A group of lawmakers has reintroduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, which aims to support women entering the industry.
The bill was reintroduced by four members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
The bill will require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s administrator to create a Women of Trucking Advisory Board. It will look for patterns that deter women from pursuing careers in the industry and encourage organizations that offer training and mentoring. The board will be composed of at least seven people.
The bill also requires the FMCSA administrator to send a report to Congress outlining the board’s recommendations and his or her efforts to implement those recommendations.
Women make up 10% of the truck-driving workforce, according to the Women In Trucking Association.
“We produce stuff in Wisconsin, and we need to make sure we have a strong workforce to get our products to market,” Baldwin said. “It is important to remove the obstacles that prevent women from pursuing and maintaining careers in trucking.”
The bill was first presented in November 2019. The bill was referred to the Commerce Committee, but no hearing was held, according to a spokesperson for Baldwin’s office. Moran worked with the Commerce Committee to include this bill in surface transportation reauthorization legislation, which did not move forward last year, according to a spokesperson for Moran’s office.
In the House of Representatives, the bill’s companion legislation is backed by Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.). Gallagher went on a ride-along with a member of the Women In Trucking Association in 2018. The association is based in Plover, Wis., the home state of Gallagher and Baldwin.
The legislation, according to Moran, could help relieve the industry-wide truck driver shortage, which has ranked first on the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Industry Issues list for the past four years. At the end of 2018, the American Trucking Associations estimated a driver shortage of 60,800.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we relied on the vital service provided by the trucking industry to transport critical resources to Kansas and across the country,” Moran said. “As the trucking industry faces a driver shortage, we must find new ways to hire and attract drivers, including supporting women who want to work in the industry.
“This reasonable and bipartisan legislation will create new employment opportunities for women in the trucking industry while also promoting equity for those already working in the industry.”
Ed Gilroy, ATA’s senior vice president of legislative affairs, showed strong support for the bill in a letter to the senators who reintroduced it. Since 2010, the number of female truck drivers has risen by 68 percent, according to Gilroy, but women continue to be underrepresented in the industry.
“Empowering women to thrive in an industry that offers substantial pay and benefits packages achieves the twin goals of improving gender diversity and addressing the growing truck driver shortage,” Gilroy wrote. “We eagerly anticipate working with you to pass this thoughtful and timely legislation.”