“Finding Value in Joining an Association”
by Ellen Voie
Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Apparently the performer did not understand the value of being a part of an organization where the members all have something in common. He didn’t understand the value in joining an association.
If you have ever joined a club, a group or even a church, you realize the importance of interacting with others who share either a common goal, a shared belief, or perhaps the same occupation or hobby. This is the reason that so many people belong to an association.
Women In Trucking Association was formed in 2007 to support and encourage women in the trucking industry. You might ask yourself why women would need an organization that focuses on their common challenges and needs within the industry.
If you look around at any trucking related function, you will find a predominance of men. The usual mix is about one to twenty, or typically five percent are women. The few women (who are not wives of the executives) seek each other out in the crowd to meet one another, share stories and find networking opportunities.
Women in Trucking was NOT formed to preclude men or to demean any of their accomplishments. In fact, currently sixteen percent of our members are men who support our mission. The association is not just FOR women, it’s ABOUT women!
Although women face many of the same issues that our male counterparts in the trucking industry face, there are a few that are more important to females because of our physical makeup. No, I am not talking about lipstick and mascara.
If you look back in history at the wildcat truckers of the 1940s, you will find that the job was not only dangerous, but it was physically demanding for the drivers. There was no power steering, power brakes or assistance in loading or unloading the trucks. The roads were not as safe, and there were little or no regulations in place that protected drivers from abuse by their employers.
Fast-forward to today and you will find some of the most aerodynamic, comfortable tractors available. You will also see that the regulations imposed on the industry are there to keep the driver from being overworked and fatigued so that they cannot be forced to drive beyond their physical limitations. The trucking industry has also responded to the need to consider the driver’s needs outside the truck, such as home time, vacations, health care and retirement opportunities.
All these changes have made it easier for women to work alongside their male counterparts in order to make a decent living for themselves and their families. So, why would Women In Trucking be needed today?
Although we have come a long way (Baby!) we still have a way to go to level the playing field for women. There are some stereotypes and some challenges that are more prevalent for women. The need for safety is one of our top concerns. Women take fewer risks than men because we are more focused on both our own safety and that of others. This makes truck stops, shipping docks and rest areas more menacing for women who might not have the physical stature to ward off an intruder. One of the top goals for Women In Trucking is to educate our members on how to remain safe and what to do in the event of an attack.
Other areas that cause women to find common ground are the absence of amenities for women on the road. From the lack of bathrooms (for women) at loading docks to the deficiency in products available in truck stops that focus on women’s needs, the playing field is not quite level. These are just a few of the things that the association is working on to support and encourage our members.
Perhaps Groucho Marx would have joined Women In Trucking, if he had had the opportunity. We would have welcomed him as a member. Associations are designed to represent their members and to create positive changes that will allow them to be more successful as individuals.
You can become a member of Women In Trucking and help us level the playing field.
You do have the opportunity to help us support and encourage women who are considering a career in the trucking industry.
Women In Trucking (WIT) addresses obstacles to encourage women to enter careers in the trucking industry. To learn more about their mission, please visit womenintrucking.org.
To read about our tips for female truck drivers, click here.