Women in logistics: It’s a good thing for multiple reasons
There is no doubt that diversity is an amazing trait to have within a business. For evidence, look no further than a recent IMF staff study, which found that barriers to women entering the labor force are even costlier than suggested by previous research.
There are several reasons for this. First, the more diverse a workforce, the more likely it is to produce innovative ideas. As the study notes, there is an economic benefit from diversity —that is, from bringing women and others into the labor force. Simply put, businesses tend to be more successful when people bring different skills and perspectives to the workplace, including different attitudes about risk and collaboration. This is true at all levels: Studies show that the financial performance of firms improves with more gender-equal corporate boards.
What this means in logistics
Whether the job is in freight, operations, procurement, or logistics, a 2012 study by the Van Horne Institute found that women are severely underrepresented in logistics. In fact, one estimate concluded that out of the estimated 125 million people working in logistics, only 1 to 2 percent are women.
One of the problems is perception, which largely holds that logistics careers mean moving and lifting. Women of course can do this kind of work, but this perception doesn’t help. Keep in mind that the trucking industry has nearly 170,000 women drivers and that is certainly demanding work, mentally and physically.
But there are other barriers. Women can also experience bias when they come to work in logistics, some overt, some more subtle. For example, safety gear is difficult to find in anything but large sizes. It can also be uncomfortable for women to look around and see there are very few female co-workers around them.
Actually, women may be better equipped
In the complex, fast-paced work of logistics fields, people must manage time, budget money, think quickly, and help varying personalities work together smoothly. Few will argue with the conclusion that many women are natural problem solvers. Added Ellen Voie, President, and CEO of Women in Trucking, an American non-profit group, “Women are problem-solvers. We have traditionally had to deal with family budgets and evaluating risk and reward in our family lives, so when it comes to bringing value to employers, we can draw from that discipline and experience.”
What is happening now?
Airspace partnered with Women in Data Science to host the first-ever event in San Diego. This brought together some of the brightest female minds in the industry for an afternoon of Data Science focused learning. Adding to the momentum is Women in Logistics and Transport, launched three years ago to support women in the industry. In its first year, it gained 1600 members from 14 countries. However, it has no chapter in the United States … yet.
When I first started at Airspace, I had no experience in the logistics industry. As an outsider looking in, it was very evident there was definitely a deficit of women. After a year of working here, I have noticed obvious changes in trying to diversify not only at Airspace, but the whole industry. I am definitely excited to see more women succeeding in logistics!