by Pride Transport | Mar 03, 2020
This is Rachel Snow. She’s a woman, She’s a Truck Driver and She’s an Inspiration
Often, when people think of professional trucking they think, this is a man’s world. But, is it? Is it really?
Yes, for a long time the image of the truck driver, especially in the ’70s, was a macho, lone wolf living by his own rules. He was seen traveling across this great land of ours, delivering his cargo and then going home to his favorite girl or patient wife who dutifully waited for his return.
That image is as outdated as it is ridiculous. Women have made huge strides into what has been traditionally known as “men’s jobs” and they continue to grow out of their old stereotypes and break male imposed boundaries. From medicine to engineering, the military to the Senate, women are proving their vast worth, intelligence, and ability in all areas of the workplace, all the time.
This is also true in trucking. Although it seems the presence of women in the trucking industry may be low, only 6.2% of drivers are women, their numbers are growing and more companies are becoming allies for women drivers.
So, what’s it like to be a woman in the trucking business?
Well, we decided to go right to the source, to an actual woman driver, and see what she had to say. This is Rachel Snow, she’s a driver, she’s a woman and she’s proud of both. Here, in her own words, are the answers to some questions we asked about being a woman in the trucking industry.
How long have you been driving?
22 years as of March 2020
What brought you to become a truck driver?
I was a mechanic and no one would give me the chance to prove it. I worked with my dad as I grew up, and when I was 18 I went to college to get a degree in auto mechanics. I knew I could have a job with the shops in town where I grew up, where they knew my dad and I - but that place was a dead-end place, and I thought if I had a degree someone in a larger town would give me a shot. I was wrong. Even though I graduated with honors, top of my class and with a letter of recommendation from the instructor, no shop manager would give me a chance. I had a relative who was a driver, and after a conversation about how much you can make as a truck driver, I decided I had better give it a try. The plan was to drive for two or three years, then go back to school for a specialty in mechanics.
Have you always driven for Pride?
No, I worked for Dick Simon Trucking, then RoCor Transport before coming to work for Pride. My experience with those companies gave me a lasting appreciation for the kind of company Pride was and still is.
Do you have a family?
Yes, no children, but siblings and they have children, and some of them have children.
How do they feel about you being a truck driver?
My dad was so proud of me he could hardly contain it. The first time I came through town in my 18 wheeler, he made all his buddies meet us at the truck stop for coffee. The rest of my family have always been positive about what I do as well.
What is the hardest part of being a driver?
On which front? Not enough time with family, balancing finances, health, exercise and or being sick on the road, self-improvement, and image, building and practicing professionalism, dealing with regulation and the hazards of weather? I don’t think one answer is good enough because, at one time or another, each raises to be the hardest thing you are dealing with.
Do you feel any resentment or push back from male drivers?
When I was new, yes, I did. As I grew in my knowledge and skill, as I was able to show competence and project my confidence in myself, I saw more respect from the other drivers. Male drivers tended to accept me faster than female drivers, but once they saw I was just doing the job, not trying to impress anyone, they usually came around to. LOL, I think I am well-liked at this point in my career.
How do you deal with feelings of being unsafe when you’re driving or parking for the night?
I took a self-defense class when I started, then I followed the recommendations of the instructor. I very rarely ever felt unsafe or threatened, and when I did I would mentally review the situation and see if I could apply something I know would help. I used to drive at night mostly because no one could see me, I would fuel and take care of whatever I had to at the truck stop, then leave, go down the road to the next place to park and go to bed where no one had seen me. I was never bothered when I did that and I do not get frightened any more, I haven’t for many years.
Do you feel that male drivers are supportive and welcoming?
Yes. In my experience in the last 10 years, I have seen many male drivers becoming trainers, coaches, and mentors to new drivers. Most drivers I know will not hesitate to help a new driver even if they are not an official trainer - there are a lot of really nice people out there.
What do you feel needs to change to get more women interested in being drivers?
More advertisement of the success women can have in this industry. More information about the physical expectations of drivers to dispel the fear that slight stature will interfere with a woman being able to become a spectacular success as a driver, and more advertisement of the fact that being a driver DOES NOT make you unhealthy or fat! There are so many ways to manage your health on the road, and although there are times it is hard, that is true for every walk of life.
Would you recommend being a driver to women you know?
Yes and no. A person must have a solid amount of self-confidence to make it from Trainee to Driver. I have seen enough of those who made it and those who washed out to know that a person can not use becoming a truck driver to GIVE them confidence. If you are a woman who keeps emotion in check until the event is over, you are more likely to make it. I personally keep calm through stuff that is just crazy, then, once it is all over, I get the shakes and cry or laugh uncontrollably for a few minutes. The important part is the ability to hold it together in the moment you need too.
What makes being a driver such a good job?
I love the challenge of pulling together all the pieces and making it happen. You are given a load assignment, a pickup, and delivery - you have to figure out how to make it happen in spite of the obstacles that may be present. You need to make the pickup and delivery at the times the customer wants, you may have to get the trailer washed out before you can go for the load, you have to follow the route your company gives you and try to make the full locations work, you have to eat, sleep, shower, do laundry, keep your truck clean, and get it all done while obeying the federal hours of service regulations…. and then throw in the weather! Each time I deliver successfully, it is an accomplishment. sometimes small, sometimes huge, but always a personal win.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a female who wants to be a driver?
One thing? Only one thing when I have so many things to advise? Okay then… If you believe you are made of the right stuff, go for it. Do it and don’t let anyone tell you it's not a job for real women, or that doing it will make you less of a woman. It's a job. YOU are the woman. and when you do the job, you make it a woman's job.
I want women who are thinking about coming into this industry to know that they won't lose their femininity to this job, that women generally make really good drivers because the same kind of multi-tasking abilities we use at home to keep our families going translates well into pulling together all the things a professional driver needs to in order to face and beat all the challenges I mentioned earlier. And when it comes time to break out the satin, lace and heels, you will shine just as bright as ever.
There’s a lot here. And it’s not just for truck drivers and it’s not just for women but, it sure does land with both those categories.
Rachel inspires us to be true to ourselves and to meet challenges with courage and intelligence. She challenges us to keep trying new doors, new ways to get what your heart truly wants and that’s good advice for everyone.
Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time to share your experience and knowledge about driving and life. Pride is lucky to have a driver like you working with us.