Why Did You Do It?

Do you ever see another woman driver going by and wonder why she chose to become a trucker? I do, especially if it is someone young. With their whole world ahead of them, why would a young woman become a trucker instead of going to college and getting a big salaried job in an office somewhere or getting married and having a family while she can?

I started driving over the road at a fairly young age; I was 29 when I started my common carrier OTR career. For me, it was a natural progression from my years in carnivals where I moved rides and equipment from spot to spot. By choice, I didn't want to have kids so, for me, it was a simple decision. I could make more money driving truck than at any other job I was qualified to do at the time. Looking back now I can say that, if the circumstances were the same, I would probably make the same choice.

Money is the most common reason for a woman to begin a trucking career. Due to the level playing field for women and the "equal pay for equal work" concept found in the trucking industry, many women choose trucking after their kids are grown or after a divorce. Also, after the kids are grown, a woman who is married to a trucker may decide to get her CDL and team drive with her husband, thereby making more money while spending time together.

There are few other jobs where a woman can make the money found in trucking unless they have college degrees, and many older women do not.

Some older women do come from white collar positions into trucking, though. One lady driver I know started at the bottom and worked her way up the corporate ladder to the executive level. One day she decided that she had had enough and was done with skirts and suits and office politics. She put herself through school and found a company to hire her. She is quite happy now, living in jeans and shirts, and she proudly drives her truck safely and productively.

One woman worked it the other way. She started driving truck when she got out of the military and saved enough money to buy her own truck. Once she did that, she worked her schedule, took college courses, and eventually left the driving part of the industry to become a safety director after working her way up the corporate ladder.

Many women enter trucking because a family member was a trucker. Some were encouraged to become truckers, but most fathers, even the trucker ones, often tell their daughters to stay at home. One such daughter waited until after her father passed away to go to school and start trucking. "My dad was old-fashioned. He thought women belonged at home raising kids. After he died, my mother was the one who talked me into following my long-time dream of driving a truck, just like dad did. I wish he could see how well I am doing; perhaps he would have been proud of me," she said.

Another woman watched her father go off in his truck for years. He worked both over the road and local coal hauling during that time, and she often thought of becoming a trucker. She had a child, though, so didn't act on her dream until he was grown up. She had been in nursing for years when she just decided that it was time for her to do something exciting. 

By Sandy Long