- Demand for truckers jumped when the pandemic boosted consumer demand and supply chains struggled.
- More women are entering the industry, especially from hospitality and service jobs, an expert said.
- Insider spoke with three women who started businesses in trucking.
Clarissa Rankin calls herself a superhero on wheels.
Throughout the pandemic she’s hauled paper towels, diapers, tampons, makeup, tires, and canned goods in her 53-foot trailer, providing a service essential to many American households. And she does it with long acrylic nails, a bedazzled headset, and a luminous attitude.
“I love the fact that I’m providing something that you can’t haul in your car,” she told Insider. “Everybody can’t wear this cape.”
While the median annual pay for truck drivers in 2020 was $47,130, the heightened demand for drivers exacerbated by COVID-19-related supply-chain issues means more drivers are leaving big companies to take control of their earnings by owning trucks, managing fleets, and recruiting drivers.
Rankin is one of those entrepreneurs: an independent truck driver and influencer who runs her job as a business. Through her social-media accounts she aims to inspire more women to get into a $265 billion industry that employs about 1.5 million Americans.
Ellen Voie, the president and founder of the Women In Trucking Association, said more women have entered the trucking industry since the pandemic started, especially from hospitality or service-related jobs like nursing.
“The types of jobs that were reduced or even eliminated because of the pandemic were disproportionately held by women,” she said. “Women saw that the trucking industry didn’t shut down.”
Exact numbers are difficult to gather, since many companies don’t track gender data. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that in 2021 women made up 7.9% of drivers, including local delivery drivers.
Voie said one of the most appealing factors for women is that there is no gender pay disparity since drivers are compensated by the mile or load.
“Secondly, our jobs don’t go away,” she said. “You can’t outsource trucking, so they know it’s stable.”
Insider spoke with three women who started businesses in the trucking industry to pursue more fulfilling work, flexible hours, and higher incomes.