Women In Trucking Association Announces its February 2022 Member of the Month
by Women In Trucking Staff, on Feb 1, 2022 5:00:00 AM
Plover, WI – Feb. 1, 2022 – The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced Roberta McKenna as its February 2022 Member of the Month. She is a professional driver for Clean Harbors National Transportation.
Roberta is one of the few women in the company who hauls loads of hazardous material across the country. It’s no easy feat, but this is her happy place. Much like the roads she traverses daily, her journey to a successful career as a female driver certainly was not without bumps, but now that she’s found her way to Clean Harbors, she's happy to say it feels like home.
Growing up in Malaga, Ohio, Roberta spent much of her childhood on her family’s farm. At an early age, she operated tractors, bulldozers, and trucks to assist with the daily rigors of maintaining a beef farm. It was then that she fell in love with driving.
It wasn’t until Roberta was in her mid-twenties that she would encounter the harsh stereotypes and challenges of being a woman in the industry.
As a single mother, Roberta saw trucking as a means to support her family. After earning her CDL Class A license at the age of 28, she began driving small dump trucks for a local paving and construction company in Crofton, Maryland. The company consisted mostly of women, and with the comradery and support from her female coworkers, Roberta fell even more in love with making driving a lifelong career.
However in 1985, Roberta began driving for a new company that delivered bakery supplies. Unlike with the paving and construction company, Roberta often experienced discrimination. Every day, Roberta’s male counterparts taunted her and made derogatory comments. She was given late shifts and extenuating hours that didn’t meet the demands of being a single mother. The consistent negativity, prejudices and lack of respect eventually took a toll on Roberta’s mental health.
Unwilling to put up with disrespect, Roberta changed jobs, this time landing at a major corporate manufacturer. Conditions, however, did not improve. She continued to struggle with gaining the respect of her male coworkers. With poor management and false promises on compensation and driving routes, Roberta debated quitting and leaving the industry all together. But she loved driving and couldn’t imagine herself in another career. Fueled by the desire to provide her son with the best possible life, she powered on, speaking up when her male coworkers made discriminatory remarks and demanding a fair work schedule. Her efforts didn’t always result in change, but she could be proud of herself for demanding the respect she deserved.
Then, in 2013, Roberta landed a new role with Clean Harbors, which recognized her talents and celebrated her as a woman making strides in a male-dominated field.
With more than 36 years in the transportation industry, eight of which have been at Clean Harbors, Roberta feels that much of her experiences has made her who she is today – strong, powerful, and determined.
She has helped pave the way for future female drivers and will continue to advocate for those, no matter their gender, who want a make a career out of driving.
“Be yourself, love yourself and the skin you are in,” she advises other female drivers. “Make the day what you want of it and never give up. We are all in this together and together will be stronger!”
About Women In Trucking Association, Inc.
Women In Trucking Association, Inc. is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as 17 percent of its members are men who support the mission. Women In Trucking is supported by its members and the generosity of Gold Level Partners: Amazon, Arrow Truck Sales, Daimler Trucks North America, Expediter Services, FedEx Freight, Great Dane, J.B. Hunt Transport, Michelin North America, PACCAR, Penske Transportation Solutions, Ryder System, Walmart, and Waste Management. Follow WIT on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. For more information, visit www.womenintrucking.org or call 888-464-9482.