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Two Americas: Life on the road for female truck drivers

Kate Kosse
Posted at 10:23 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 01:23:07-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When you see a semi truck on the road today, you are more than likely to see a man behind the wheel.

The trucking industry has been dominated by men for years, but in 1992 Kate Kosse decided to learn to be a driver anyways.

Kate wanted to spend more time with her husband Tim who had already been a driver for 20 years at that time.

"Like they say an office with a view," Kate said about the time she spent in the truck. "You know you see the cascades one day and the Rocky mountains the next."

But not every day was perfect for the couple. Because it was a male dominated industry, Kate experienced sexism.

"There's this hostility usually between shippers and receivers and the drivers," Kate said. "So, if I would go in, they wouldn't even respect me enough to look up and acknowledge my presence and so Tim would always have to be the one to go in."

In one instance they had their tires slashed and graffiti painted on their trailer.

"Stunned that someone could have that much hate for in what way does this possibly affect you," Kate said about the incident.

One of the other challenges for Kate was finding a restroom.

"They had showers that were for guys," Tim said. Back in the day there were truck shops that they had what they called gang showers like they have in high school where it was all just one big room."

"I had to ask for a women's bathroom and in one instance they sent me upstairs to the office," Kate said about being at loading docks or warehouses. "Sometimes they would say we don't have that and Tim would have to stand at the door and guard it while I used it."

Despite the challenges they faced, Kate said the industry has changed for the better.

"The problems that women would have would be the same problems new drivers would have now," Kate said.

While historically there has been a large pay gender pay gap in many fields, throughout Tim and Kate's careers, they both had the same pay rate.

Greg Bradbury is a reporter for KGUN 9. Greg is a graduate of Syracuse University where he studied Broadcast Journalism and Spanish. Greg joined KGUN 9 in February 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist after working at the ABC National Desk as a Digital News Associate. Share your story ideas and important issues with Greg by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.