Since the age of 27, local driver Kathleen hasn’t let stereotypes hold her back from successfully reaching two million safe miles in a male-dominated industry. “I never felt like it was a man’s job. It’s just an oversized vehicle for anyone to drive.”
“Sometimes they ask, ‘You drive a truck?’ and I think, really, you gonna ask me that… They say I look like a school teacher or nurse. Those are two professions that I would never do. Maybe it’s the glasses. You never know,” she explained.
Kathleen’s interest in becoming a truck driver began with a boost from her father. “My father worked for a trucking company. When I was 10, he put me up in the cab and I could see everything. It just stuck with me,” she said.
She attended truck driving school in her early twenties and received her CDL A, but quickly discovered that carriers were hesitant to sign on newbies. “No one wanted to hire me. I didn’t have experience. I decided to buy my own truck,” she said.
After seven months of being an owner operator, she sold her truck and became a company driver with various carriers for the next ten years. Eager for a change, she began a local truck driving job with J.B. Hunt and twenty years later, she remains on the same account. “I like the dedicated account. I’m not interested in running the road. I know where I’m going every day. We have 40 stores. I know where they are. I may help another account and do something different, but I still get back home every day,” she said.
Throughout her twenty years with the company as a female driver, Kathleen believes she’s been treated the same as the male drivers. “I know I’ve never been treated differently at J.B. Hunt,” she said. “My pay was always equaling the guys’ pay.”
Kathleen’s hard work and dedication to safety drove her to recently reach a career milestone – two million safe miles. “it feels good to reach two million miles,” she said. “The last 10,000 miles were extremely nerve wracking. I was counting down. Any little thing could go wrong and I was so close.”
Reaching two million safe miles filled Kathleen’s pockets with a $10,000 bonus and an opportunity to attend the Million Mile Celebration at J.B. Hunt’s corporate office in Lowell, Ark. in the Spring. “I’m excited to go the Million Mile Celebration and see the headquarters. I’ve never been to corporate and I’ve never flown. That will be another first for me!” she said.
The two million miler offers advice for women considering truck driving as their next career move. “It’s got to be something you really want to do if you’re going to do it. It’s a way of life,” she said.
Press play to hear from other J.B. Hunt women drivers and how they overcome stereotypes they experience on the road.
Interested in driving or contracting with a carrier that supports women in trucking? Call 1-877-791-9458 to learn about J.B. Hunt’s over the road, regional and local truck driving jobs or contract opportunities, or fill out a short form online.