Sharae Moore dove into the male-dominated trucking industry five years ago. Although she admittedly didn’t know much about commercial trucking at the time, she could tell that this profession would allow her to travel the United States as she had always wanted to. Once her career began to take off, she had an important realization: she didn’t know even one other female truck driver.
There are about 5.9 million commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Recent statistics show that women make up no more than 8% of those millions of drivers. While this is up from 4% in 2010, the gendered difference in trucking is stark.
With such small numbers of female representation, Moore began to feel alone in the sea of men.
“When I first started this industry, there wasn’t any support. The industry was just so closed off — I didn’t know where people who looked like me were,” Moore said.
To find those people, Moore developed a powerful online community with the goal of making other women in the trucking industry feel empowered, safe and supported. She launched a Facebook group in 2017 called Sisterhood Helping Empowerment in Trucking, or S.H.E. Trucking. Today the group has nearly 3,000 members.
These members reportedly come from over 27 countries around the world. This global connection is important, as industries across the world face similar gaping gender statistics in trucking to that of the United States. For instance, Canada’s trucking industry only has about 260,000 drivers total, but women still account for just 3% of that relatively small number. Other countries in the group include a number of Spanish-speaking nations, including Mexico and Argentina, but handy online translation tools still allow the platform’s members to share their knowledge with one another.
Most importantly, the platform gives Moore a chance to offer the support she so acutely longed for when she was starting out. Experienced female truck drivers can let the newer members of the community know exactly what to expect in this industry. This one-of-a-kind mentorship program gives women the tools they need to succeed in their professional journeys as truckers.
Whether women drivers are hauling loads of lumber, which makes up over 40% of building materials, or transporting large pieces of manufacturing equipment, there’s no doubt that their positions in the industry are lucrative opportunities. These positions are especially attractive for women without college degrees or the current funds to obtain one. Most truck driving schools are free and some companies even pay for an applicant’s schooling or the commercial driver’s license accreditation. For these reasons, Moore often encourages women interested in the industry to at least try it on for size.
In the past, people both inside and outside of the industry never considered women as candidates for truck driving positions because they would have to balance motherhood with the demands of a trucker’s schedule. Despite these widely-held beliefs, many female truck drivers have children and are able to be there for their families while supporting them financially. And now, experienced female truck drivers can help make U.S. roadways safer, as they’re the site of at least 4,000 pedestrian deaths annually.
Local truck driving positions often give women who are the primary caretakers of their household the opportunity to drive and still be home every day. Trucking also provides flexibility for any woman relocating towns and joining the 35.5 million Americans who move every year, as there are always trucking jobs no matter where you are in the country.
The need to fill these jobs has only become increasingly dire over the years. The United States is currently experiencing a major truck driver shortage. According to the American Trucking Association, there will be a shortage of 175,000 drivers in the next five years. Moore says that as a lot of men who have been in the industry for decades retire, trucking companies are starting to turn to women to fill those gaps.
To cater to those incoming female drivers and those currently in their trucks, Moore has created the first clothing brand for women truck drivers. Dubbed S.H.E Trucking Apparel, Moore created this line of clothing to fill the void left by the lack of t-shirts for women at truck stops. She hopes that her shirts can simultaneously help connect female drivers and give them a reminder that they can still be feminine while operating an 18-wheeler.
“You can look beautiful driving a truck. If you want to wear makeup, put your makeup on! We promote that because we don’t want women to lose themselves. This is still your job and your career, but you’re still a woman at the end of the day. So that’s the biggest thing — I want people to take care of themselves in this industry, as well,” Moore said.