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The Girls Are Out There!

23rd August, 2011

Some think of the UK haulage industry and it is Yorkie bars and burger vans in lay-bys that spring to mind. They picture the average British HGV or PSV driver as more likely than not being a white, middle-aged man. When was the last time you took a sideways glance on the motorway and saw a woman behind the wheel of a HGV or PSV in the slow lane?

Sadly, public perceptions reflect the reality and, whilst the number of women HGV drivers is increasing, women are still vastly underrepresented in the haulage industry, apparently representing approximately only 1% of all registered HGV drivers in the UK. So why is it that women are choosing not to enter this male dominated industry?

Some suggest that the haulage industry has only itself to blame. Historically, truck stops only had male toilets and showers, women were a rare sight and a female HGV driver walking into a truck stop café caused an awkward silence as everyone watched, wondering what she was doing there. Those days are, however, long gone; truck stop facilities are improving, and whilst there are reports that ‘night ladies’ still knock on cab doors at truck stops in the middle of the night, women drivers now seem to be considered as “one of the boys”.

That said, the haulage industry has been so male dominated for so long that life on the road may still be difficult for women.

Historically, women have undertaken the main childcare responsibilities within the family unit. The general public perception is that, due to the nature of the haulage industry, HGV drivers are required to work long, unsociable hours, which are not conducive to a family environment; however, how far does this reflect reality?

The job of an HGV driver can, arguably, be whatever you want it to be; if you want to deliver locally and finish in time to collect the children from school, you can, but, equally, you can see the world!

The raft of family-friendly legislation introduced in recent years affords greater employment protection to women than ever before and makes it increasingly easy and acceptable for women’s employers to tailor their jobs to meet the demands of family life.

Fair enough, the haulage industry is still full of male camaraderie and women will hear their fair share of sexist, stereotypical remarks but do male drivers really treat female drivers any differently to their male counterparts? Even if they do, the difference in treatment may simply be a willingness to assist women drivers that may not be offered to male drivers; no doubt to some that might in itself seem patronising!

For advice and assistance in relation to any aspect of road transport law, contact Tim Culpin on 01244 405533 or email him at [email protected].

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