A social listening survey conducted by haulage digital marketplace SNAP has revealed firm support from HGV drivers for more women to join the sector but that conditions must change to encourage this shift.

SNAP used its social media pages to prompt HGV drivers to share their thoughts on how to encourage more female truck drivers into the industry.

Currently, women make up just 20% of workers in the transport industry.

The survey found that 41% of drivers suggested drastic changes must occur for the industry to appeal to women. They stated a lack of facilities and an old-fashioned culture as key deterrents to those women considering HGV driving as a career.

In March 2024, the DfT confirmed that 38 locations across England will receive an investment of £6m, with an additional £10.5m from the industry. Funding is to be used to improve facilities for HGV drivers.

SNAP’s survey found that 21% of drivers said that those improvements must cater to both men and women if they are to succeed in attracting females into the job.

One truck driver on SNAP’s social media pages said: “There have been loads of female drivers at my last job, all capable of doing the job. What upset them most was the lack of facilities for them.”

Another commented: “Never mind not enough facilities for women, there are not enough facilities all over the country.”

Worringly, 15% of female drivers surveyed said they were concerned at the discrimination in the industry, including harassment and sexist comments.

One female driver said: “Maybe women don’t want to do it because of the attitude of some men in the industry. I get sexist comments and implications about whether I can drive all the time. I can see how it would put off women.”

The SNAP report points to a 2019 European Transport Workers Federation (EFT) survey of around 3,000 women transport workers which aimed to uncover the real reasons for the low female employment rate in transport. Results found that women encountered a dominant culture of masculinity and discrimination.

It also cites the 2021 All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport which found that out of 567 industry professionals surveyed, 70% explained they had experienced discriminatory behaviour or language - reinforcing an urgent need for change. 

On a more positive note the report praises the rise in initiatives that encourage diversity and inclusion, such as the 2023 launch of a training course to amplify women in the fleet sector, by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

It also notes that social media is changing driver perceptions.

HGV driver Jodi Smith uses the SNAP platform to encourage more women into the industry.

She said: ”Lorry driving isn’t a man’s job – I can do this job with a full set of acrylics. It’s quite physical, but it’s not hard. I just love my job. It is good money and a great community, and I want more girls to consider it.”

SNAP also points to the influx of female truck drivers appearing on TikTok in recent years, to share their positive experiences and help bridge the gender gap in the transport sector.

From SNAP’s social media, 7% stated they had seen a notable increase in female drivers in recent years, reflecting a 2023 DfT report which revealed a 188% increase in women taking a practical LGV test in 2021/22, compared to a decade before (2011/12).

SNAP’s research also found the consensus among many HGV drivers on the inclusion of women in the trade belies the sterotype they are often labelled with.

SNAP received comments from many male drivers advocating for more women in the industry:

”I have no doubts that women could do just as good a job as men,” one said, while another added: ”More female drivers could fill the gap. I’ve known great female drivers.”