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Pa. female truck drivers face challenges in a male-dominated industry

According to the nonprofit Women in Trucking, from 2018 to 2019, the number of female truck drivers increased nearly 8%.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The need for truck drivers is surging as the supply chain continues to wreak havoc.

One group to the rescue is women.

"It keeps us busy, there's not a while lot of down time," said Esther Parsons, truck driver from Lancaster.

Four years ago, Parsons, a mother of two, quit her job working in a office setting to drive big rigs.

"This is the best decision I could have made for myself and my family," said Parsons.

One reason for the career change is because there's no gender disparity in pay.

"Because you're paid by the mile, by the load, by the hour...so you could make a pretty decent living after not a lot of training," said Ellen Voie, the CEO of Women in Training, a non-profit that is dedicated to encouraging women in the trucking industry.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by Women in Trucking,  women make up more than 10 percent of Over-The-Road truck drivers, an 7.8 percent increase from 2018.

This comes with challenges as Parsons said on the job, there have been multiple incidents where she has been harassed, stalked and had to call the police on suspicious people.

"As a woman you have to be smart, you have to aware of your surroundings, just like whenever we go out at night, she said.

However, experts said this isn't the only uphill battle female truckers face.

"The biggest challenge we face is that women don't picture themselves in the industry," said Voie.

To recruit, Women in Trucking have hosted seminars and created mentorship programs.

For women interested in driving, Parsons has some advice.

"Putting yourself out there initially is scary but getting connected with a group that is going to support you is the best avenue you can take," Parsons added.

As trucks become easier to drive, Voie predicts more women will join the field in the future.

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