Lauding women for their accomplishments and contributions is something that should occur on a year-round basis. However, it’s especially important to recognize those women who empower their communities — like Sharae Moore, the founder of S.H.E. Trucking.
Unafraid to defy societal norms, Moore entered the male-dominated trucking industry five years ago. After working as a certified nursing assistant for eight years, truck driving first caught Moore’s attention when she came across a newspaper article that offered free training for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). She admitted that at the time, she knew very little about commercial truck driving. However, the Chattanooga, TN, native was determined to learn, as she believed this profession would enable her desire to travel the United States. Once her professional truck driving career really kicked off, Moore realized she didn’t know any other female truck drivers.
“When I first started this industry, there wasn’t any support,” Moore said. “The industry was just so closed off — I didn’t know where people who looked like me were.”
Therefore, she decided to make a change. Now with years of driving experience under her belt, the 35-year-old recognized the need for an outlet that connected female truckers to each other. She began developing a powerful online community to help other women in this profession feel empowered, safe and supported. In 2017, Moore launched a Facebook group called Sisterhood Helping Empowerment in Trucking — or S.H.E. Trucking — which was designed to serve as a platform for female truckers to share their knowledge.
“It was created to blend all women in the transportation industry together by inspiring them, empowering them and educating them about the industry and how to get started,” Moore told Blavity.
YouTube | S.H.E. TRUCKING
Through this initiative, Moore is able to extend the support she once yearned for when she was first starting out. The Facebook group provides a unique take on this line of work from seasoned women truckers who know what to expect with the transportation industry. Its unique mentorship program provides guidance to help women succeed as truckers, preparing members with the necessary tools to help them navigate their own professional journeys.
“We have curated a safe haven for women to ask questions and feel comfortable in a group community through Facebook,” she said.S.H.E. Trucking currently has almost 3,000 members. Although women in the community come from very different backgrounds and experiences, they are able to use S.H.E. Trucking and Facebook’s tools to communicate and connect. The group reportedly serves members from 27 countries across the world, including Tanzania, Argentina, Canada and Mexico.
“We have a very diverse group and through the translation tool, we’re able to connect and communicate with them. Sometimes it’s via Spanish, but we can translate it and actually connect with them and talk. We get to know their experiences and how it is to be in a third-world country as a woman truck driver,” Moore said. “I get a lot of emails where maybe the opportunity to drive is not even legal yet, so it gives them hope — like, ‘Maybe I could do this one day,’” she added.
The trucking industry can be a lucrative opportunity with the potential for growth, especially for those who don’t have a college degree. Moore encourages women interested in truck driving to at least try it, since most of the schools are free. There are even some companies that will pay for schooling or for the CDL accreditation, allowing one to make a life-changing career move within a matter of weeks.
Moore shared that many mothers have reached out to her with inquiries about the industry, particularly as it pertains to concerns over being able to balance motherhood with the demands of a trucking work schedule. Contrary to popular belief, many female truck drivers actually have children, and they’re able to support their families and manage the home front while still driving. There are actually local truck driving positions available that allow women to be home every day to be with their kids.
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According to Moore, the need for women truck drivers is very important, because of the lack of diversity within the industry. Additionally, since the U.S. is currently experiencing a truck-driver shortage, she sees this as an opportunity for women to fill the employment void.
“A lot of men are retiring,” she said. “A lot of people have been in this industry for a long time, and so now they’re getting out of it. To fill that gap, you kind of have to fill it out with women drivers.”
Research from the the nonprofit organization Women In Trucking found that women drivers make up no more than roughly eight percent of the commercial truck driving industry. To cater to those 200,000 women and their needs, Moore has created the first clothing brand for women truck drivers called S.H.E. Trucking Apparel. It is her hope that the T-shirts help variegate the limited fashion choices women truck drivers currently have.
“When I first started driving, I wanted to find a T-shirt that represented myself as being a woman driver. I searched all throughout the United States, and [...] the only thing they have are trucker wives shirts and male trucker shirts,” Moore explained. “Other than that, we don’t have anything that says, ‘We are women truck drivers.’”
According to Moore, there still aren’t any shirts at truck stops for women to this day, which she believes is indicative of the lack of appropriate representation within the industry itself.
“It’s time for us to have a shirt,” she said. “So I started making and creating my own T-shirt just to be recognized in this industry as a woman driver.”
Instead of complaining about this issue, Moore created solutions to better the lives of her fellow female drivers and pushed back against the stereotypical image of women in this profession.
“We show that you don’t have to lose yourself [in this industry]. You can keep getting your nails done. 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,” Moore said. “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."
After launching online retailer S.H.E. Trucking Apparel, women drivers are now starting to receive more recognition while out on the road.
Although women truck drivers still have a long way to go, they’re definitely not where they are used to be. Since the group’s inception, Moore has helped mentor formerly homeless women, helping them establish security and stability via a thriving driving career.
“You get to see all that, and it feels great to make a positive impact on the industry,” she said.
Moore even admitted to leaning on her trucking sisters when she was recently stranded in Denver. Without any resources to get her back home, she reached out to members in the S.H.E. Trucking Facebook group. Together they were able to raise enough money to get her home the next day. Their generosity in Moore’s time of need shows the extent of how powerful their bond is and the sisterhood the women in this online community share.
S.H.E. Trucking group members not only support to each other online, they also give back to the surrounding community through their Touch a Truck initiative.
“We go into the community and bring our trucks out to schools and different organizations where the kids can check out the trucks,” Moore explained. “We encourage them to join the industry, as well.”
Students can also receive school supply donations during Touch a Truck events. Moore emphasizes the importance of youth being exposed to women in this male-dominated profession, as increased awareness can lead to future professional opportunities for young girls while simultaneously diversifying the industry as a whole.
“When I was growing up, I never saw a woman driver at all,” Moore said. “But [Touch a Truck] gives [kids] the opportunity to be able to see the inside of a truck and not be afraid of it. I think a lot of people are afraid of trucks, so it just gives the community an opportunity to be hands-on with the trucking industry.”
It's clear that between the Facebook group, apparel line and charity work, Moore is transforming what it means to be a female trucker not only in America, but across the world. In February, S.H.E. Trucking was recognized at the Facebook Communities Summit for its strategic use of Facebook's new mentorship tool, an add-on feature for Facebook groups. Members of S.H.E. Trucking's positive impact on the community — both online and in the real world — exemplifies what women empowerment is all about.