For Sharae Moore, trucking runs in her family.
Her uncle and dad are both truck drivers, her cousins drive trucks, and while it's not exactly an 18-wheeler, her mother was a school bus driver for several years.
"It's in my blood," says Moore, sitting in the St. Elmo home where she's lived most of her life.
About Sharae Moore
› Age: 35
› Jobs: Truck driver for Landstar and owner of S.H.E. Trucking, which stands for “Sisterhood Helping Empowerment in Trucking” and offers apparel for professional women drivers
› Career: A native of Chattanooga, Moore was first trained and worked as a certified nursing assistant before deciding at age 30 to earn her commercial driver’s license and become a truck driver for a number of trucking companies over the past five years
› Personal: Moore lives in St. Elmo, where she has resided most of her life
› Website: For more information on S.H.E. Trucking at shetrucking.com.
The 35-year-old made the leap from being a certified nursing assistant to earning her commercial driver's license in 2014. Jumping from a CNA to a CDL might seem odd for some, but Moore wanted a career change when she turned 30 and figured out she could get free schooling to obtain her CDL through Swift Transportation.
"Coming from medical to trucking was just totally different," she says. "But I think being persistent was the key. Never giving up was the key for me."
Persistence can be difficult in an industry dominated by men, though, Moore quickly found out. Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only about 6 percent of truck drivers were female in 2017. Some companies have overcome that barrier, like Alabama-based Storey Trucking, which boasts a 23-percent, female-driver population.
When Moore first started out on the road, she noticed small things here and there that posed as obstacles sometimes. Every truck stop only carried large-sized gloves, which wouldn't fit her small hands. Standing at just 5 feet, 3 inches tall, there are some trucks that are more difficult to drive than others for Moore and other female drivers.
"The stigma when you are going into places — I go in and they say 'Ma'am you're in the wrong place. You are supposed to be in the front of the building,'" Moore recalled. "They don't always get it. They think you are a customer instead of the carrier."
After traveling across the country, Moore also realized that she couldn't find shirts or apparrel anywhere that announced she was a female truck driver and proud of it.
Now, nearly five years later, Moore has created an international community of over 2,000 current and aspiring female truck drivers and has launched her own apparel line for professional women drivers called "S.H.E. Trucking."
From t-shirts and hats to bumper stickers, the apparel line boasts the S.H.E. Trucking label, which is a semi truck with the apparel line's name in bold green and pink font. On Facebook, Moore has created a community of over 2,000 women who share tips on becoming a driver and stories to help others relate. It's a like-minded community that Moore didn't have when she first started out.
There are members across the 50 states, Canada and even South Africa.
"I want to encourage more women to join the industry — this industry is worth joining," Moore said. "There's a high demand for workers, and I think women can fill that gap in the industry."
The name S.H.E. Trucking means "Sisterhood Helping Empowerment in Trucking," but it was actually born from Moore's 8-year-old niece at the time who would often field questions from friends and family members who asked, "Where is Sharae?"
"She trucking," Moore's niece would respond.
Moore knows that being a professional truck driver can mean weeks on the road at a time, but over the last five years, she has switched companies several times to try and find her "niche." She most recently worked for Sese Logistics, a major Spanish trucking and logistics company that came to Chattanooga in 2012, which allowed her to work five days out of the week and stay local so she could be with her sisters who recently had babies. Now, she is going back on the road for a Dallas, Texas-based company called Landstar.
With Landstar, Moore's goal is to become the owner of her own truck one day. Locally, she has held events for Girls, Inc. and Junior League so young girls could see what it might be like to one day get behind the wheel, like Moore.
"I think it's important to show that image of a woman driver," she said. "It's not the same as it used to be."