This week, resident expert, Andy Gibbs, dons his Ginger Spice Union Jack dress and contemplates the growth of ‘Girl Power’ behind the wheel. Let’s quickly move on before that image embeds too deep in our minds…..
“On the 4th of June 1913, Suffragette Emily Davison famously threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. She had campaigned for most of her life for women’s suffrage and equal rights.
The last 10 to 15 years have seen a large influx of women joining the transport industries; be it freight or passenger, tipper or coach and bus drivers. Female professional drivers are becoming more and more familiar and each new arrival is a step towards ending the stigma of this being a male dominated industry.
Already, I can hear one side accusing me of being patronising and the other suggesting I’ve lost the plot. Well, one at a time, please!
Firstly, this is one of the most regulated, if not the most regulated industry and it is also the most diverse and interesting. The skills of the professional driver change and increase with every day spent on the road. There can be language barriers for continental work and a minefield of legal aspects to just get through. It’s not the straight forward driving job that is generally thought, but by that same token it’s not neurosurgery and certainly not to be likened to a Red Arrows pilot!
Good Drivers with a Passion for the Job
Women are involved at all levels of industry, so why not professional driving? If I say this industry needs women drivers, I would agree that it could easily be misconstrued as patronising. The truth is, it does need good drivers with a passion for the job, a high level of concentration and a very good sense of humour. If you can meet those criteria, then boxes marked male/female shouldn’t even exist.
Emily Davison gained first class honours in many subjects at Oxford, but in the early 1900s, women were not admitted to degrees, so that was as far as she could go. Oh my, how things have changed in the 100 years since her death. Now, if you want it, you go and get it.
The FTA continues to sponsor the prestigious everywomen in Transport and Logistics Awards; an annual ceremony that highlights female role models and promotes a positive view on the subject. There are statistics suggesting that around just 1% of drivers are female and it hoped that by recognising the talent and skills that women bring to the industry, more will be encouraged to join. Nominations for the awards open again in December 2013 for the 2014 ceremony to be held in May.
However, 1% is certainly a start and working on the saying that: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”, leads me to ask: Ladies, what are you waiting for? Get your boots on and you’ll probably need that Hi Vis too!!”