trucks.comWhile it’s taken time, lawsuits and the rise of female driver support groups to inspire trucking companies to hire more women, there’s an earnest effort now to make training programs more appealing to women, an article by states.

Overall, it’s all in hopes it will help carriers expand their driver applicant pool and attract more female truck drivers.

Carriers increased assistance for female trainees by offering more practice time in truck driving simulators, creating internal support groups and adding female driver liaisons.

In addition, they added sexual harassment awareness and self-defense classes to training curriculums. Then, women feel safer on training runs and respond better in abusive situations.

To recruit more women, some carriers now allow current male drivers to train their spouses to drive. Also, other carriers expanded military veteran recruiting to promote trucking jobs among women retiring from active duty.

They also fund scholarships for female high school grads interested in CDL trucking jobs.

Despite the ongoing deficit, women account for only 5.1% of U.S. truck drivers. In addition, 11.4% of all trucking transportation industry workers are women, according to the ATA.

The numbers continue to decline. From 2014 to 2015, the population of female drivers in the industry shrank by 10%, to 177,000, according to the trucking trade group.

Past efforts to get more women behind the wheel failed, and in some cases, lacked legality, writes.

In May, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordered New Prime Trucking Inc. to pay $3.1 million for discriminating against women by adopting a same-sex driver training policy. In a 2011 lawsuit, the EEOC said the policy forced women to wait up to 18 months for training.

Over-the-road driving positions remain the hardest to fill in the trucking industry.

“The hours are long, quarters are cramped and trainees make only a percentage of a regular driver’s per-mile wage,” it states. “Some bail after a short time.”

“They come into the industry saying, ‘I heard it on the radio, they’re making lady truck drivers, the industry wants more women.’” said  Desiree Wood, a veteran driver and host of the Real Women in Trucking website and podcast. “Nobody tells them you will have to work hard, and you will have to lift.”

“The bottom line is it’s a male-dominated field. For you to succeed, you have to be twice as good as the worst man out there,” adds Real Women in Trucking board member Tracy Livingston.

As part of its recent efforts to create a better workplace for women, Prime created a support group and recognition program. This serves women drivers, featuring training specialist and female driver liaison, Brooke Mosley.

Mosley credits the carrier’s training program for growing Prime’s female driver cohort to 766. That’s more than twice the industry average.

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