There are 300,000 truckers in the UK, of that group only 1,600 of them (0.5%) are women. Today Think are discussing the Queens of the Road, the affectionate name given to female HGV drivers.
Many industries that were once male dominated are slowly evening out, in the medical industry for example the ratio of male to female doctors is now 57 to 43 and for the past 4 decades 60% of students selected for medical studies have been female. Until the 1960s, only 10% of British doctors were female, now it is expected that by 2017 we will see more female doctors than male.
The trucking business doesn’t seem to be taking that step, but there are a small group of women working to change that. Late last year Horsepower, a new HGV training school, was set up by 2 female truck drivers hoping to attract more women into this 99.5% male sector.
It’s a great plan for the industry as a whole, because there is currently a shortage of drivers, meaning there is no better time for women to enter. Co-founders Nathalie Axon and Jan Carter believe its vital that the sector focus on this barely represented group of potential recruits.
Nathalie Axon has been working on the idea for 2 years, she told Commercial Motor, “Horsepower aims to provide a welcome pathway to bring people from outside the industry who had never considered driving as a profession and offer them a hand into becoming a driver.”
Horsepower are offering taster days that they hope will show female drivers what life on the open road is like, and spark a passion similar to Horsepower’s own.
Not all female truck drivers believe that the ratio will change, Katie Gillard, who began trucking when she was 19 after she decided working with children wasn’t for her, spoke to the Guardian for a piece about ‘Women Doing Men’s Work,’.
Here she said “From what I see, women are always going to be a minority in this industry. It’s always going to be seen as a man’s world.”
But this doesn’t damper her spirits about the sector. trucking is in her veins, and it was her dad who suggested she get her license.
“The first time I sat behind the wheel was terrifying, but I picked it up pretty quickly. I work with my father, Andrew, who owns a quarry. I’m used to people doing a double-take when I’m driving. I get it every day, particularly when I’m sitting in traffic. It doesn’t bother me too much. I really enjoy driving.”
Whilst researching for this article, Think’s Anthony Nicholas introduced us to his wife to be, Faye Davis a proud Class 2 Driver who delivers steel and metal work. She took some time to answer some of our questions regarding the Queens of the road.
“I’ve always had an interest in lorries, being on the road and I love driving.
“I finally made my mind up about going for my licence when the place I worked for was taken over by a rival company, I started to hate my job. I was told that there was a shortage of drivers at the time, I thought it’s now or never so I saved up and went for my licence.
“I used a company called Easy as HGV, I paid a little extra than I would have if I had of booked things myself separately, but I was safe in the knowledge that they would sort everything out that I needed.”
Faye found that the sector was very supportive of her joining the ranks and her instructor was great, even if some male drivers were less than welcoming.
“When I was learning, my instructor was all for women truck drivers. He encouraged me so much and told me that I could do anything that he could do and not to let the industry bully me.
“As I learned and went through the different stages to get my licence, I came across surprised faces when I said I was going for my class2. I had one man laugh at me when we were learning our CPC, I took no notice and he then got his questions wrong when we were quizzed about what we had learned and I got mine correct – which was satisfying!”
Though happy in her job, Faye believes that the sector needs to do more to attract female truckers.
“I do not feel that the sector is actively encouraging women at all. There is still far too many men out there who believe that a woman is not cut out to be a lorry driver.
“Overall, I would encourage women to go for it. Yes it’s a male dominated job, but being a woman does not affect anything that I do. I can still do everything that any of the guys do where I work. All you have to do is believe in yourself and make that jump.”
Let’s hope that the hard work of Horsepower and their fellow women truckers pays off and that more women do start to enter the sector, see if they can help you to get your HGV license.
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