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Female truck driver finds herself unwelcome on oil rigs

Female truck driver finds herself unwelcome on oil rigsS. Jessop shares her unique experience being a truck driver for an oil rig in this career interview. She shares what it was like having men not want her on their rigs just because she was female, and how she constantly has to work harder than others in her field to prove herself because of her gender. Whether you are male or female, if you’re thinking about a career in truck driving, this interview is for you!

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a truck driver working in the oil field. I have 7 1/2 years of driving tractor trailer. I would describe myself as dedicated, trustworthy, and caring.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am female. It seems like I have always had to prove myself since I have worked in mostly a “mans” job occupational field. In the oil field they just didn’t want me there. A lot of the men said flat out that women didn’t belong in the oil field. I did my job better than most, some people at the rigs would tell my dispatcher that they wanted me on their rig, and I was told that I worked circles around most of the men, but that wasn’t enough to get over the prejudice of most of the workers. I am an outgoing person, very friendly to everyone. In hind sight, I should have kept to myself and been invisible I guess. After 4 months of harassment I started keeping to myself, but that didn’t help, so, I lasted 3 more months and then quit.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I haul fresh water to rigs when they are getting ready to frac the well. They shoot the water down the well at 8000 psi to break up the rock, shale, etc to get the minerals. I haul off what they call flow back, the fresh water after it has gone down the well. After the well is set, gas, oil and lease water is sent through a separator. The poison H2S is removed from the gas and it is sent down the gas line to sell, the water and oil is then separated and they go to their own tanks, usually 3 tanks for each so nothing overflows. I go in and pull the lease water out and take it to salt water disposals. New wells can produce 200 barrels an hour, our rigs can only hold 130, so it can be very busy. What I would like to change is the misconception that women can’t do this job. Its hard work, but that’s what I love about it.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
I rate it right now at a 4. The thing that needs to change, is being taken seriously. I have a good head on my shoulders, I can see things that would make our jobs easier but I’m not taken seriously.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
I love driving. It was my sweet spot, but I am at a crossroads in my life. Do what I love and be alone or find a new passion and have a social life. I choose social life. I love to bake, make jewelry, read and photography. Those are the areas that I am looking into now.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I have been all over the lower 48 and Canada. I wanted off the road so I could have some kind of social life. Since the 7 month struggle I have had here, I’m not sure what to do, all available driving jobs are in the oil field it seems. I have been looking for another career in some of my other interests. I believe that if you love what you do you will never WORK a day in your life. My mother is 90 years old and still does what she loves 30 hours a week. Having mostly trucking and construction in my background, It has been difficult to get in the door to start a new career. I WILL persevere.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I got started back in 1985. I was 6 months pregnant, and my (then) husband was driving truck. We were going through Nevada and he got very sick and our load had to be in LA. He told me I was going to have to drive, and that out in the desert I couldn’t hurt anything… So, a truck driver was born!

If I could go back, I would have learned other aspects of the transportation industry, it would have opened more career opportunities for when I got older.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I just kept doing what I loved and never looked long term. I am now at an age that pulling a flatbed or a tanker is out of the question. I hate pulling reefer or dry van, (to much time setting.)

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
To prepare for retirement when you are young enough to have the time to save for it… My boys are 25 and 30 and they both are focused on retirement.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
I went to a location where the well was set and the fluids were pumping into the stock tanks. It was about 11pm. When I pulled on to the location I got a strange feeling, (goose bumps) I pulled around to load. I couldn’t get my pump to work, it would start then stop. Nothing would work. I had a very uneasy feeling, kept looking behind me felt like I was being watched. You have to understand, these locations are out in remote areas of northwestern Oklahoma, nothing for miles and miles. I couldn’t get anything done. I called another driver he said that it was on Native American burial land, and there was a little prayer you had to say. I told him to come do it; I wasn’t going to, I thought he was pulling my leg. He came and said the prayer and he got loaded no problems… I never went back there!

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I am proud of what I do. I feel I do a great service for Americans. We bring food, clothes, vehicles, building material, fuels to stay warm, etc. Local drivers take grain and hay out of the field… we move America.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
The challenges that I face are inner city traffic like Dallas at 5pm. Staying current with all the DOT regulations and knowing the local and state laws.

