CBIA to Women: Drive a Truck

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Education and Workforce Partnership is turning its attention to the state’s increasing demand for drivers of trucks, buses, and heavy equipment – a demand which is expected to grow to 30,000 by 2024. And the focus of their attention is women, urging them to consider careers in transportation. In an effort to showcase well-paying jobs in the industry, the partnership teamed up with Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford to create a video that highlights this growing industry.

Ellen Underwood, who now drives for the state Department of Transportation’s bridge crew, explains in the video that driving was a “natural pathway” because she enjoyed being outdoors, and driving.  She’s been at it for 20 years, with a number of different employers, including a local municipality.  She says state polices “make it easier for a woman to be treated as an equal,” adding that “if you’re willing to work hard and learn new things, you can do anything.”

A contract driver for CNS Transportation, Karen Roderick, says her career began “as a challenge to see if I could do it.”  She recalls being “the only female” in truck-driving school.  She has since earned Connecticut Driver of the Year, the only woman to do so.

CBIA notes some key facts about women in transportation:

  • Women in historically male-dominated jobs earn an average of 25 percent more than women in historically female-dominated jobs.
  • Women consistently do better with their paperwork, take better care of their trucks, and are often better with their customers.
  • Women, especially when compared with young men, are generally safer drivers.
  • There’s a huge shortage of heavy and tractor trailer drivers yet only 6 percent of truck drivers are female.

Daiana Soto, featured in the video, drives a big rig, and launched her career just four months ago.  “My truck is my office,” she explains. The limited number of women in the field is quite evident, and Soto says it is a challenge she’s ready to take on. “You can do the same job (as men)… and maybe better.”

Ezzie Williams, a professional motorcoach driver for Town & Country in New Britain, began as a school bus driver. She says young people should consider the field, so that they can “get a career and make money.”

Two versions of the video are available—one a full-length video with interviews with six women in six different transportation careers and the other is a one-minute highlight reel.  The project was supported by the Walmart Foundation. The Transportation partnership (Transportation, Logistics, and Distribution Partnership – TDL), convened by the CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership, aims to strengthens the transportation workforce pipeline, support on-the-job training, and improve retention rates among new hires.