While the supply industry has historically been considered a predominantly male field, women building successful careers across the industry are beginning to change this outdated narrative. Industry publication SDC Executive recently spoke to several female leaders in transportation to gauge their impressions about being a woman in the industry, as well as how to encourage a new generation of young women to consider a career path that may not have felt possible for them.
This is a timely and necessary conversation, as gender demographics in transportation are already beginning to shift. According to a 2018 Gartner survey, women in supply chain roles increased from 35% in 2016 to 41% in 2021. As of 2022, women occupied 36.7% of leadership positions in the transportation field and approximately 13% of the driving workforce. And if initiatives by organizations like the Women in Trucking Organization to attract and retain women to the industry are any indication, this growth is only expected to accelerate.
How to inspire the next generation of women in transportation
The transportation professionals interviewed by SDC Executive identified two areas where the efforts of such initiatives might be focused for the greatest impact. The first and one of the most important is education. Increased openness and dialogue about the experiences, realities, and potential of women in transportation and logistics will not only teach those within the industry about the value of expanding gender diversity but also provide a new perspective for young women outside the industry. Head of treasury at Super Transport International, Erika Iznaola was quoted on the topic, saying “If I could tell young girls who may be intimidated by this industry anything it would be that you are enough, and your voice is valued.” Presenting transportation as a viable career option available to young women consistently and early will be key in drawing more women to the field.
The second requirement for sustainable gender equity in the trucking industry, according to women in the field, is the creation of spaces for female supply chain professionals to connect with one another and exchange stories and advice with the goal of improving the overall experience of women within the industry. Conferences and forums for female industry professionals provide an ideal context for this sort of conversation, collaboration, and mentorship. Just last week, the American Supply Association hosted its annual “Elevate2023” Women in Industry conference in Charleston, SC. This event had record attendance with 45% pore attendees from the previous year.
Implications for the larger supply industry
Beyond just transportation and trucking, women leaders in the supply and distribution industry at large are a growing and powerful demographic that already brings incredible value to the field. Developing that value by inspiring a new generation of women while supporting the success of the current generation is a more than worthwhile endeavor and a dedicated priority of the American Supply Association.