As with far too many parts of society, there is room for improvement when it comes to gender equality and employing women in hazmat transportation. To give just one appalling example from this past March, Business Insider revealed that women make up less than 17 percent of all hazardous materials removal workers. The median salary for male hazmat removal workers is almost twice that of their female coworkers.
Injustices like these will only continue to taint the industry until people in power take sweeping action. Thankfully, women and male allies have united to create programs encouraging more women to enter this workplace. In honor of Women’s History Month, we will highlight and honor some of these initiatives here.
DOT Women & Girls in Transportation Initiative
The Department of Transportation (DOT) – currently headed by Elaine Chao and staffed with 160 female executives – has its own program for encouraging women to work in transportation. The Women & Girls in Transportation Initiative (WITI) seeks to accomplish this through a number of means. This includes running internship programs around all 50 states, promoting STEM careers to young women, and creating regional Women in Transportation Advisory Committees.
Through WITI, women gain more opportunities for employment in any field under the DOT’s jurisdiction. This includes the transportation of hazardous materials. Any woman studying in college or university can apply for an internship opportunity through their region’s Small Business Transportation Resource Center. That internship could lead to opportunities for employment – something WITI is also working to expand. Perhaps most importantly, this initiative is also committed to identifying and breaking down potential “barriers to economic competitiveness.”
WTS International’s Transportation YOU
Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International has provided networking and career opportunities since 1977. In more than 40 years, the organization’s membership has expanded to 6500 members and 79 chapters in several countries. The female transportation workers who founded WTS International understood that “women’s careers would benefit from professional development, encouragement and recognition to support their advancement in transportation professions.” That is what they strive to offer with their services and programs.
That includes Transportation YOU, a mentorship program established in 2014. Through this program, WTS International works to stimulate girls’ (aged 13 to 18) interests in STEM careers and the transportation field. They offer programs, seminars, activities, and other events – the most significant being the annual Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit. Any young lady of any background can take part through their local WTS International chapter.
The Need for More Women in Hazmat Transportation
These and similar programs, as well as the actions of thoughtful individuals with similar goals, have already made dramatic changes in the industry. Just look at the senior leadership team at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Unusual for a governmental administration, it is evenly split between genders. With more women in all areas of the hierarchy, from hazmat employees fresh out of training to the most powerful officers and administrators, PHMSA and related organizations can better address the needs of women workers.
The modern fight for gender equality is gradually transforming just above everything in American culture, and hazmat transportation is certainly not insulated from this societal shift. It is true that men still disproportionately dominate the population of hazmat workers on all rungs of the ladder (both at present and historically). However, change is coming – indeed, it is already happening. Although we may still have a long way to go, we are getting there – together.
Start Your Hazmat Safety Training Today
Joining programs like Transportation YOU and WITI can help increase the number of women in hazmat transportation. However, before anyone can actually begin working with hazardous materials, they must understand the regulations for handling them and receive certification through training.
You can undergo hazmat training immediately with Hazmat University. Our programs are entirely online, so anyone can complete them from anywhere and progress at their own pace. We are doing our part to provide both men and women access to comprehensive hazmat training.Call 1-844-LEARNDG (532-7634) to get started today.