Women are doing it for themselves, and doing it rather well, as we found at the Queensland Trucking Association's inaugural Women in Road Transport International Women's Day breakfast event March 7 at the Brisbane Golf Club, Yeerongpilly.
The theme of the event was How Gender Diversity is Moving the Road Transport Industry Forward. Panel members included QTA's 2011 Trucking Woman of the Year Award winner and board of director, Roz Shaw - CEO Hawkins Transport and Emma Smith, training co-ordinator - NQX Training College as well as Andrew Lock - branch manager of Cummins South Pacific.
The hosts for the day were Peter Garske from the QTA and Louise Perram-Fisk the director of Queensland Transport's Transform unit, a unit that specialises in attracting, training and mending the skills shortages in the transport sector.
In an interlude of speakers Louise told the audience of more than 120 people a touching anecdote of her youth. She said during her youth she was always following her dad around the farm. One day when she was trailing him on the farm and a mate of his pointed and said "behind every great man there is a great women". She was curious and asked her dad what that meant. The hulking farmer knelt down to his daughter in the red dust so he was eye level with her and told her: "You don't need to know what that means because you will never be behind any man."
Women speakers Roz Shaw and Emma Smith were inspirational in their speeches and are both leaders in the transport industry.
Roz spoke of growing up in a family business and mindset of her parents treating all the children the same. They all did everything around the transport yard which taught her women can do anything, especially with the changes to technology the physical barriers inhibiting women have been removed.
A 16-year-old, unskilled young women, asks you for a job. Would you hire her? Would you take a chance on her?
These words marked the opening and closing remarks of one of the transport industry's brightest stars.
Emma Smith is now the training co-ordinator of NQX Training College however she faced a choice earlier in her career."Being young, new and female was a triple threat and obstacle to the beginning of my career," she explained.
She climbed the ranks from a receptionist to be sought out for the current position she is now in. She said gender diversity within road transport is a global and national discussion point with many initiatives built around its improvement.
"By continuing to increase the awareness of its existence, it will enable our Industry to respond more with cultures more conducive with the support and sustainability of women within our workforce through formal support mechanisms including mentoring and networks as well as increasing the visibility of the current critical mass of women that exist within our wider industry and community," she said. "We know the Transport and Logistics industry is a critical component of the Australian economy and underlies all Industry Sectors in some way, responsible for 14.5% of Australia's GDP (gross domestic product) and providing more than 1 million jobs across 165,000 companies in this country alone.
"Consider this with new information of population growth, we are expecting 35 million by 2050- and if 51% of Australia's population are female then the Gender Diversity subject can and should be the solution to the wider Transport & Logistics skill shortage issue.
"This is how Gender Diversity has and will continue to move our Industry forward- by fulfilling the immediate and critical skill shortage our Industry withstands," she said.