In recent years, the trucking industry has been undergoing a significant transformation. As truck driver shortages in Europe continue, women are slowly, yet increasingly getting behind the wheel of heavy-duty vehicles. Breaking the stereotype of truck driving as a “man’s job,” women are proving that they have what it takes to excel in this profession. Tatsiana, one of the professional drivers at Girteka, explains what it means for a woman to be a truck driver and why it is worth considering choosing this career.
Still a “man’s job” only?
“I am sure that a truck driver’s job was “men’s work” in Soviet times, but now all that is left of it is the definition. When our fathers and grandfathers drove MAZs and KAMAZs off-road and repaired their trucks in any weather, with oil all over their elbows – that was “tough truck driving”. There were no proper conditions and the vehicles were in bad shape… That has all changed,” she comments.
Despite the stereotypical thinking, Tatsiana says she does not face any difficulties in her work as a woman. And the reactions from her male colleagues have been largely positive. She has good routes, a reliable vehicle, and does not drive off-road. However, she is aware of how tough the job of a professional driver is, especially in countries like Norway or Sweden, where conditions are harsh.
Tatsiana remembers well how she joined Girteka: “I asked the girls – do you take women? She answered “yes”. Then I continued – how many women do you have? “Not many, but we are doing our best to attract more.” It was that phrase that played a key role, a magical one, you might say. And the next day I signed the contract to join Girteka as a truck driver.”
When it comes to career aspirations, this driver prefers to remain on the road rather than being placed in an office. “My chair is a driver’s seat, not an office one. And what kind of career can a driver have? From one truck to another. But if we ever haul outsized goods across Europe, the ones up to 60 meters long, then I will come and ask them to put me in such a truck,” she says.
Plenty of potential
Tatsiana believes that long-distance trucking could actually be seen as a woman’s profession. That is why she encourages other women to consider a career as professional drivers. She inspired one of her friends to become a truck driver and emphasizes that women should seek advice from other women in the profession, rather than relying on the opinions of men.
“If a woman wants to go into this profession, let her talk to a woman. Among my female colleagues, there is not a single one who complains that it is very difficult,” she notes.
As for the advantages and disadvantages of being a female truck driver, Tatsiana highlights the challenge of being away from home as the primary drawback. However, she also appreciates the opportunity to read, listen to audiobooks, and have time for self-reflection during her long journeys. She considers truck driving a stress-relieving activity and finds it more enjoyable than her previous jobs.
“I get a thrill out of my job. It can be -15 outside today and +20 tomorrow. The scenery outside the window is always changing, people are changing too. It is very interesting to witness all that,” she shares.
Women’s representation in trucking
According to the latest study by the International Road Transport Union (IRU), in 2021, less than 3% of truck drivers in Europe were women. If the trucking industry managed to attract more women employees, they would not only contribute to addressing the driver shortage issue but also pave the way for greater diversity and inclusion in the sector. With their proven abilities, dedication, and adaptability, women truck drivers are undoubtedly valuable addition to the workforce and play a crucial role in driving the industry forward. As more women enter the field, they bring with them unique perspectives, skills, and experiences, like Tatsiana, enriching the profession and contributing to a more diverse and innovative workforce.
With growing support from employers like Girteka and the industry at large, women truck drivers are now able to access various career advancement opportunities, training, and mentorship programs tailored to their needs. At Girteka, gender equality and diversity are central to the company’s values and recruitment strategies. Recognizing the importance of a balanced workforce, the company actively encourages the inclusion of women in the trucking industry and strives to create a supportive and equal work environment for all drivers.
By promoting the message that truck driving is a profession for everyone, Girteka aims to break down gender stereotypes and foster an inclusive culture. Our commitment to gender equality is reflected in our efforts to hire more women drivers, offering equal opportunities and support for career growth regardless of gender.