The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held its first Women Of Trucking Advisory Board meeting Wednesday, Nov. 9. Its formation was mandated as part of the Biden Infrastructure bill passed last year to help boost opportunities for women in the trucking and logistics industries.
Unveiled at the event was the report titled “Crime Prevention for Truckers” (CPT), a 104-page response to surveys compiled by Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio. Almost immediately after the report was released, members of WOTAB rebuked the report, claiming that “inappropriate touching” was used too broadly, and disguised the instances of rape and sexual assault inside the much less severe wording.
Issues with survey respondents, terminology, and sample size muddy the opinions formed by the CPT report
A big issue that was raised was the small sample size of the government report. Only 653 responses were taken, of which nearly 70% were from men, and 63% of that group were white.
WOTAB member Kellylynn McLaughlin, a driver with Schneider National, had this to say about the report,
“I was one of the 200 women who responded that I had received multiple harassment issues. I’m constantly surprised by the low numbers of respondents in surveys that are supposed to represent us. We know that when it comes to rape or harassment, it’s most often not reported because it’s difficult and often not well received. But I don’t know a single woman driver that has not encountered some sort of harassment. How do we get real numbers, more than 200 women to respond to a survey? I would like to see action items in how we get better numbers. There’s power in numbers.”
Anne Balay, activist and a leader of LGBTQ+ trucker community, was one of the voices against the report
In the public meeting that unveiled the report, Anne Balay was one of the loudest voices against the conclusions. Balay is a professor, researcher, oral historian, mother, auto mechanic, truck driver, lesbian, and activist, as she stated in her interview with Uber Freight.
Balay said during the public meeting:
“I’m a social scientist and I’ve done extensive research on this subject, and I have to say that hearing that being touched inappropriately is the most severe reportage is incredibly inaccurate. Rape is incredibly common, and calling rape as being ‘touched inappropriately’ is extremely offensive.”
“I interviewed many [women] truckers who reported that rape is considered a part of the job. It’s very important that this group acknowledges that. We as the Women of Trucking Advisory Board need to challenge how this survey was done and get a survey that has data that is meaningful and reflects what is happening in our industry.”
John Gallagher, FreightWaves’ Washington Correspondent, is following the story and has responses from the FMCSA leaders in his article here at the link.
(Author’s Note: Women Of Trucking and Women In Trucking are two different organizations. WOTAB is a government advisory board while Women In Trucking is an independent organization.)