Jesseca Orosco is a female trucker. Her story is part of "My Reality: A Hidden America," a special "20/20" report by ABC News' Diane Sawyer, airing Friday, April 20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, which features potential solutions for women who work in fear. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC News.
In 2009, I was laid off amongst many others during that time period. Up until then, I had worked for many years in an office. The last position I held was managing a shipping/receiving office.
While looking for work, I found myself competing with other applicants that had college degrees for positions that paid less than what I was used to making. Being that I had experience and not education, I was unlucky in finding another office position, so I changed my career path. I received training for my CDL (commercial driver's license) and also obtained certifications for operating heavy equipment.
I originally planned on being a truck driver a short while to gain experience on the road, and go back to an office in the logistics field to have a more rounded knowledge of the shipping industry. After my first year of driving a truck, I made up my mind that the office was no longer a good fit for my life.
In trucking I was able to double, triple and at times quadruple the amount of income I made. It is a good industry for anyone who is trying to start their own business and be in charge of the income they need to make. Although it is physically challenging at times for a female, I learned how to make my life and job easier through different experiences I've had in the last 7 1/2 years of driving.
The hardest part of the job is the time you spend on the road and not at home. I'm fortunate to have a local driving job and yet that still consumes up to 14 hours a day.
The trucking industry is a male-dominated field. Although the numbers of women becoming truck drivers are rapidly increasing, we women are still outnumbered.
As a female, working around other male truck drivers is not the biggest concern for safety. Many men truck drivers are friendly and willing to help out lady truckers. What is a safety concern is being broken down on the side of the highway alone or in truck stops with the general public.
The majority of male truck drivers are out here working for the same purpose as females, supporting their family and making a decent living while sacrificing weeks or months at a time on the road. I believe, the way a female truck driver conducts herself around men in general, and the safety precautions she takes in any circumstance, directly affects the way men respond.
Many incidents have taken place towards women in this industry in the form of sexual harassment or abuse. Many companies will allow men and women to train together by sharing a truck and/or living out of a truck for weeks or months at a time. If anything is done or said that might provoke unprofessionalism by either the male or female, it should be reported to the company to prevent any type of incident.
There are many female trucking groups online that urge women to speak up about male trainers disrespecting females in the industry. It should be reported the first time it happens and not brushed off.
At times women engage in sexual conversations with men in the industry and don't think much of it or consider it friendly conversation, while the men are thinking you are making advances. This would lead to some type of sexual harassment. Point blank, leave the conversations professional no matter what setting you are in -- a truck stop, a warehouse or a mechanic shop. If you don't want to be sexually harassed and if you want to be treated like a lady, stay a lady in a male-dominated field.
I feel strongly about the clothing that is worn when working around men. We are females and many of us want to maintain our femininity and be able to dress in flattering clothing. I don't think wearing your best clothing in a truck is the smartest idea for women.
The majority of women want to be respected for the work that we do, not how we look.
If you are wearing a dress while driving a truck, the last concern you want to have if you break down is a wardrobe malfunction. If you break down on the side of the highway, the first thing you are going to do is evaluate the situation. You might be jumping in the hood of the engine or under the trailer finding and fixing your problem.
Although there are times when nothing is provoked by the female and she is being harassed, she should be prepared to defend herself in a threatening situation. While walking through dark lots at night or truck stops, carrying something for self-defense is a wise decision. It can be pepper spray, a pocket knife, a small Taser, etc. Being cautious and aware of all surroundings and the people that are around are all a part of being safe on the job.
In conclusion, as a lady in a male-dominated field, act a lady, respect yourself as one, protect yourself and don't let anyone treat you otherwise.