Women in the Modern Supply Chain: Jobs to Consider
Women were often excluded from the logistics and supply chain workforce for a variety of fading reasons. Hands-on jobs such as warehouse positions or truck driving, which require some physical skills or machinery knowledge, were commonly considered positions for men to hold. Similarly, advancement for women in the workplace to leadership positions was limited. A new age of diversity is opening for women and other minorities in the industry as organizations do their part in creating opportunities for everyone. Organizations are actively working to create a supply chain environment where women have equal opportunities to thrive.
Historically, supply chain and transportation jobs have been occupied by mostly male workers due to more exaggerated “gender roles” in the workplace that deterred many women from applying to these positions or created bias around hiring them. However, with these “roles” fading in the modern workplace, companies are making a concerted effort to diversify and bring women into these environments. Garter’s 2022 Women in Supply Chain survey found that women made up 39% of the supply chain workforce. While there is still progress to be made, it is a great time for women to break into the industry. There are plenty of paths for women to consider for both their first jobs in the supply chain industry, or for long-term career goals.
Here are some examples of less common supply chain jobs for women to explore:
Forklift operators have special certification to use forklift machinery to move materials throughout a facility. This position is commonly associated with male workers because of the mechanical aspect, but anyone can obtain their forklift certification! Operating forklifts and other heavy machinery requires skill and precision, which anyone of any gender can possess. Women can excel as forklift operators, moving and stacking materials efficiently and safely in environments such as warehouses, stores, or manufacturing facilities.
Material Handlers do just that- move materials around the warehouse and prepare them for transport! Material handlers also play a key role in monitoring inventory and potential shortages. Since this is a job that incorporates some physical aspects, it has historically been occupied by mostly male workers. Warehouse personnel are in high demand, and these positions make a great entry-level start to a long-term career path.
Truck drivers are responsible for transporting consumer goods, food, medical supplies, manufacturing supplies and more all over the country. According to research from Women in Trucking, women made up 14% of professional drivers in 2022. Data from the BLS found that women now make up about 8% of professional truck drivers and delivery drivers and 14% of Class A licensed drivers. The American Trucking Association predicts a record-high shortage of 82,000 truck drivers by 2024! Women can play an important role in easing the shortage and diversifying the trucking workforce while cultivating a lucrative career.
Women are joining the trucking-side of the supply chain industry in more ways than behind-the-wheel. There are many functional roles to get involved in, including dispatching. This job is an exciting combination of analytical, interpersonal, organizational, and communication skills that involves the coordination and execution of truck driver schedules to ensure shipments are being delivered and picked-up on-time. Representation in this previously male-dominated role is strongly increasing. The 2022 Women in Trucking Index found women made up about 44.7% of dispatcher roles.
Women looking for a more sales-style role in the industry can work as freight brokers/agents, who act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers. Freight brokers have their own certified authority to arrange and move freight, while freight agents work under the leadership of a freight brokerage firm.They research leads, negotiate transportation contracts, match freight with available carriers, and manage logistics coordination to facilitate smooth freight transportation. Demand for freight brokers is rising alongside increases in freight traffic and e-commerce deliveries.
These are just a few examples of the many career paths available in logistics. Remember, these jobs may not be as commonly associated with women workers, but women can excel in any role they choose. Breaking gender stereotypes and pursuing these uncommon jobs can contribute to a more inclusive and diverse industry. It's important to note that women can succeed in any role within the industry, and their skills, expertise, and dedication are valued in shaping the future of logistics.