At a recent industry ‘do’, the topic of conversation turned to possible reasons behind persistently low numbers of female heavy vehicle drivers.
One fellow cited a lack of clean amenities while another felt personal safety concerns out on the road was another major impediment. Both agreed that until these issues are addressed, female uptake will remain low.
My question to both was: Has anyone actually done a fact-check with the women out there doing the job? Were either of those issues major considerations in their decision making? I think not.
These baseless throw-aways essentially infer female heavy vehicle driver workforce participation will remain low until women are provided with daily sanitised five-star amenities and stun guns!
Using the same logic, could we assume then that 98 per cent of the truck driver workforce is male because men don’t care about filthy amenities and personal safety?
Clearly, the theory’s flawed because all truck drivers – regardless of gender – DO care about clean, well-maintained amenities, and their personal safety.
Neither issue has any relevance to the massive gender disparity we currently see in the Australian heavy vehicle driver workforce, and comments alluding to this quite frankly annoy the crap (pardon the pun) out of women. They are essentially perpetuating the stereotype that women are high-maintenance and therefore problematic to employ.
I’ve yet to hear a female diss trucking as a career because of the poor state of amenities or personal safety concerns.
Given the appalling lack of roadside toilets – and in an effort to dispel the ‘amenities myth’ – WiTA recently ran a Facebook post asking the girls to share details of the creative workarounds they come up with out on the road when Mother Nature calls.
It should be noted at this point that while the ‘boys’ are anatomically advantaged when it comes to a quick no-fuss wee, for us gals, things aren’t quite as easy. A thorough reconnaissance of the immediate surrounds for painful ground-level flora or fauna, before exacting a bare-bottom squat (particularly in the dark) is critical.
For those reluctant to venture out into the night, kitty litter in a bucket with a lid works a treat! Other roadside toileting hacks put forward include opening an umbrella and squatting behind it for extra privacy. Some park their trailers in an ‘S’ shape for greater privacy while others limit their fluid intake. Some manage their she-wees like a boss – while others report getting their heads round ‘going’ standing up is nigh impossible.
One female Argosy driver over-shared, telling us she opens the steps out and goes in underneath her prime mover using the chassis as a bench for her wipes and phone for light. She can park anywhere and no one can see her. As an added bonus, warm air from the engine keeps her butt warm on cold days!
Every female remote area driver will tell you she won’t see another soul for hours but as soon as she pulls over to answer the call of nature, the truck stop will invariably morph into something resembling a supermarket carpark!
In built-up areas – if female toilets are available and aren’t being used as storage cupboard for mops, buckets and cleaning chemicals, invariably the boys will use them because they’re cleaner. Clients provide toilets in operational areas for the boys but female toilets are usually in the office and only available between 9am to 5pm. Sanitary wipes and nose pegs are strongly recommended for any driver brave enough to use the toilets provided in warehouse areas.
These are the facts and they speak for themselves. Female truckies are a resilient, resourceful bunch who take the daily challenges of the job in their stride. Women don’t shy away from trucking careers because of sub-standard amenities and personal safety issues.
One final fact to mull over – the appalling lack of clean shower and toilets available to the nation’s truckies in 21st century Australia is a national disgrace, and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed for EVERY driver.
Lyndal Denny is CEO, Women in Trucking Australia