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Women in Trucking: Success Tips from the Women of ATS

April 3rd, 2024



According to data from the Women in Trucking Index, women make up just 12.1 percent of the trucking industry. While that’s leaps and bounds higher than it was just a decade ago, women still have a long way to go in taking their rightful place in the industry alongside their male counterparts.

Being a woman in the trucking industry can feel intimidating. You might feel like you’re constantly being underestimated. More than a few times, you’re probably mistaken as the girlfriend or wife of the guy in the truck — when you’re actually the one behind the steering wheel. 

You may be outnumbered in the trucking industry but you certainly aren’t alone.

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’re proud of the women in our fleet and work to make sure they feel just as welcomed and supported as every other driver we work with.

We talked to a few drivers to learn more about their experience at ATS and the trucking industry as a whole. They gave us a ton of tips to help you navigate the industry, whether you’re thinking about becoming a truck driver or you’ve just gone through trucking school and you’re looking to find your feet (and your fleet). 

Meet Nancy, 25+ Years of Driving Experience

Nancy has been driving for more than two decades. 

She’s currently part of a flatbed specialized team with her husband, Steve. Together they’ve been with ATS for over 25 years. (Steve started driving with ATS three years before Nancy and will celebrate 29 years with ATS in 2024.) It’s the company she started driving with and the company she plans to retire with. 

For 16 years they were company drivers but they’ve transitioned to owner-operators since. 

Together, Nancy and Steve have hauled some incredible loads for ATS — taking them as far as Germany.

Married team of truck drivers in front of their truck.

Meet Tyisha, 6 Years of Driving Experience

Tyisha started driving with ATS two years ago. She started driving trucks six years ago because she used to live on a military base and saw the transport of weaponry, tanks, and other military equipment. It always fascinated her, so she made it her goal to one day move military loads like that too. 

Before trucking, she was a nurse. She found out she didn’t like being confined to four walls and wanted to travel the world — not by air or ship, but by truck. Trucking gives her this access to the world. 

Tyisha and her husband got into trucking together. They went to trucking school together and started at the same company. When she became bored of hauling the same type of freight, she switched to ATS for the freight variety the specialized division offers. 

About a year ago, her husband joined ATS and they formed a team to haul military freight.

Meet Carma, 4 Years of Driving Experience

Carma had the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat of a truck for a year to learn the ins and outs of the industry before heading to trucking school herself. 

Once she got her start in trucking, she spent time training other women to be successful on the road. She started in the specialized division at ATS in 2022, where she’s been working her way up the ranks to haul larger and larger freight.

Carma recently switched from being a company driver to a lease driver and loves the change of pace and success she’s finding. 

Meet Amber, 7 Years of Driving Experience

Amber has been driving for seven years and has spent one of those years at ATS as a flatbed driver. Before coming to ATS, she was a dry van driver but soon wanted more of a physical challenge. ATS was her gateway to hauling flatbed freight.

She got her start in trucking because she likes to travel and because of the earning potential. She went to driving school at the same time as her brother, and they’ve both been able to positively influence each other as they continue their trucking careers. 

Tips for Women in Trucking 

Collectively, here’s what Nancy, Tyisha, Carma, and Amber had to say about being a woman in trucking. 

Tip #1: Stand Your Ground and Be Assertive

It’s not uncommon to walk into the truck stop and have people look at you. They might think you’re the girlfriend or the wife of a driver. They see you get into the driver’s seat of the truck and they’re shocked. You might make phone calls to shippers and they’ll think you’re the secretary, not the driver. 

As a woman in the trucking industry, you’ll be underestimated time and time again, but you don’t have to let it get you down. Keep your head high and don’t give up. You know what you’re doing and you have just as right to be doing this job as anyone else.

Try to be confident, state your opinions, and hold your ground. When you’re trying to get things taken care of on the road, you have to be assertive.

It’s especially important to make your voice heard when you’re part of a team. 

Trucking gets tough and people may criticize you and how they’re doing things. Ignore them. 

Tip #2: Use Your Resources

If you have questions, ask. Make sure you have a supportive team behind you to turn to that will have your back. That includes: 

  • Your trucking company
  • Your driver manager
  • Fellow driver mentors

Make sure you’re also communicating effectively with your company and driver manager. Be realistic about any problems you may be having on the road; if you don’t, you can end up unhappy and then repeatedly switch carriers for the rest of your career.

It’s also a good idea to utilize your state’s trucking association and a resource like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). 

When something changes in the industry, they can help you with your questions — whether it’s legal or medical questions. Many state trucking associations host conventions, too, which is a great way to meet fellow drivers. 

There’s no such thing as a stupid question. No one knows it all, so be open-minded and avoid arrogance. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re not sure how to secure a load or you’re confused about a permit, ask as many questions as you need to get clarity on the subject. You should never feel stupid for asking questions or feel like you’re a burden; you aren’t. Asking questions will only help you improve.