The only thing that makes me want to quit is not being able to have a social life, being single and on the road all the time is very hard and lonely.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable
or healthy work-life balance? How?

This job can be very stressful, but if you love it you take it in stride because you love what you do. Truck driving is a career that you HAVE to love to do it.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
Oilfield work is great with pay from $3000 to 6000 a month. You work about 70 hrs in 6 days in the oil positions. For local hauling jobs, it pays on average 1200 – 1500 a month. Over the road (OTR) trucking pays 4000-10000 a month, but that depends on whether you work for a company as an employee, or own your own. I grossed 189,000 when I owned my own rig.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I have never taken a vacation. When I was OTR, I owned my own rig so I would intentionally take jobs that would take me to the towns where my friend and family lived and just take a few days or a week off to spend time with them. A company driver can’t do that and they usually get 2 days off for every 2 or 3 weeks out on the road.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Today you have to go to truck driving school. I would say Schneider National has the best, they teach you to handle the truck in different situations, like hydroplane, ice etc.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
Take a hard look at it. If you are considering OTR, make sure you like being alone a lot unless you run team, them make sure you can live in a 6×6 space with someone else. Any driving job you take you have to be on your A game. Most of the people on the road with you have little or no respect for what you are driving, and it can be dangerous.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would love to go to pastry school and open my own bakery

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  • I too found myself feeling unwanted when I went into the Truck Driving field. It is a field dominated by men and they still do not accept female truck drivers in the field. I get heckled over the CB while driving down the road, at truck stops, etc. It is very annoying, however, it is slowly changing. I feel that the more women we get into this industry, the better it will be.

  • I admire you and the work you’ve taken on as a woman, but also as a human being. I was drawn to this post because it reminded me of my dad, I asked him once when he was a kid what he wanted to be while growing up. He said Truck driver. I can’t say that I want to be a truck driver, but I can relate to knowing that this career is viewed as male culture. I think the career path I want to get into can relate to male based culture.

    I want to be an illustrator. I’m an creative type. From what I can see and remember, artist have always been male or have been credited to males. I knew there were female artist out there, but I never felt that they never got the credit or acknowledgment each one of them deserve. Not that male artist are great. I’m in awe with every artist and I believe that every single on of these human beings in creative world have influenced every up coming generation.

    I’m not bashing males artist. My favorite artist is James Jean. I admire him. I guess I just wish women were more recognized and moved up in any company creatively or independently. GUESS what…there is. and that makes me even more excited that my wish has come true.

    More and more women are coming out doing things that men do such as comic book writing. I want to be a comic book illustrator, and to know that more women are surfacing and giving hope to young people that it’s possible to be in a such a male based culture. It’s possible to be able to attain the ability to draw just as good as anybody well.

    It’s daunting too because not all humans in this area is encouraging, it’s extremely competitive. which means I have to work harder and prove my being to others I can do what any other man or female can do. I want to be able to work in a community. I want to work together as a team. I want to work with awesome human beings all to create art and influence more minds to be creative!

  • It is stories like these that are important to hear. There are many that believe discrimination is no longer an issue in modern America. I would disagree and I think Ms. Jessop would, too. As a gay man, I can relate to discrimination on the job. Of course, sexism is very different from discrimination based on sexuality; albeit, these are both examples of workplace discrimination that need to be addressed in our society. I find Ms. Jessop’s perseverance in her field remarkable. It is the tenacity that she exemplifies that leads to positive changes facing workplace discrimination.

    I have had co-workers not want to work with me due to my sexuality. Needless to say, this made work environments uncomfortable, but I have learned that this not my burden, but those that are uncomfortable with diversity. I can recall the first job I had my supervisor did not like to approach me or have conversations with me (even regarding work) because my sexuality made him “uncomfortable.” He was not the only one who acted in this manner. My employment was in a conservative town, so this view was not uncommon. Many of my coworkers made work less than desirable. Naturally, at first, this made me quite sad. It is disappointing to be judged by your sexuality, sex, etc. rather than your quality of work. However, I have learned the diversity I bring to the table is a gift. I may face discrimination because I am a proud and unafraid gay man, but this adversity has given me humility and empathy. For that, I am grateful. I am determined to always fight for what is right because I believe in leaving the world better than I found it. As minorities, we should demand better from our fellow humans. Through perseverance and determination, people like Ms. Jessop and me can help end workplace discrimination.

