The Role of Women in Transforming Mexico’s Trucking Industry

Mexico’s trucking industry is facing various challenges, including gender-based violence and armed robbery, which have made it difficult to attract women to the profession. Currently, less than 3% of all lorry drivers globally are women, despite the acknowledgment that they are safer drivers than men. However, some women in Mexico have found empowerment and career opportunities as lorry drivers, also known as “traileras.” These women are determined to break gender barriers and make a positive impact on the industry. By increasing the representation of women in the workforce, they believe they can help transform the sector and address labor shortages.

One of these traileras is Clara Fragoso, who became a lorry driver 18 years ago as a means to escape an abusive marriage and provide a better life for herself and her children. Her journey hasn’t been without risks, with encounters involving armed robbers and dangerous roads controlled by drug cartels. However, even in these dangerous situations, Fragoso has come across individuals who showed compassion and empathy, breaking the stereotypes associated with criminals. She believes that among the “rats” they encounter on the road, there are both good and bad individuals.

Women lorry drivers in Mexico represent only 2% of the industry’s workforce. This is a common trend not only in Mexico but in many other countries as well. The International Road Transport Organization (IRU) states that less than 3% of truck drivers globally are women, with exceptions in China (5%) and the US (8%). However, the industry is facing labor shortages, which presents an opportunity to make more space for women and diversify the workforce.

Liszt Hyde González, another trailera, shares a similar journey of overcoming domestic violence and financial struggles. While being a lorry driver was not her dream, González saw it as a solution to her financial problems. She now drives a red truck named Diavolo and dreams of challenging stereotypes by driving a red convertible with the wind blowing through her hair.

The road to the US-Mexico border is a treacherous one for these women. They face constant threats of violence, harassment, and cargo theft. Despite the creation of the National Guard in Mexico in 2019, aimed at preventing crimes on the roads, truck drivers still experience risks and rely on their own resilience and strategies to ensure their safety.

Moreover, Fragoso and González highlight other issues that concern women lorry drivers, such as the lack of proper showering facilities and the need to navigate a male-dominated environment. They emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and demanding respect in order to establish a safe working environment.

Both women have utilized social media to amplify their voices and share their experiences as women lorry drivers. They have thousands of followers and fight against stereotypes in the industry. Additionally, Fragoso mentors and supports newcomer Martha Patricia Trejo, helping her navigate the challenges of the profession and maintaining her confidence.

The transport industry, like any other, has its own set of problems that need to be addressed. Fragoso emphasizes the need to address the bad habits and unspoken issues within the industry. They believe that increasing the representation of women in the workforce will not only resolve the labor shortage but also bring about transformative changes.

Women like Fragoso and González are breaking barriers and challenging societal norms by pursuing their careers as lorry drivers. With their resilience and determination, they are inspiring other women to join the profession and advocating for a safer and more inclusive industry. By sharing their stories, these traileras are driving change in Mexico’s trucking industry.