Women in Trucking - A Woman's Perspective

Trucking attracts many women from many walks of life. Some are older, some are married, some are divorced, some never have married, some are mothers with grown children, and some are married or divorced with young children still at home. Those women who choose to become truck drivers, those who do not have children, find entering the profession easy and low stress. The women who are married or divorced with children find entering the truck driving profession harder and find themselves with some radical adaptations to make.

Recently in my work with new and prospective drivers, a young, divorced women with a five-year-old daughter approached me for information about the trucking industry. She had worked at a mill near her home but, with the outsourcing of mill work overseas, found herself out of work with no well-paying jobs nearby. She was not alone in that almost all the mills in her state had closed and thousands were without work.

This lady sat down and looked at her options carefully. She could go to college for two to four years, go to trucking school (as that was the quickest way to get back to work), drive 50 miles per day for a minimum wage job, or go on welfare. Because her father had been a driver, she chose trucking as her best option. The thought of leaving her daughter for long periods of time made her sick, but her daughter, who, in addition to being involved in gymnastics and dance classes, would need college money. Without a substantial income, the lady wouldn't be able to provide any of these things.

She thought out a plan. The mill where the lady had worked had been bought by someone else who had a little work for a limited amount of time, but at lower wages than she was making before. The school the lady had found near her home was a community college where the tuition was less than $1000 and offered night and weekend classes. There were local driving jobs available after she gained one year's experience. She decided to work at the mill at minimum wage until she saved enough money for the tuition. After school she would work for a training company for one year, then get a local job where she would be home every night and on weekends. Her mother had been given early retirement from the mill where she had worked and would take care of the lady's little girl.

For married women who enter the trucking industry, childcare may not be such a problem because the husband can care for the children. The major problems involve working with her husband to adjust his working hours, if he works, so that his schedule puts him working while the kids are in school as well as perhaps finding additional child care for when both parents are working.

Some lady drivers with children choose to take their kids with them on the road and "home" school them. This is a viable option if she has only one or two children and if she can find a company to allow it. Personally, I feel that having children on the truck full time for years is not good for the children. My suggestion would be that this be used as a short-term solution rather than a permanent arrangement. In making the decision to become a "trucker with children," the first thing you have to consider is who is going to care for the children. If you have a grandparent, mother, father, or other family member that is capable of taking care of them, this is the best course to take. A good friend might also be a good choice, but this person must be totally reliable. If you do not have someone that you can trust completely, then scrap the idea of becoming a driver. The safety of your children should come first.

There are many people that fault women with children for taking a traveling job like trucking to make a living. In this day and time though, with the unavailability of good jobs at convenient distances, trucking offers a way for a woman to get a good-paying job with benefits. Yes, she may be away from home for the first year more than what is really good for her children, but if after a year she uses that experience to take a local job, that time becomes just a stepping stone to future years of a better life for her and her children.

Ya'll be safe!