Case study on Women in Transport

Date: 10, April 2019
With the increased focus on women in the labour market for transport, DG MOVE has made a report on women working in the transport sector and how companies can attract more women to work in the industry. The report outlines the current state of the transport sector, regarding the share of women in transport and how the share of female employment can be increased in transport.

With the increased focus on women in the labour market for transport, DG MOVE has made a report on women working in the transport sector and how companies can attract more women to work in the industry. The report outlines the current state of the transport sector, regarding the share of women in transport. Additionally, the report analyses the barriers to female employment in transport and suggestions for actions to increase female employment in transport from a company perspective.

The current situation in road transport, regarding the gender mix is not bright. The share of women working in road transport is 14%, where only 2% of HDV drivers are female, making heavy duty road transport one of the most male dominated transport sectors. The report outlines several reasons for the small share of women in transport. One is that the male dominated business seems to spawn a male dominated culture, where women are not seen as “fit” to work in the industry, as working with large machinery and driving trucks is perceived by society as being a male line of employment. However, women are not only lacking at the level of drivers but also in levels of management, further limiting the opportunities for female employment.

Working conditions are also credited as having a negative effect on female representation. Working long hours spent away from home and an inflexible schedule demotivates women in seeking a career in road transport. Inadequate facilities at rest stops and the general labour conditions on the job further hinders female employment. Moreover, sexual harassment is a problem and a factor, which is spawned and leads to women feeling unsafe and vulnerable at work.

From an employer’s perspective, these very same factors also constitute hurdles for them to hire more women. External and additional costs and investments from hiring women for an industry designed for men is apparently one of the main hindrances for employers.

Although one of the main means of increasing the share of women in transport, is through legislation, the report from the Commission focuses on possible company actions to facilitate the grow in female employment. The report divides their suggestions in to four categories: recruitment, gender awareness, work-life balance and health and safety.

  • Recruitment: according to the report companies should try to establish a new public consensus on the gender perceptions in transport, when hiring new personnel. This should lead to a disappearance of the stereotypes associated with road transport. Establishing a targeted recruiting campaign, focusing on creating female role-models and countering gender bias is proposed. The establishment of a voluntary quota system for the number of women in the company is also proposed, along with initiatives as doing school-visits and internships targeted for women.
  • Gender awareness: conducting internal training on gender awareness is highlighted as a means to fight gender stereotypes. Establishing a female friendly environment by creating women’s networks both internally and within the industry are among key proposals to increase women in the workforce and furthermore ensuring equal salary for men and women.
  • Work-life balance: highlighted as a main obstacle for the hiring of women, altering the work-life balance is proposed to increase female employment. There should be more focus on the possibility of a more flexible schedule along with the offering of child-care and maternity leave.
  • Health and safety: as many women feel vulnerable in the road transport sector, companies should actively create and improve the working conditions with safety in mind. Additionally, a zero-tolerance on sexual harassment is key to attracting more women in the transport sector.

The report states the external costs of implementing these measures will be minimal and that they also lead to benefits for the companies. The benefits could be a faster vacancy coverage as there are more candidates along with a strengthening of the public image of the sector due to its focus on hiring more women. A more mixed gender profile also leads to higher job-satisfaction and could lead to more creativity and efficient driving.

NLA welcomes every initiative to increase the share of women in road transport, especially with a view to solve the current driver shortage, hoping this report might form a framework for companies in hiring more women. However, the proposals from the report can prove difficult to implement and might not even result in an increase in female employment in the industry.

The report can be found here.

Kasper Trier Jørgensen, April 2019.