Women Continue to be Underrepresented in Trucking


Note from Women Driving Change: Thank you to the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC) for allowing us to share this article. For more valuable information on this topic, and to learn about WTFC, visit https://www.womenstruckingfederationofcanada.net.

Labour force data released from the latest Canadian Census is disheartening to say the least.

In 2016 barely 3.5% of Canada’s 300,000 truck drivers were women, and now, over six years and enormous efforts later, gains of less than one percent brings that representation to a mere 4.3%.

Before we go any further, a bit about the data. These statistics look across occupations, which the government breaks into classifications using National Occupational Classification (NOC, or NOC codes). This is Canada’s national system of organizing and describing occupations.

It is also important to note that there is a variable when comparing 2016 data to 2022. Statistics Canada is no longer using the same criteria when it comes to male and female representation in the labour force. In the latest statistics “gender” refers to an individual’s personal and social identity as a man, a woman, or a non-binary person. They go on to note that “Given that the non-binary population is small, data aggregation to a two-category gender variable is sometimes necessary to protect the confidentiality of responses provided. In these cases, individuals in the category “non-binary persons” were distributed into the other two gender categories and denoted by the “+” symbol.” The 2022 data is representative of those changes and is referenced as Men+ and Women+. As such, the 2022 data showing 4.3% representation is for Women +, and these numbers are significantly deficient considering that women account for almost half of Canada’s workforce.

Despite the growing list of federal, provincial and industry programs that have tried to move the needle, these gains are minimal at best. Efforts ranging from training scholarships for female candidates, mentorship options, incentive programs, free driving schools with guaranteed placement, to programs targeting school age females, has not moved the needle 1%.

Trucking is not alone as skilled trades also continue to be largely dominated by males. While women have made some progress in the trades, the sectors share significant barriers with inclusion that prevent women from embracing work in male dominated industries.

In terms of inclusion, the trucking industry is doing well at the more senior levels with Human Resources, Health & Safety, Administration, Finance, and Senior Management. In fact, the latest Census shows that 24.5% of Managers in Transportation (NOC 70020) are Women+. However, gender equity is needed throughout the corporate hierarchy. Representation at all levels is not only critical, but also a great place to start. Inclusion matters. And when representation is a mere 4.3%, that is a problem from an inclusion perspective. We need to create workplaces where women and other diverse candidates can say “I can belong here.” We know part of inclusion is about sharing things that we have in common with others. Most people do not want to be the odd person out or feel isolated in their job or at the workplace.

Consider a time you felt different from those around you. Now, consider the words or images that come to mind as you reflect on that time. Likely, those words or images have a negative connotation, like isolated or awkward to discriminated or harassed.
We, as humans, have a need to be included, a feeling of security, safety, acceptance, and of a workplace that at the very least reflects and includes us. Having female workers and leaders to serve as role models is not only critical to the advancement of women in this industry, but also leads to larger societal impacts on issues like pay equity, gender equality in recruitment and promotion, changing workplace policies in ways that benefit all genders, and in attracting a more diverse workforce.

So, lots to do, how do we get there?

Start with the understanding that nothing can stifle DEI efforts any faster than a work culture that discourages looking for new ways to improve. Leaders need to challenge the caustic “We’ve always done it that way” mindset and create company cultures where women can thrive, have new ideas rewarded and feel included.

Increasing the inclusion and representation of women in this industry should not be a one and done initiative. It is about a culture change. Employers must start by looking inward and examining what they are doing to be an inclusive workplace. And if the old methods aren’t working, take some risks and try something new.

Check in with the women on your team, a recent article by Catalyst found that aside from isolation, harassment, lack of mentoring and career opportunities, women working in male-dominated industries experience higher stress and anxiety compared to women working in other fields.

Organizations are fighting for every bit of available talent out there, and study after study has found that the majority of Canadians would take less pay at a company where they feel respected and included, than remain with one they’re unhappy or unaligned with. Employers of choice make gender equity a company-wide effort that’s not limited to the leadership ranks. At their core, great companies are inclusive throughout.


Data was compiled by the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin. Data source Statistics Canada 2021 Census .

About Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada

The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada is a network of women created for women to empower, expand and retain employment of — and shift attitudes about — women in the industry and beyond. This includes supporting the industry with issues around training, safety, career progression, education, mentoring and more.

Established in 2015, WTFC has a significant, and loyal membership and following of women and men in the industry — from drivers to carrier executives.