The logistics industry is a traditionally male-dominated field, but rising numbers of women are making their presence felt within the realm of supply chain management each year.
Women in logistics make invaluable contributions to the industry with unique perspectives, creativity and innovative solutions, paving the way for female workers of the future. Though the gender gap is slowly closing, many challenges remain for women seeking opportunities for career advancement within the industry.
How Large is the Logistics Gender Gap?
The number of women in supply chain management careers grows steadily each year, though men still make up the vast majority. According to Gartner’s 2022 Women in Supply Chain survey, women make up just 39% of the industry’s total workforce. Additionally, despite the size of this gender gap shrinking over the years the industry still struggles to see a proportionate number of women moving up the corporate ladder.
We recently asked First Call’s Principal Business Architect Tiffany Soots to weigh in on the matter of women’s roles in the supply chain.
“When I started in logistics 10+ years ago, most of the women I worked with were either sales, operations or customer reps,” she said. “I mean, my whole team was made up of women. But then you looked across the aisle at the carrier rep side and we had maybe a handful of women working as carrier reps. I asked one of my good friends (who has been in the industry for 15+ years as a carrier rep) about this. She said she had to prove to her team that she was a valuable asset, and that she could in fact ‘sling freight’ as well as anyone else.”
The same Gartner survey reported only 21% of vice president and senior director positions in logistics were occupied by women — a lower figure than in 2021. This lack of representation indicates a growing trend of losing female employees at mid-career points. When asked why they decided to leave their company, more than half of the surveyed women cited a lack of opportunities for career advancement and development.
The inability to retain women through their mid-career point is a huge area of concern for employers, who risk losing the valuable experience of these seasoned employees as well as input and perspectives they might’ve provided to boards and director-level management positions — had they stayed.
While there are some positive signs indicating the logistics gender gap is narrowing, much work remains to be done to ensure women receive equal opportunities to enter and advance within the industry.
Women Can Help Solve New Supply Chain Challenges
We asked some of our own FCL team members to highlight the skills they feel are most crucial to achieving success in supply chain roles:
“Patience, attention to detail, an ability to respond and react quickly and calmly, good communication skills, and an awareness of the changes in the industry. The logistics marketplace changes quickly!” — Renee
“Patience and knowing not everything is perfect. Mistakes happen all the time, but learning how to build relationships with those carriers is how you grow.” — Nicole
“Awareness, communication and commitment.” — Airenne
Considering a Career in Logistics?
Female workers represent a large pool of potential capable of driving efficient supply chain management. As such, industry-wide hiring processes and recruitment efforts are being continuously evaluated to remove hidden biases that may be preventing women from entering the workforce and moving up the corporate ladder. Additionally, many companies are looking into new programs to help women get past the mid-career roadblock causing so many to leave their jobs.
If you’re considering entering the field of logistics, here’s some advice from women who know the industry best:
“It’s exciting, challenging and financially rewarding if you’re willing to work hard. And you’ll never be bored!” — Renee
“Take everything with a grain of salt. It is not personal, it’s business — things can and will go wrong. Take every phone call like a new day.” — Nicole
“Get ready to grind! <3” — Airenne
The future of women in logistics is bright! Make your mark on the global supply chain by talking to a First Call expert today about our current career opportunities.