  • I have a friend who drives a truck as an employee and he used to work OTR which was hard for his wife and his 4 year old son. He would call his wife several times a day, even at work, because he was lonely but majority of the time just bored. The interviewee’s experience working at the oil rig was grievous. It reminded me of a movie called North Country. It’s based on a true story where a woman who was continually harassed in her town’s mining field that she took her case to court. It’s 2017 and we still see women discouraged and disrespected no matter their education not skill set.

  • This interview was very interesting as it pertains to feminism. In high school, I played baseball with the boys for all four years. I could tell that they didn’t expect much from me, but I was better than most of the players. As we got older, I lettered. It was difficult, not because of my peers, but because of the coaches. They didn’t want me to play, would rarely put me in the game, would not coach me. The difference was that I stayed with it. I loved playing baseball and it didn’t matter that I was by myself and people made fun of me. I wish you would have stayed with it if it was truly something you loved to do. It’s hard for people to find something they enjoy for work, and make good money. It is breaking barriers like these that will pave the way for other women.

  • Ms. Jessep, I loved reading your story. Although we both have different careers, we each share similar work situations. On the surface, bartending does not seem anything like truck driving, but it’s working in a male dominated industry that I share with you. We both face sexism, questioning of whether or not we are “good enough” for this job, and we possibly make less money than our male colleague. I definitely felt like I related most to you when you said that in order to do this job, you have to love what you do.
    When I was 16, my mom and I were sitting at a bar and she said how she could never imagine being a bartender because “they never stop moving.” Here I am at 23, I started bartending two years ago in order to get myself through college. It’s true, we do never stop moving. We don’t get breaks to eat, sit, or use the restroom. We work anywhere from 8 to 16 hours sometimes on end, putting fake smiles on our faces even when we are exhausted, all to ensure that our guests are happy. A question I get asked frequently is “Do you like your job?” And I do, I love my job. It’s hard, laborious, tiring work, but I love it. I feel like I am at my best when I am working, and I think that you feel that way too about your job. I am glad to see another woman in a sexist field, dominating the workplace, making it her own, and loving every minute of it.

  • My stepfather is a truck driver and for years I have watched the struggles he’s had with the job, his only inhibitor being a family back home and a bad back, well, those and occasionally a broken truck. And so to read Jessop’s story, it’s like seeing a whole new side of something I thought I knew well. It’s astounding to me, that I never realized how difficult this sort of job environment could be for a woman.

    As a woman, I’ve been forced out of things I loved since I was a little girl. Soccer, my interest in scouting, even my investment in so-called “nerd culture.” On numerous occasions I’ve had boys and even grown men scoff at my love of Star Wars, tell me I shouldn’t do things because they weren’t feminine. And so, in a lot of those cases, I adapted my interests to find a way to fit into worlds that didn’t want me.

  • I understand her struggle. I am a young female in a man driven major, biology. Being in classes at my college I often get questioned why I want to be a bio major. I feel derided when I get asked these questions as if I don’t belong in these classes or major because I am a female.

  • I just relate to this story because I feel no matter what the situation, there’s always some sort of double standard when it comes to women doing real work. It’s really hard to be taken seriously anywhere. I don’t understand why every woman, or every man for that matter, has to be treated as if they should fit into a perfect little mold their gender has made up for them before they’re born. Some women enjoy hard work like this, others don’t. Some males enjoy work like this, some don’t. It seems really important that both sexes are welcome to join whatever profession they want if they are capable. If that were the case, we would see how capable both are.

  • when i was working in the culinary industry many men gave me crap on how i dont have a hard enough hart or strong enough endurance for the competitions. that only fuiled the fire that pushed me to be a national championship winner on a high school leve