MAN Truck & Bus
MAN Truck & Bus
A small fleet of vehicles arrive at the MAN test track on the edge of Munich in dribs and drabs on one of the few snowy days in January. Alongside a MAN TGX Individual Lion S, that draws the eye with its exclusive exterior design in Lion red, a black tipper with neon yellow signwriting comes to a halt. On the other side of the TGX, a no less striking MAN truck rolls to a stop, painted in black with pink statement elements such as the MAN logo on the radiator and a swirling “Christina” on the sun visor. When the doors of the two new arrivals open, the greetings are enthusiastic. Christina Scheib and Nadine Achatz hug with a laugh. It’s time for an update, there’s lots to talk about.
is the current shortage
will be the shortage in 2030
The pair are part of a group of seven women who are only meeting for the second time, but who already form a kind of think-tank to share their thoughts on the future of the truck industry from a female perspective. The “WoMAN Workshop” organised by MAN Truck & Bus asks important questions – and finds a great number of ideas for how to make professional truck driving a more attractive career choice for women and what role the vehicle itself plays in this. It’s an important task because Germany is currently facing a major challenge: on one hand, predictions expect a growing shortage of professional drivers (the current shortage is around 95,000 drivers, but this is set to rise to 200,000 by 2030), and on the other, only 2.7 percent of truck drivers are women.
To listen to the women in the MAN Pavilion, aged from their early 20s to mid 40s, you wouldn’t believe that. They talk about their dream jobs with conviction, wit and charm and without sugar-coating or glorifying things. A team from MAN’s Engineering Design department, headed by psychologist Dr Sigrun Weise, together with market researchers and MAN Truckers World listens intently. From nought to sixty in what feels like ten seconds, they create an atmosphere built on trust, without which it would be impossible to discuss sensitive topics such as hygiene, safety needs, working hours, pay or interactions between men and women openly and clearly in such a short time. MAN has taken an interest in the needs of both male and female drivers for many years to drive forward its user-centric development. In this series of workshops, the focus is solely on the female drivers.
Stephanie Bosch transports hazardous goods and adds, “You need to be quite thick skinned because the general tone is rougher than in other jobs.” Angie Doll also found it difficult at first to convince bosses that she could confidently manage big trucks and diggers. As it happens, she’s currently working towards her training qualifications. It’s another way to change the perspective.
The general conditions are not easy – as is so often the case, when women claim their place in a male domain. “It was even harder ten years ago,” says Cindy Schneppe, but a lot has already happened since then. Ultimately, “We work in a profession that was highly regarded as a critical job during the covid pandemic. That’s us! But we still have to prove it every day and fight for acceptance in our own industry,” confirms Christina Scheib, who also publicly campaigns to change the image of women drivers.
To feel at home in a company as a female driver, the whole package has to be right. That includes not just the truck provided, but also acceptance from male colleagues.
Host: Dr. Sigrun Weise from MAN led the workshop.
With conviction, wit and charm: driver Angelina Doll reports on her everyday life.
An atmosphere of trust: Driver Stephanie Bosch (right) during the discussion. MAN colour & trim designer Carolin Schütt (half hidden) and MAN interior and UI designer Lena Kliewer-Seehon (centre) listen attentively.
Analysis: Dr. Sigrun Weise evaluating the biographies of women drivers and the advantages and disadvantages of the profession.
Successful in a male domain: Corinna Eberle (centre) drives fire engines.
The wishes and ideas of the women who spend many hours in their cabs every day are clearly and precisely formulated. Many of them are the same as those of male drivers, but women have other expectations based on their anatomy regarding the ergonomics of the seats or how they want to store hygiene products. The toilet situation is more of a problem for them too, because most truck stop areas are anything but inviting at night – and none of those present enjoy walking from the truck to the service building alone in the dark.
MAN’s designers and developers listen closely, noting comments on haptics, materials, day to day life in the cab and a lack of shelves, cup holders or plug sockets. “We take it all on board, even if obstacles such as the high cost of a truck driving license, long and unpaid waiting times or a lack of medical provision when on the road cannot be resolved by a company such as MAN,” says Sigrun Weise. However, all the information is important because too little is still known about the overall situation for female drivers.
The seven women want greater acceptance within the industry, as well as from society. “We women aren’t ‘trucker babes’ like you see on the television,” says Christina Scheib. Everyone agrees with that statement. The discussion is important to them, so this will not be the last meeting. There is still much to discover with regard to female truck drivers so that trucks can be modified to ensure that at least the main tool for the job makes the career more attractive to women.