The transport and warehousing industry is typically a male-dominated industry and interestingly women representation has declined slightly over the last twenty years currently standing at almost 21% versus 23% in 1998. To grasp more insight into the culture of the industry we spoke to Gabrielle Cousins, the Operations Manager at APF Cold Storage and Logistics about her journey and experiences.
How did you end up in the logistics industry? Would you encourage other women to do the same? Do you have any advice for them?
I had spent the first ten years of my working life in the retail sector and quit my job of eight years at a large retail chain to go on an extended overseas trip. When I got back, I was looking for work and I got offered a job as a delivery driver at APF! It was a pretty big change from what I had done previously, I would absolutely encourage women to give it a go! In terms of advice I would give to women entering the workforce I would say this industry poses challenges, especially because it is male dominated, however, try not to let that throw you off because you will find this career path very rewarding.
The logistics industry is perceived as an “old boy’s network”. Do you think it is important to have younger demographics, both male and female, enter into the workforce?
I think it still is to some degree, but most industries are still “old boys clubs”, things won’t change if we don’t change. I believe it is essential in this industry to have people from all sorts of backgrounds providing new perspectives on how the industry can be improved. It is getting more common now to see women in driving roles, when I first started, I do remember seeing a few surprised faces.
Do you think it is important for more female representation in the transport and logistics industry?
It’s really important for any industry to have a diverse set of workers but especially transport as it has traditionally been a male dominated field. The more representation we have the more likely we are to attract people with skill sets that suit that would not have ordinarily thought this industry would be for them.
Have you faced any challenge(s) working in the industry? If so, what were they and why do you think you encountered them?
I have definitely had a few interesting interactions. It’s just been the standard sexist comments, from old boys not used to dealing with women in “their” industry, all revolving around the standard notion because you’re a woman you can’t possibly do this job. I did have an interesting/annoying encounter driving down a main road in peak hour standstill traffic with a truck cab next to me full of blokes who noticed me driving the truck and trying to chat at me/harass me in that way that a pack of young men tend to do.
What can we do now?
Moving forward in order to attract more women into the industry increased exposure of women in a variety of roles is a good start. Representation is the one of the strongest motivators in attaining more women into the workforce as newcomers can recognise and visualise themselves in this operational roles as they see women before them have dreamt these same dreams and are living proof these are valid, achievable and attainable.