Although the trucking industry has traditionally been predominately male, there has been a significant increase of female truck drivers emerging into the industry. Katia Barrette, being one herself, entered the industry in 2018 as a Class 1 long- haul driver. After working in various administrative and office jobs for most of her life, she earned her Heavy Vehicle Driver’s License (Class 1) in Quebec one week ahead of her 49th birthday.
She spent 10 years in the real estate market and felt it didn’t challenge her enough. Reflecting on her upbringing, she says, “My grandfather used to be a truck driver, and it made me think that it could be a lifestyle I may want. In 2018, I was at a point in my life where I wanted to make a drastic change. I wasn’t happy with the life I was leading and decided to switch it up and move into trucking. Today, I don’t just love my job at Erb; I adore it.”
Road to The Erb Group
At the beginning of her trucking career, she moved through various companies but made the jump to The Erb Group in November 2019. She explained, “I used to work for other companies, and they took advantage of me, especially as a woman. I made a list of truck companies I wanted to work for, and Erb was always on the top. Whenever I met another Erb driver on the road, they always said they’d been at the company for a long time. There are so many transport companies, and they’re all hiring. But the fact that people stay a long time at Erb makes it look like they are doing something right.”
Women in Trucking
In Canada, women make up 3.5% of Canada’s 300,000 truck drivers, according to labor market data from Trucking HR Canada. Katia is one of several female drivers at The Erb Group. She keeps in touch with other female drivers while on the road, through a Facebook group called She Trucking. “I’m very ambitious, and I think that’s why I am good at what I do. Sometimes the job is physically hard, like when the axles don’t want to budge. But it’s our job, so I manage to get it done.” Katia continues, “My piece of advice to younger drivers is that it’s not all rosy and you need to have thick skin. It takes time to learn how to drive, but if you take it slow, you will succeed. Just have patience and go slow. Your confidence will build over time.”
Confidence is Everything
“I’ve grown in confidence in the last three years, and I feel like a REAL driver. I was doing a delivery in LA a while back and googled what the area looked like ahead of time to ensure I could back in easily. Once I arrived, I realized it was going to be a tight squeeze. The gentlemen guided me into the docking zone, and I parked in one smooth transition. Once they learned I had only been driving for three years; their faces were shocked. They said most drivers refused to back in and made them unload on the street. It made me feel like a champ.”
Katia continues, “Another time I had an eagle hit my windshield while driving. I learned to stay calm in tough situations. My previous experience in customer service may have helped me in this area. The windshield completely shattered. I had to transition through different lanes and pull over safely. When I look back on the video footage, I was incredibly calm and confident.”
Safety is embedded into The Erb Group’s corporate culture, ensuring initiatives and programs are in place across the whole company. The company has been recognized multiple times for being an industry leader, including being awarded TCAs (Truckload Carrier’s Association) Fleet Safety Award twice! For our complete list of awards, click here.
Her last piece of advice for anyone sitting on the fence, “It’s never too late to make a change. Life is short, and you have to do something that makes you happy. And this job makes me happy.”
Interested in becoming an Erb International – Cross Border Driver? Check out our job postings here.