry. That’s why it was crucial to hear from a broad range of career-seeking women, not just those who have experience in the industry. We also wanted to hear from employers about what they’re doing to recruit women and create welcoming, inclusive work environments.

-2% 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% Canada Shippers & Receivers Managers & Supervisors
Truck Drivers Trucking & Logistics AVERAGE % CHANGE PER YEAR 2.6% 0.6% 10.0% 10.5% – 0.5% – 0.1% 6.7% · Female · Male -0.1% -0.5% 0.3% 4.9% 7.5% 6.7% 10.5% 10.0% 2.6% 0.6% 2.6% 3.3%
FIGURE 1: Annual % change in employment by gender, 2016–2021

In 2023, we defined and researched three groups, then compiled our findings in a study that captures the status of women’s participation in the industry for each group:

× CAREER-SEEKING WOMEN: In February of 2023, we conducted a survey of 1500 Canadian women who were open to changing jobs or about to enter the labour market.

× WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY: In May of 2023, we hosted an online focus group of 24 women with experience working in the trucking and logistics industry.

× EMPLOYERS: Throughout the spring of 2023, we surveyed trucking and logistics employers in Canada about their efforts to recruit and retain women.

Both surveys were conducted using an online platform. Focus group participants were identified through a short qualifying survey. Those who met our participant criteria were invited to access an online community, where they interacted with other participants and completed three structured activities. The wealth of qualitative data that emerged from the focus group was then coded and analyzed by our research team. Finally, findings from both surveys and the online activities underwent a comparative analysis, yielding a comprehensive picture of women’s status in the industry. This report presents key takeaways from that research.

What We Learned


Although women are still under-represented in trucking and logistics, their numbers have been improving in recent years, and many are optimistic about the future.

“. . .It is a very secure place to work in. I do not have to worry about losing my job in a recession.”


So what inspires women to break into an industry that has been dominated by men for so long?

We found that most women get into trucking and logistics for the same reasons as anyone else: they want better pay, a change, or a new experience.

Many jobs in the trucking industry offer the very features women are seeking, though they may not realize it if they haven’t been exposed to the industry before. Our survey of career-seeking women identified competitive pay, job security,




of women say they would recommend trucking and logistics to other women

and challenging work as the most soughtafter qualities in a job—the same qualities that women in the industry said they appreciated most about their jobs in trucking.

“My day-to-day is challenging and rewarding, and I’m excited to come to work every day.”


The trucking industry is full of opportunities for detail-oriented individuals who like solving problems and aren’t afraid to work hard.

With companies ranging in size, geographic coverage, customer base, freight, and company culture, there is something for almost everyone. Once they’re in, 89% of women say they would recommend trucking and logistics to other women, and nearly all the industry women we spoke to said their job met or exceeded the expectations they had going into the industry.

It’s never boring, and I’m always being challenged (in a good way).” — BC, 45–59 YEARS OLD

Although women in trucking can be powerful advocates for the sector, they can’t change the face of the industry on their own. The women in our focus group acknowledged that there are still significant barriers to overcome. Trucking is a male-dominated industry, and many women believe this limits their ability to advance. Some report being subject to unwelcome advances, sexual harassment, and derogatory comments. Others feel they are not taken seriously in their role because of their gender.

I remember when I first started, I wasn’t used to the sexual harassment or offhanded sexist comments...”

— MB, 18-23 YEARS OLD

“[I] still feel it sometimes. There are times I try to call a manager in a facility they won’t pick up but when I ask my male colleague to call no issues for them getting hold of this person.” — ON, 37-44 YEARS OLD

“I feel that because I am a female I am treated differently from the males because they think that this job is not meant for females, but I am proving them wrong more and more because I have not given up or quit.” — BC, 37-44 YEARS OLD


Women also have concerns about work/life balance and managing family responsibilities in addition to their jobs. Those working in office roles in trucking are more likely to benefit from flexible policies and hybrid work options than those working in the shop, at the warehouse, or on the road. Given that women are disproportionately responsible for child and elder care in our society, limited flexibility around work time and location can be barriers.

This was true for some of the women in our focus group, and similar sentiments emerged in our survey of career-seeking women. When asked what types of trucking industry jobs they would be most interested in, 60% of survey respondents said administrative or clerical work and only 14% said long-haul driving

Like the industry women in our focus group, career-seeking women identified work/life balance as a top priority; in our survey, 94% of them ranked work/life balance as important or very important and 67% indicated that the potential to work from home at least some of the time was a priority. These lifestyle factors likely contribute to career-seeking women’s preference for office work over driving.


Participants in our focus group voiced a desire to stay in the workforce while managing family responsibilities, but said that necessary accommodations were not always available in the trucking industry. Companies that don’t make an effort to accommodate employees with children or other dependents risk losing team members and missing out on skilled candidates.

Staying Safe

Safety is another important concern. Women in our focus group noted that rest stops and delivery locations (alleyways, loading docks, etc.) are not designed with women in mind and often present threats to personal safety. Although participants had mostly positive experiences in the industry, they could not ignore these risk factors, and felt that employers could do more to make female employees—especially female drivers— feel secure.

