My bedroom as a little girl from around ages 4 to 6 was decked out in Barbie. My walls were purple with border wallpaper designed with Barbie’s face, framed by hearts and pink flowers, lining the top. My twin bed was covered in a comforter that had that same image dead center. And there was no lack of Barbie dolls and clothes to scatter the floor. I was a Barbie girl.
But I was also a bit of a tomboy. I played outside, climbing trees, riding ATVs, shooting my BB gun … and climbing on my grandfather’s “big truck” like it was a jungle gym when he was home. My cousin had this large rug that was laid out like a little city that had roadways running through it, and we’d drive our toy tractor trailers all over it.
But by the time I saw someone that looked like a Barbie (my mother: tall, thin and blonde) climb behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and drive it for a living, I had already chosen a career in journalism. My career wasn’t inspired by those toy trucks or a Barbie career doll, but that doesn’t mean someone else’s can’t be.
[Related: DHL partners with Girl Scouts to showcase supply chain careers]
TransForce, a truck driver recruiting agency, recently launched a campaign called “Barbies in Trucking” that calls for Mattel to introduce a new addition to the Barbie career lineup: a Truck Driver Barbie. Mattel’s selection of Barbie career dolls includes everything from the typical – doctor and nurse, baker and chef, makeup artist and cosmetologist, scientist and marine biologist – to the somewhat unattainable like a pop star. But it’s not very representative of the more skilled labor-type jobs. Just like welding or plumbing, for example, I certainly never thought truck driving was something I, as a woman, should aim for until I was already on my own career path.
But it’s definitely something I’ve considered at least once since graduating with a degree that for a long time didn’t pay off – one that saddled me with a load of debt and a not-so-decent-paying salary for many years. My mom hit the road making more than double what I started out making with a college degree, which is what I was told my whole life I needed if I wanted to make a living beyond minimum wage and government assistance.
Truck driving is a good job. It would be inspiring to see Mattel exhibit truck driving as a career to young girls, but it could also inspire them to pursue a career in trucking beyond the driver’s seat. Just like driving, I wasn’t aware – even as a teenager – of all the different career opportunities the trucking industry offers.
Recognizing women’s significant role in the trucking industry, where they currently make up 14% of the workforce, TransForce’s campaign aims to highlight women’s contributions to the industry and inspire young girls to consider careers in transportation – not just as truck drivers.
“We believe that by introducing a Truck Driver Barbie, we can send a powerful message to young girls that the transportation industry welcomes and values their contributions,” said Kelly McGurk, vice president of revenue marketing at TransForce. “Whether behind the wheel of a box truck, a big rig or seated behind a desk as a CEO, the possibilities in the trucking industry are endless. We want Barbie to represent one of America’s most essential workers: a Truck Driver.”
The “Barbies in Trucking” campaign aims to break gender stereotypes, promote diversity and encourage young girls to dream big, fostering a future where women play an even more significant role in the transportation sector.
Somehow, I did land myself in the trucking industry … as a journalist, and now I see the many roles women play. I can’t say that having a Truck Driver Barbie would’ve been the catalyst that changed my career trajectory to a different role in transportation, but I can’t say that it wouldn’t have either. And it certainly could for some other little girl out there with purple walls and a pink Barbie comforter.
So, put Barbie in a truck!
P.S. Offer different color options for the truck; pink is a given, but also purple, blue, bright yellow, etc. I’m partial to mint green (the color of my horse trailer – it may not be a 53-footer, but I can back a trailer).
You can support TransForce’s campaign by signing its petition for a Truck Driver Barbie here.
Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at [email protected].