Being a Female Trucker Pt. 1

Originally published in the Layover.com newsletter.

I’ve been asked by so many people, “What’s it like to be a female trucker?” My answer is usually always the same–I love it. To me it’s just a fun way to make a living. I make great money, meet interesting people, I get to see fantastic places, and the thing I like most is that I’m my own boss inside the cab of my truck. There were, and still are, however, some drawbacks to being a woman in trucking.

When I started out in the trucking industry I was hauling sand in a dry bulk trailer for the fracking companies in the oil fields of West Texas. At that time, I did not own my own truck, but when I was working I felt as if the truck WAS mine. It was my home away from home, and I tried hard to keep it neat and clean and as comfortable as possible. Hauling sand was a terrific way to start out learning to truck because most of the people I came in contact with were very helpful. We ran a lot of the time in packs, 80 percent of the time I was with someone either going to a job, or working with others on the job site. There were a few exceptions to that standard rule, and I have several stories about those times. But generally speaking, I always had someone there to answer my questions, direct me, and sometimes even help me complete my job assignments. I expected to have difficulties with the men in the trucking industry, because it’s such a male-dominated field. That just wasn’t the case for me. When I proved that I could do my job on my own, and that I just wasn’t interested in fraternization, I hardly ever had problems with my male counterparts. It was the women, especially the truckers that I worked directly with, who seemed to make things unnecessarily difficult for me.

Most of the women working for the company attended to the office management of things, but there were a few that were truckers just like me. I was trained by an experienced woman trucker. As time progressed, I fared better with the men in the trucking world than I did with some of the women. The men, whether they were coworkers or on a location, seemed more inclined to help with questions or problems than the women. That was probably the most disheartening part of trucking for me. I wanted to make friends with my fellow female truckers. It turned out that with the exception of one very close female friend, most of my work friends were men. I later came to understand that I was unknowingly crossing invisible turf lines. I had no idea that I was infringing on others’ “territories” until I experienced some vindictive behavior from female co-workers. It’s disappointing that some women feel threatened when other females step into their zones. As a long-time working woman, I understand that in any career you can encounter personality conflicts and harassment. I just did my best to ignore what I could, and handle the rest professionally.

Read more by Robyn Mitchell!