As a woman myself, I would not feel safe in some alleyways and shipping docks from a personal safety perspective. This does describe my experiences, as over the years I have also done deliveries and have found myself in situations where I did not feel safe.”
— BC, 45-59 YEARS OLD

Employers, for their part, are aware of the need: 69% of respondents in our employer survey identified safety as a significant issue for women considering careers in trucking and logistics. Taking safety seriously can help companies improve retention, and it could also have a positive impact on recruitment, since women outside the industry are even more likely to perceive trucking as dangerous. 53% of the career-seeking women we surveyed felt the trucking industry was unsafe, and 59% admitted that they would worry about being harassed if they worked in trucking.

Is the Industry’s Image Keeping People Out?

Heightened safety concerns are warranted in an industry centered around heavy equipment and all-weather driving—and, given the gender imbalance in trucking, the assumptions many career-seeking women had about harassment are understandable. However, prior THRC research has shown that the rate of harassment in the trucking industry is similar to the rate in other industries, and the government of Canada’s 2021 annual report on workplace harassment and violence shows that the rate of occurrences in trucking is roughly proportionate to the size of the industry.

No incident of harassment is acceptable, and we must continue to enhance preventative measures in our workplaces, but the assumption that harassment is more pronounced in trucking than in other industries is not supported by available evidence. Even reasonable assumptions can turn out to be misleading or inaccurate, and for the trucking industry, the gap between perception and reality is creating additional barriers to women’s participation.

It is not just on the question of safety that the industry’s image suffers. Our survey of career-seeking women uncovered gaps in understanding about many aspects of the industry. Just one in four career-seeking women said they would consider a career in trucking and logistics but this reluctance is due in part to a lack of knowledge about the industry. Only a third of respondents said they were familiar with the types of jobs available in the industry, and 69% said they just couldn’t see themselves driving a truck. When asked to rank their impressions of various industries, respondents placed trucking at the bottom of the list above resource extraction but below all other industries.

“When doing advertising, show that there are women already doing the job.” — BC, 45-59 YEARS OLD
27% 60% 13% 29% 59% 12% 37% 51% 12% 43% 45% 11% 45% 42% 13% 45% 41% 14% 50% 37% 13% 48% 35% 17% 68% 22% 10% 77% 14% 9% 77% 13% 10% Administrative and clerical work Human resources Customer service representative Sales and marketing Finance and business analysis Information technology and cyber security Warehouse management Fleet management and coordination Driving a truck over shorter distances
a truck over long distances Truck maintenance
FIGURE 2: Consider working in trucking & logistics industry
· I would consider it · I would not consider it · Don’t know
Source: Trucking HR Canada, Survey of Career-seeking Women, 2023

However, after being informed about a range of career opportunities beyond driving trucks, 58% percent of respondents felt more positively inclined toward the industry. In other words, decoupling the industry from stereotyped images of male truck drivers could go a long way toward piquing women’s interest and getting more of them to pursue careers in trucking. Some might even feel better about getting behind the wheel if they saw more women driving trucks. While two thirds of respondents in our employer survey concluded that women just “aren’t interested” in the trucking industry, the women in our focus group felt otherwise, and believed women-centric advertising could help to diversify teams.

“Promote women more. They mostly show male roles and should highlight women.”

Employers are Responding but More Can be Done

Employers are aware of the issues that are driving women away from jobs in the trucking industry. A quarter of respondents to our employer survey said that the industry is not welcoming to women, and 70% said that it is difficult for women to have rewarding careers in trucking. 69% of respondents recognized safety as a significant issue for women considering careers in the industry.

· Agree · Somewhat Agree · Somewhat Disagree · Disagree · Not Sure

I would recommend other women to work in the industry [Only asked of women]

Few women want to drive trucks

The culture of the trucking and logistics industry makes it difficult for women to have rewarding careers

Safety is a significant issue for women considering careers in trucking and logistics

Women are not interested in working in the industry

Women face more harassment in the sector than they would in other industries

The equipment and vehicles used in the sector are not suited to women

Fortunately, our research shows that awareness is leading to action. 91% of surveyed employers reported making changes to their company hiring processes to encourage more women to apply. The most commonly implemented measure is to market jobs directly to women. In addition, 13% of respondents said their companies offer special incentives to attract female candidates.

Many companies are making efforts to support the women already working for them, too. 59% of employers have implemented training opportunities and workshops for employees, and 58% have some form of mentorship program in place.

