What’s Next for Women in Transportation?

Posted on November 27, 2018 by Bridget O'Shaughnessy

With research showing the need for as many as 48,000 drivers by 2024, the driver shortage is currently the top of mind for everyone in Canada’s trucking and logistics industry. But our industry and our country are not the only ones feeling this pressure.

On October 14, 2018, Trucking HR Canada was invited to speak at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women in Transportation Roundtable in Lima, Peru. The goal of the roundtable was to build on the 2015 APEC Women in Transportation Data Framework and Best Practices report (linked here), review the efforts of three pilot projects conducted over the past three years in Viet Nam, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea, and discuss opportunities and efforts to advance women’s employment in the sector.

Since 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development have worked together to implement the APEC Women in Transportation (WIT) Initiative, seeing value in this solution to labour shortages.

For me, the roundtable provided an opportunity to learn just how other economies and sectors have been dealing with labour shortages through one similar method: the inclusion of women.

The first session of the day provided a background on the three pilot programs that have been conducted throughout the lifetime of the three-year initiative. The first pilot program, taking place in Papua New Guinea, focused on the education pillar (one of the five pillars of the WiT data framework) looking at educating girls and women to prepare them for transportation careers. The second pilot program dealt with barriers to entry in the sector in Viet Nam, and the third on fostering leadership opportunities for women in the sector in Malaysia.

These three very different approaches in three different economies provided important insight into answering the question: What’s Next for Women in Transportation?

One thing I learned through this roundtable was that different economies will have to answer this question in different ways based on their largest barriers to inclusion. For some, societal norms put a lot of pressure on women to stay home and care for their children, for others there are almost no female role models in the sector to look up to, and for some, including Canada, it comes down to women’s perception of the transportation sector.

As much progress as we have made, it is essential to the future success of our industry that we do more.

One of the biggest lessons I learned through this experience is that events like APEC are important to this progress. They put the issue front and center; promote the sharing of ideas, experiences, and leadership practices; and give us better tools and richer perspectives. These events also show that conversation can and does inspire action, including the development of expanded support networks that are critical to sustained success.

We have lots to learn from the experience of our international friends, but we can also learn by sharing our own experiences within the Canadian trucking and logistics sector.

The Women with Drive Leadership Summit provides an opportunity to do just that. The event looks to share best practices, educate attendees, foster mentorship, promote networking, and more, all to further the inclusion of women in the industry overall.

To learn more about various efforts supporting the inclusion of women in the trucking and logistics industry, join us for the Women with Drive Leadership Summit on March 7, 2019, in Toronto as we continue the conversation on what’s next for women in transportation.

See you there!