Kirkwood Community College hoping to recruit more women to become truck drivers

Published: May. 21, 2019 at 3:43 AM CDT
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Last year, the American Trucking Association said the U.S. needed about 50,000 more truck drivers on the road.

Women make up less than 8 percent of truck drivers across the country, according to the nonprofit Women in Trucking.

Officials from Kirkwood Community College said they work to recruit female truck drivers but there have only been a handful of women over the last couple of years taking the class.

Kirkwood has a membership with Women in Trucking to try to recruit more. Workers say people look at truck driving as a male dominant career, and it's hard to get rid of that stereotype.

One woman taking the class is looking to change that.

Chontella Cobbs spends most of her time driving the big rig on Kirkwood's driving range.

"That's where we basically learn how to drive, learn how to shift the vehicle,” Cobbs said. “Make sure you can handle the truck."

Six days per week, she's working to get her CDL. Cobbs is only one of two women in her truck driving class.

She admits people look twice when she's out practicing on the highways.

"It'd be nice to see more women in the industry, but it's not intimidating,” she said. “It's not intimidating at all. Cause women can do anything that men can do. I mean you see women are mechanics, we can pretty much do the same thing.”

She hopes to one day run her own trucking company.

"The trucking industry is a billion dollar industry,” she said. “It provides job securities, stability, something that is always going to be around everything we need in the country is moved on a truck.”

There's a shortage of truck drivers in general. Officials with Kirkwood say companies are willing to pay more to fill the truck driving void and they're using that to recruit women.

"People see it as a male dominant career. We are trying to change that,” said Ashley Grimm, transportation liaison with Kirkwood Community College. “There are women who are qualified to operate these types of vehicles. Starting salary for truck drivers about $55,000 to 60,000."

Cobbs said handling a truck isn't as hard as it looks. She's hoping to be a driving force for women in the industry.

"Women are just as dominant as men,” she said. “So I just feel like if it was brought to our attention or somebody advocated for it, women would join trucking."

The CDL course at Kirkwood is five weeks.

to learn more about their course.