23% 41% 29% 5% 2% 21% 44% 24% 9% 2% 24% 39% 22% 12% 4% 19% 40% 28% 10% 3% 17% 43% 27% 10% 3% 14% 39% 35% 9% 3% 14% 38% 33% 11% 4% 12% 36% 32% 16% 5% 9% 37% 41% 10% 2% 10% 33% 38% 15% 4% 11% 30% 37% 16% 7% High tech Education Healthcare Public administration or working for gov Hospitality, food service, and tourism Construction trades Air transport and airlines Retail Manufacturing Trucking transport and logistics Resource extraction · Very Good · Good · Neither good nor bad · Bad · Very bad
3: Impressions of Industries Among Career Seeking
% Agree 3% 3% 29% 60% 3% 4% 4% 44% 34% 14% 4% 2% 43% 26% 8% 21% 38% 31% 16% 12% 4% 48% 18% 19% 11% 8% 38% 21% 16% 18% 14% 18% 6% 90% 78% 70% 69% 66% 58% 24% 27% 35%
FIGURE 4: Attitudes About Gender and Trucking
Source: Trucking HR Canada, Survey of Career-seeking Women, 2023 Source: Trucking HR Canada, Employer Survey on Women in Trucking, 2023

Source: Trucking HR Canada, Employer Survey on Women in Trucking, 2023

Source: Trucking HR Canada, Employer Survey on Women in Trucking, 2023

These are steps in the right direction, but other barriers need to be addressed—some of which could have an even greater impact on women’s participation in the industry. According to the industry women in our focus group, the lack of flexibility in traditional trucking roles is a barrier for many women, especially those with family responsibilities. Career-seeking women agree, placing work/life balance near the top of their list of desirable job qualities. To attract more women into key roles, companies may need to explore new approaches to scheduling that make it easier for employees to balance their personal and professional lives. Women inside and outside the industry are sending clear messages to companies that are willing to listen.

Be flexible with scheduling so that in the case of women with children, they can take care of that too.” — BC, 45-59 YEARS OLD

“[Provide] much more support, especially for women with young families to raise.”
— AB, 37-44 YEARS OLD

There is also room for improvement when it comes to communication. Just under half (49%) of career-seeking women said they had noticed job advertisements or information about careers in the trucking and logistics industry. Improving this number could mean a boost in applicants. Our research shows that women aged 30-44 and women with young children are most positively inclined toward the trucking industry, and that Indeed and Google are the top search tools for female job-seekers—information employers can use when crafting their recruitment strategies.

Source: Trucking HR Canada, Survey of Career-seeking Women, 2023

Marketing to Females 69% More Incentives 13% Being More Approachable 7% Better Work-Life Balance 6% Partnered With Driving Schools 4% Sharing Employment Information 2% Unsure 5% · · · · · · · Marketing to Females 69% More Incentives 13% Being More Approachable 7% Better Work-Life Balance 6% Partnered With Driving Schools 4% Sharing Employment Information 2% Unsure 5% · · · · · · ·
FIGURE 5: What Have You Done? FIGURE 6: Actions Taken to Support Women
0 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Workshops/training opportunities designed to help employees be successful Mentorship opportunities Social opportunities Modifications to facilities Modifications to equipment Anything else your company does None of these 0 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Indeed Google searches Friends and family Employer’s Website LinkedIn Social media Job boards Job fairs Glassdoor Association Website Monster University Websites Forums Other
FIGURE 7: Seeking information about jobs or careers on…

Moving Forward and Maintaining Momentum

As we continue to move the needle on women’s participation in the industry, employers can take advantage of many opportunities. Indeed, the question is not why women would choose a career in trucking and logistics—it’s what are employers willing to do to address the cultural and systemic barriers that are shaping women’s career choices?

The goal of this report is to identify the primary barriers impacting women’s engagement with our industry and shed light on areas of alignment and misalignment among employers, industry women, and female jobseekers.

Our research shows that safety, lifestyle, and persistent sexism—euphemistically referred to as a “boys’ club” culture by some industry insiders—are the main issues employers need to address if they want to recruit and retain more women. To demonstrate real commitment to enhancing women’s status in the industry, employers must:

• Address challenges faced by women in the industry ranging from unwelcome comments to unequal treatment;

• Implement workplace policies and practices that support gender equity;

• Prioritize safety;

• Improve work/life balance for employees; and

• Ensure equal access to training, development, and promotion opportunities.

Many employers are already taking steps to meet these needs, and the results are starting to show: the number of women is gradually increasing across multiple occupations in the sector. Yet with women representing only 16% of the industry’s total workforce, there is plenty of room to grow.


Trucking HR Canada is Here to Help

Trucking HR Canada’s online HR Library offers a range of tools and resources to help employers enhance their recruitment and retention efforts, as well as support regulatory compliance. Several resources are specifically focused on women, like our Toolbox for Mentoring Women. This year, we are growing the HR Library with a gender gap analysis tool, Checking Your Blind Spots, and a new Best Practices Guide, Women at Work: How Can Employers

Attract More Women into Trucking and Logistics?

Informed by the research described in this report as well as our industry-leading labour market information, these new additions to the HR Library will help you identify and address gender equity issues in your workplace. After assessing your current policies and practices with the gap analysis tool, consult the Best

Practices Guide for concrete recommendations that will enhance your workplace equity strategy. And if you have questions, feel free to contact us so that we can help you get the most out of these resources. Together, we can make the trucking industry an even better place to work—for men and women.


104-720 Belfast Rd., Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Z5 (613) 244-4800



Trucking HR Canada acknowledges the support of Women and Gender Equality Canada.


Funding for this project is made possible thanks to the federal Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) program.

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