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More women getting behind the wheel for trucking jobs

Posted at 4:45 AM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 08:22:06-05

The focuses of the nation right now are the election and the colorfully described "pink wave" in Washington, D.C., in which a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate.

But, that women-driven momentum is something a state program is hoping to ride, as well.

"We always see ourselves in a square and the box is always small," said Valley resident Patricia McKinley. "I never saw myself in a bigger box."

McKinley also never saw herself driving a big truck. 

"This opportunity has given me that bigger box's great outside the box," McKinley exclaimed. 

She is a mother of two and a wife. But, now she is also a business owner with Khavl Transport and a provider for her family. She became a truck driver after just a few weeks of training through Southwest Truck Driving Training, a partner with Arizona Department of Transportation's Construction Academy.

Inside her sessions, McKinley said she was the only woman and getting behind the wheel of the big-rig for the first time was nerve-racking.

"I was always afraid of them...but, I'm like, 'Oh, my goodness! If I can bake a cake as a woman, I can drive this truck,'" McKinley said. 

Women make up less than 10 percent of construction workers in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Since ADOT's program started in 2014 through their On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services, 35 percent of more than 600 graduates have been women. 

"We try to make sure that we do quick placement. We get the cash flow for them, so they can start rebuilding their lives," said On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program Manager Corey Foster.

"The Construction Academy combines hands-on activities and classwork that includes computer technology, construction math, commercial driving and job-related safety and health hazards," ADOT said in a press release. "Training is offered in the evenings and some weekends to make it more accessible.

"To help remove barriers to careers in transportation construction, Construction Academy programs that ADOT offers with employers, community colleges, Native American tribes and others provide free training and other support – including safety gear and help with transportation and child care – for members of economically disadvantaged groups," the press release continued. "While the list of qualifying individuals also includes minorities, veterans and those who are unemployed, among others, one benefit of this program has been helping more women enter the construction trades."

If you want to apply, visit ADOT's website, call 602-712-7761, or visit ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office at 1801 W. Jefferson St., Suite 101 in Phoenix.