By Reagan Payne
Senator Tammy Baldwin shattered Wisconsin’s glass ceiling when the 2nd Congressional District elected her the state’s first female member of Congress. Bigger than Wisconsin: she was the nation’s first openly gay challenger sent to Congress.
Baldwin has never been afraid to be the odd man out and fight for what she believes in. Now a U.S. Senator (D-Wis.), she was bold enough to reintroduce the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act. This piece of legislation is now a bill.
“In Wisconsin, we make things, and we need to ensure we have a strong workforce to transport our goods to market,” Sen. Baldwin said. “Women currently make up less than 10 percent of the truck driving workforce, and removing the barriers that get in the way of women pursuing and retaining careers in trucking is key.
“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Senator (Jerry) Moran (R-Kan.) because more job opportunities for Wisconsin women will lead to more economic security for working families.”
This legislation, introduced in November 2019, will work closely with the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) to develop a committee dedicated to addressing women’s barriers of entry and increasing ranks in this industry. The President and CEO of WIT, Ellen Voie, will be a member of this board.
More specifically, this board will identify industry trends that discourage women from pursuing careers in trucking.
“I would like to see training environments that are more conducive to a productive learning experience that are harassment free and that are humane,” said Kellylynn McLaughlin, a Driver Ambassador for WIT. “The length of time that you’re in training and whether or not you have to share a bunk with your trainer or another student varies. I’d like to see some consistent set standards that are safe and conducive to learning environment.”
The board will also find ways the trucking companies themselves, nonprofits, and trucking associations can facilitate support for women pursuing these careers. Finally, the board will not only find ways to enhance training, mentorship, education, and outreach programs for women but expand existing opportunities for women.
“Talk to the women who already work for you and ask what they like about the company what they think should be changed, because they’re going to be very vocal. I’m always amazed when companies don’t ask their own,” said Voie. “Something that I’ve been working on for probably three or four years is the option to have a same gender training policy.”
Congress determined that while 47% of the national workforce is women, only 6.6% are truck drivers. With the driver shortage as severe as it is, this industry cannot afford to continue overlooking women.
“Given the total number of women truck drivers, women are underrepresented in the truck driving workforce, and women truck drivers have been shown to be 20% less likely than male counterparts to be involved in a crash,” the bill reads.
Reagan Payne is a writer for Wright Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.