For a Female Trucker, Life on Road Can Be 'Poisonous'
The biggest problem: male truckers. The 'Mary Review' investigates
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2016 10:32 AM CDT
Updated Jul 17, 2016 6:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Being a trucker is by all accounts a tough job. Among other things, it comes with all kinds of related health risks, from heart disease to depression, which is why turnover is an astronomical 90% in the first year. Tougher still is being a female trucker: As an investigative story at the Mary Review makes clear, women in the industry have to deal with the same problems as their male counterparts while up against an oppressive, sexist culture in which their complaints are largely shrugged off. And it's probably worse than you think: "Many of them describe a poisonous atmosphere where they’re subjected to on-the-job sexual harassment ranging from catcalling to rape," writes Mary Pilon. "A review of legal documents, as well as interviews with dozens of drivers, lawyers, and industry experts, reveals a broken structure of accountability that creates few incentives for taking their claims seriously and, in many cases, leaves women in danger."

By most industry estimates, men make up 95% of truckers, which means women entering the field—often in their 40s or 50s when the kids are grown—are paired with male instructors when training and male drivers while on the road if their company uses a team-driving approach. The cramped quarters and isolated roads set up a situation in which "if you're a harasser, it's almost ideal," says one sociology professor who has studied the issue. The EEOC has logged 414 complaints between 2005 and 2015, which the Mary Review notes is striking given the relatively low number of female drivers. Worse, about two-thirds of those women say they experienced retaliation as a result, while companies are generally reluctant to get rid of veteran male drivers. The story catalogues several specific cases and related lawsuits—including a class-action case—in the works. Click to read the full piece.