Jennifer Chard has trucking in her blood. Its been a passion since she was young when her uncle had Jennifer sit in one of his trucks. “I was obsessed, and I’ve been obsessed with trucks and trucking since that time” she says. Even though it was something Jennifer has always wanted to do, the love didn’t come without its difficulties.
Jennifer received her licence at the end of April 2019. During her schooling, there were seven different companies that came to speak about the potentials and opportunities with them once licenced. Just imagining the excitement of being on the road and fulfilling the dream right away after school sounded easy with the current demand. “Every single one of them would focus on the fact that we were women. Thinking that they really wanted us, in a positive way”, says Chard. Jennifer handed out between 200-300 applications or resumes for AZ positions since she graduated and only received two phone calls and one interview about seven months later. In her class of fifteen students, two were female. Immediately after graduating, Jennifer confirmed that all thirteen males were employed, and it was only the two women that were still waiting for a call back.
According to HR Trucking Canada, only 3% of drivers in Canada are women. Chard has never had a reason to be sensitive to her gender, but the lack of call backs can be very discouraging. Employers may be unconsciously recruiting males and overlooking females in the transportation industry. “I have never been insecure or someone who’s really cared what people thought. But I think just the timeline and how long it took to find a job got in my head. I am realizing that its because I am a woman and I’m not getting a job kind of stuck” observes Chard. It might not always be as easy to find a position in a male oriented industry as what people may think.
Equality has come a long way but still has such a long way to go. Hiring decisions can be unintentional when it comes to gender and can be difficult for someone in the minority to step out of their comfort zone to jump into the driver’s seat. Gender diversity has been increasing but can still be a challenge today.
Trucking is largely male encouraged because of the stigma and views towards the transportation industry. People may picture dirty trucks, long hauls away from home for days or weeks, sleeping and eating situations to be crammed and greasy. This image is not always accurate. Jennifer works Sunday to Thursday, keeps her truck clean, and is back home with her two sons daily. She has the flexibility and control in her life with plenty of options and hours in her position. Chard’s wages, benefits, and scheduled hours are the same as all drivers in her role at McClay’s Transportation Ltd. Jennifer is one of many female drivers at McClay’s Transportation. She is comfortable in her role and happy with the friendly, family environment. A place where hiring is based from skill of drivers and safety standards.
There is now more positive and encouraging supporters of females in the trucking industry, but the strong image remains. When it comes to other drivers, Jennifer mentions that she does “get some solid looks, and some are like, what are you doing in a truck? The feel is discouraging and definitely set me back”. The best advice that Jennifer is able to give is “don’t quit! Its expensive to get your licence so its obviously a passion and to not get discouraged”. Jennifer is an amazing voice with a great story that needed to be heard. As many people might have similar stories, its empowering to know that there are employment difficulties for gender equality in many industries. We are all growing, and eyes are opening. This is how we move forward.
*Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the presenter; they do not necessarily reflect the views of McClay’s Transportation. Opinions made in the article are reflective of Jennifer Chard – and since we are critically-thinking human beings, these views are subject for revision*