A female truck driver has opened up about the realities of being a woman behind the wheel in a male-dominated industry.
Bianca Clark, from Sydney, has been a truckie for nearly five years, and said the move from being a small-business owner to spending her days on the road is the best decision she has ever made.
However, the 31-year-old revealed that while she loves her job, it hasn’t always been easy with Bianca stating her gender has led to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace – something she is working hard to change.
“When I first started as a truck driver, it was really difficult,” she told news.com.au.
“The company I worked for did not really look out for me as a woman. I experienced all the things people warn you about the industry.
“It was very male-dominated, and I faced many instances of sexual harassment and discrimination because of my gender.”
In Australia, men continue to dominate the industry, as only 2.9 per cent of truck drivers are women according to 2021 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Over the years, Bianca has copped a barrage of awful remarks from men, explaining it made her consider quitting multiple times.
“It wasn’t a good environment at all. I actually thought that truck driving might not be for me, despite how much I loved it,” she said.
“There were many lewd comments and gross sexual jokes about my body. At this point I feel like I’ve heard it all.
“Sadly, these issues still exist which is disappointing. But the more females we can get into the industry, the less it will be tolerated.”
While she said “things are changing” for female truckies, she acknowledged it is a slow process, detailing a shocking incident she witnessed at work.
“One of the worst times was when a man made a disgusting joke about female genitalia on the radio,” she recalled.
“Everyone heard it, I think he thought they would all laugh. But they didn’t.
The man was thankfully reported and fired, but Bianca said it was “awful” to experience, adding it was “really encouraging to see that things are changing”.
“Men have made very descriptive comments about things they’d like to do to me, jokes of a sexual nature, and comments in regards to my sexual orientation direct at my wife and I,” she explained.
“We will have a long way to go, but I’m excited to be part of this change.”
Bianca now works at a different company where she feels safe and respected at work, which she said made “all the difference”.
But her experiences prompted her to start her non-for-profit organisation, Ladylike Project, that aims to encourage and support female truck drivers.
One of their main goals is to help pay for young women’s truck driving licenses, which can cost upwards of $1500.
“I hope that this can help get a woman’s foot in the door who might want to become a truck driver,” she explained.
“If I can help even one woman achieve her goal, it can be life changing.”
One of her favourite parts of the job is the reaction she gets when people see it’s a woman behind the wheel.
“I love seeing people’s reactions when I jump out,” she said.
“They’re confused. I once had an old man approach me to ask if it was my truck, he was flabbergasted.
“People often can’t believe what they’re seeing. I love it.”
Back when she first started, Bianca used to avoid wearing make-up and doing her hair as it had landed her in “strife” – but now she proudly embraces her femininity.
“I’m a feminine woman, I like to do my hair, I enjoy putting on makeup, I tuck my shirt in,” she said.
“That’s just the way I like to carry myself, and it is how I’d be in any job.
“It got me into a bit of strife in my earlier days, but I stood my ground and was determined that I was not going to change.”
Bianca’s skills in the truck driving industry have not gone unnoticed, with the Sydney woman being a finalist for Women in Civil Contracting People Awards 2022, as well as a finalist for the Western Sydney Woman in Trades Award.
She was also the runner up for Female Truck Driver of the year in 2021 and was on the front cover of the Big Rigs Magazine in January 2021.
Now as things improve in the industry, she is encouraging women who might be interested to “give it a go”.
“It’s a great career option, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said.
“On long drives, I can listen to podcasts or e-books and educate myself about different things.
“I also get to visit some incredible places and see beautiful scenery. I get to go to places most Australians wouldn’t even know existed.
“I also don’t have anyone checking up on me every two seconds, like in an office job. You just go off on your own and get the job done.
“I really like that amount of independence.”
She also said there are some unique advantages to having women in truck driving roles.
“Hiring a woman into these positions in most cases brings a different dynamic to the working group or site,” she said.
“Women tend to have more of an understanding of what is expected from the job, with better communication and focus.
“We are also a lot more careful with the gear, resulting in less maintenance issues.
“Women tend to represent businesses very positively which in turn is great for exposure.”