Mrs. Clarissa Rankin doesn’t look like your stereotypical trucker. She’s a black mother of two, a business owner, and has a whopping 1 million followers on Tik Tok. She’s a different kind of lady trucker. In “Sparkle” – her 2019 Freightliner Cascadia – Clarissa brings her whole fanbase along for each ride. Oh, but not before her daily meditation. “You have to be calm to be a great driver,” she told CNN. She does hauls within a 250-mile radius of her Charlotte-based trucking company – running routes within the Carolinas and sometimes up to Virginia.
She’s very serious about her craft – she was earning six figures by her second year. Now, as an entrepreneur, Clarissa looks to change the narrative about female truckers. In her feature with Brut America, Clarissa elaborated on this. “You can be a girly girl…[be feminine]…and still be a truck driver.” She hopes to educate and encourage more women to look into trucking as a viable career. She’s pushing for more women in trucking but be warned. It’s HARD work being a lady trucker.
It takes a lot of knowledge and training to get into trucking. It can be extremely demanding and its sacrifices aren’t easy to make. Despite this, trucking’s benefits to women are clear. In her Brut feature, Clarissa said trucking helped her “make her own destiny”. In fact, she became a trucker to help pay medical bills for her son’s heart defect. She did this in the middle of getting her criminal justice degree. It turns out she wouldn’t have the best career prospects in that field. “I would have needed so much experience to make the money I needed,” she said.
While it may be a welcome surprise to see someone as “classy” as Mrs. Rankin behind the wheel of a semi-truck, female truck drivers often fear for their safety. Parking lots and trucking rest stops aren’t exactly the most female driver-friendly places you can think of. If female drivers need breaks, it’s where they go. Clarissa told us whenever she’s in a trucker lot, she always goes to its best-lit parts. She secures her doors and she tries to make as few stops as possible. In fact, she even has her own porta-potty for bathroom breaks. She went as far as saying, She sees it all as doing “everything possible to make sure she comes home safe.”
Trucking presents many challenges for women. For instance, most trucks’ cabs are built to accommodate bulkier male bodies. As a result, many women feel awkward in a truck’s front seat. Smaller female drivers often strain to get to gears and pedals. In addition, nobody wants to be uncomfortable during a long-haul trip. Like most male-dominated industries, trucking isn’t really welcoming women with open arms. Yet, according to BizJournals, there’s been incremental growth in the number of female truckers every year. Given the current driver shortage, there’s never been a better time for an influx of female drivers. BizJournals reports that the current shortage will require the trucking industry to hire over a million new drivers within the next decade – around 110,000 of them yearly.
In light of this, more and more female truckers are beginning to establish themselves on the internet. According to CNN, “Truckers like Asmin de Loa, Shanya Urquidi, and Tierra Allen have five-to-six-figure followings on TikTok and other platforms. Until more women take on the mantle of “lady trucker”, Clarissa will continue to advocate for them. “Look ladies, the only reason you’re not in this industry is because you don’t know how fun it is,” she exclaimed with a wide, toothy grin. She just might be on to something.
What are your thoughts on getting more female truck drivers in the workforce? Do you know any female truck drivers? Leave a comment to us know what you think.