The Australian transport industry has a gender problem; not enough women work in transport and those that do don’t occupy the same number of high-paying leadership roles as men do. ATN sat down with aspiring Fleet manager and Women in Fleet Scholarship recipient Jessy Davis to talk about the opportunities out there for women.
Australia’s transport system is in a labour crisis. There aren’t enough young people eager to take up the career. One solution is to increase the female participation rate in the transport industry which is currently the third most male-dominated sector by employment, behind construction and mining.
Right now, women make up just 27.4 per cent of Australia’s transport workforce, despite making up around half the population.
Statistics from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency also highlight the gender imbalance and lack of equality in the transport sector that exists for the women who work in the industry.
The gender pay gap in the transport sector is higher than the national average at – 15.9 per cent as against 13.9 per cent. While Only 4.5 per cent of transport CEOs are women –well below the Australian average of 20 per cent.
One of the many initiatives aimed at combating these trends is a new partnership between Toyota Fleet Management (TFM) and the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) to offer a Scholarship Program for women to attain the association’s Diploma of Leadership and Management.
Under the Scholarship Program, TFM sponsors a 70 per cent scholarship for Women in Fleet and Fleet Leaders Under 30 that helps recipients undertake the Diploma course at Melbourne’s Swinburne University.
The course provides comprehensive training in fleet management, addressing industry-specific challenges and trends and offers access to top-tier education, to help foster innovation and drive change.
One recent recipient, Jessy Davis who won the scholarship in 2022, says it has helped her career and given her great exposure to be a successful leader in the future.
Davis always had a keen interest in vehicles and transportation, so when an opportunity to work in the industry presented itself, she grabbed it with both hands.
Her first industry job was a role in the Department of Planning and Environment where Jessy says she was lucky enough to receive an aboriginal identified role.
Then In 2019 Jessy was successful in receiving a promotion into the Fleet Operations team located in Orange where she works now.
Davis is interested in all aspects of the Australian fleet task, including the ever-increasing number of electric vehicles in the country, as well as the work her department has done with vehicle telematics where she says they are now a leader within the NSW government.
Davis says opportunities to experience new technology and the support she receives as an indigenous person at work is very encouraging.
“The opportunity to drive other vehicle technology such as the Toyota Mirai hydrogen vehicle has also given me great satisfaction in my role.
“As a proud aboriginal woman, I am also extremely proud of the aboriginal artwork that the Department has invested in on several our vehicles in Orange,” Davis says.
But mostly, Davis says, she enjoys the relationships she develops with clients.
“I love interacting with other people and managing my portfolio of clients allows me to do this,” she says.
“I truly enjoy the Fleet team that I work in. We are a small team, but we all get on well. We operate in a very high-volume work area, however everyone is happy to pitch in and help.
“Our working relationship is great, and I have learnt that anything can be resolved with a smile and some patience.”
Davis says she is totally committed to quality customer service and enjoys working with her team and her clients to manage their fleet assets.
Getting involved with the AFMA has helped Davis to broaden her professional experience even further.
“Having the opportunity to attend the AFMA conference over the last few years has been great and has allowed me to interact with staff from right across the fleet industry.
“I hope that my receiving the scholarship and successfully completing the course will inspire other young aboriginal people to follow my lead.
The course has also helped Davis to realise her leadership potential, which she says she hadn’t had time to focus on in the past.
“I had limited management experience before starting the course, however the course gave me great exposure to be a successful leader in the future,” Davis says.
“During the course I was able to work with different people and learn from them and their experiences while sharing mine with them.
“Receiving the scholarship and completing the course has given me the confidence to be able to further my career in the fleet environment.”.
While Davis says she is extremely satisfied with her career path, she admits there is still much progress to be made for better outcomes for women in the industry.
“The main challenge that I see women facing is that the fleet industry has traditionally been seen as a male dominated area.
“Women have much to offer the industry and I am encouraged as I attend different events to see more and more women in attendance.
“It was also encouraging to see the growing number of women who completed the Diploma in Leadership and Management last year.”
For Davis solving the gender inequity issue comes down to breaking the stereotype that the fleet industry is dominated by men.
For now , Davis says her long-term career goal is to be a fleet manager within a government environment and to be seen as leader in the industry. Davis says she will always recommend other women to get a start in the industry.
“I would encourage other women to pursue a career in the fleet industry because I believe it will provide many opportunities for them into the future.”