How the Internet of Things Levels the Playing Field Between Men and Women in the Logistics Industry

Posted on: Jan 31, 2018, in Blog
Woman using a barcode reader in a distribution warehouse


Technology has become a great equaliser, and it is bound to be an even greater equaliser now that the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to permeate all sorts of industries around the world. The IoT is already being extensively used in the logistics industry, and it is beginning to level the playing field between men and women.

So, how exactly is the IoT blurring gender divides in the logistics industry? John Hack, VP of user experience and design at technology consulting company SAP, believes that the IoT will create new jobs and tasks. In “How the Internet of Things Is Changing Work,” Hack cited how IoT logistics can help solve logistical challenges. The example he gives is the sending of aid to remote villages in Mexico that had been ravaged by a storm, before pointing out that the “levels of economic activity in an IoT world will necessitate the creation of new jobs, new tasks, and new skills.”

The IoT, for instance, can yield a ton of information, which can only be useful once it is classified and analysed correctly. Hence, there is now a need in the industry for tech-savvy individuals of any gender who can collate and analyse data collected from IoT components such as RFID, GPS, and temperature sensors. Careful analysis of the data provided by these components, in turn, will enhance operational efficiency, facilitate better and faster decision-making, and automate certain business processes.

There is a need for people who have the requisite technical knowledge to evaluate and use the information provided by the IoT. This task, which can be accomplished by either gender, seems rather mundane, but it is actually critical. Data, no matter how useful, is useless if not correctly analysed by a qualified person.


Then there is the matter of automation, which is a direct offshoot of the IoT. With it, tasks that were once dominated by males will be more evenly distributed. For example, warehouse jobs that were previously preferred by men due to the physical demands of the job will become redundant. In the future, sensor-assisted forklifts that can be operated through a device will make the stipulation for physical strength unnecessary. This will therefore open the posting up to those who may have not been considered for the job before.

The IoT is even blurring the gender divide in trucking operations, where safety and security are of utmost importance. Such operations have traditionally been dominated by males, largely due to the mistaken notion that they can drive longer hours. Overdriving is finally being recognised as highly hazardous for road safety, and new measures have been brought in to track the number of hours drivers spend on the road. Here in South Africa fleet operators are using devices like DriveSmart DriveCam and Mobile Eye to track both the hours on the road, and measure driving patterns and awareness levels. Currently these measures are done as part of self-regulation within the industry and are not part of South African law. In the U.S., a mandate is currently being enforced by the government to ensure all commercial vehicles are fitted with an Electronic Logging Device (ELD). Fleetmatics state that the ruling by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has replaced paper logs which in turn has made it harder for drivers to circumvent the legal hours allowed on the road. With a greater enforcement of driving hours across the logistics industry, there is no longer any room for prejudiced hiring based on pre-conceived notions.

Technology, clearly, is improving the logistics industry, and part of this improvement is the expanded role being given to women.

Exclusively written for NOSA Logistics
by JenB@Work | Jennifer Birch

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