There’s no shame in getting out again to check your load, add another strap, or ask another question. 

Tip #3: Build Strong Relationships with Customers

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Focus on building strong relationships with your company and your customers.

It’s just as important to build strong relationships with your customers as it is with your company. At the end of the day, the goal is to deliver the load intact and make the customer happy. If you can do that, you’ll definitely be rewarded in the long run. 

Smiling female truck driver in front of her semi-truck.

Tip #4: Protect Yourself

As a woman on the road, you have to work hard to protect yourself. There are some bad people in the world. Because you’re traveling so much, chances are you’ll encounter some people who don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind. 

These tips can help you protect yourself.

Use the passenger door so people think you’re not alone. Do what you can to make it seem like you’re with someone. If someone is approaching you and you’re scared, go up to a safe male truck driver and act like you’re with them. Most truckers will help you out and go with the flow.

Keep your door locked at all times. You can even get a bar that reinforces the passenger door. If someone knocks, don’t open the door. You can get curtains so no one can see into the cab.

Stay out of the driver’s lounges at truck stops if you can. There can be all sorts of creepy people in the lounges asking too many questions. 

It’s good to treat people with kindness, but be firm and brief. Being overly friendly can send the wrong message to some people. You don’t have to be rude, but keeping your head down and the conversations short is sometimes the best way to go.

Don’t give out your personal information. If someone asks about your trucking company, you can send them your driver manager’s number instead of your own.

Park close to the truck stop and only take what you need inside. Keep your wallet in your truck. If you need to pay for something, try to keep just one card or a little cash in your pocket. If you can, carry something heavy, like a heavy keychain or water bottle, with you into the truck stop. You can also carry wasp spray, which shoots far.

Tip #5: Take Care of Your Mind and Body

A lot goes into this tip. You need to take care of your mind and body so you can do your job more effectively. 

Try to pace yourself. It’s easy to feel rushed and overwhelmed and get carried away with the tough parts of the job. It’s easy to get tired and run down on the road. 

Sometimes you need to take a step back, drink some water, grab a bite to eat, and take care of yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you and what it needs. Taking this time for yourself during a difficult moment can help you get a new perspective and de-stress. The load can wait. 

When you’re not driving, make self-care a priority. It can be hard to take care of yourself on the road. You’re eating and sleeping at weird times, you live in your truck, you’re missing your loved ones back home, and so much more. 

It’s crucial to prioritize yourself, though. Eat good meals by cooking in your truck and avoiding truck stop meals as much as possible. Go for walks to decompress or find another way to exercise by bringing weights, a yoga mat, a bike, or other equipment. 

If you can, work out in a public gym or park, or lift weights between trailers so you don’t have viewers. You could even grab a rideshare to a local mall to walk laps. 

Stretching and meditation are also important. Doing so will help your sore, stiff muscles and relax your mind and body before it’s time to wind down for sleep. Make your sleeper nice and comfy so you can get proper rest each night. If you don’t feel right in your body, you can’t think right and react right.

If you’re driving alone, and especially during the winter, it’s easy to experience some form of depression. Make it a point to stay in touch with your family. Schedule time in.

A lot of times there’s that person at home who can help to destress you and make you feel cared for and supported. Reach out to them; don’t let your frustration on the road fester.

If you have other hobbies that help you unwind, bring them on the road with you if you can. Bring a book with you, take the time to explore the sites around you, find a local pickleball court, or reach out to drivers in the area for a cup of coffee. 

Trucking is certainly a tough job, but there’s plenty of enjoyment to get out of it too. It’s just as rewarding as it is challenging.

Man and woman truck drivers on a bike in front of their semi-truck.

Tip #6: Find a Shop You Can Rely On

Build a strong relationship with a good shop. When you’re behind the wheel in the driver’s seat, you want the truck to be in good condition. You want to be able to press on the brakes and have them work. 

Don’t go to a random shop in the middle of nowhere just because they have a good discount on tires. The cheapest places aren’t always going to be the best places. 

Find a good, reputable shop (or several across the country) that will get you in in a timely fashion, explain repairs to you, and do it right every time. You can search Google reviews or talk to fellow drivers for recommendations on good shops across the country. 

Tip #7: Be Nice to Other Women 

With the rise of technology and everyone so connected to their devices, we all have to make more of an effort nowadays in person. Be nice to the other women you see on the road. 

Support each other out there. We’re all going through the same things and need that strength and support from one another.

Take Your Place in the Driver’s Seat

The trucking industry has seen an increase in the representation of women over the years, but there's still progress to be made. At ATS, women drivers are celebrated and supported, with experienced drivers like Nancy, Tyisha, Carma, and Amber offering invaluable advice for women in the industry.

The road may be challenging, but with determination and support, women can thrive in the trucking industry. Don’t ever give up.

This is your world. It’s already yours for the taking, so take it.

If you’re still considering pursuing a career in trucking, check out these companies that’ll train you.