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"It's fun with girls who dare"

When Frida Östman started driving her EPA tractor, she knew exactly what she wanted to do when she was older. She was intent on becoming a lorry driver. Said and done: after 3 years in the High School Vehicle & Transport programme, Frida now sits in a Volvo FH 540 8×4, ploughing snow up in northern Jämtland.

It all started at the age of 15 when Frida acquired an EPA tractor that she tootled around in at home in Rossön. At that time, vehicles & motor interest were seriously awakened.

“Well, after I got my EPA tractor, it just took off from there. I became interested in everything with an engine”, says Frida with a broad smile during our interview. We conduct the interview rolling along in her “office” a Volvo FH 8×4 equipped with Mählers latest addition, the combi-plough DPD that can be driven both in left.- and right-hand alignment. Frida maintains an average speed of about: 45-50 km/h on Route 992, a snow-covered, narrow and crooked road that winds its way through the forest. The few cars we meet drive to the side and stop, when they see how Frida’s plough takes up most of the road width. The CB radio crackles. It’s logging driver Elias Sundqvist calling Frida to ask if it is okay to drive up to Route 45 that Route 992 connects to.

“I’ll soon be on the last left-hand bend and then I am on Route 45, so it’s okay for you to do so”, Frida retorts on the radio whilst she continues to plough with a steady hand. Frida hangs the microphone back in its cradle and continues.

“I completed the high school Vehicles & Transport programme in Strömsund and then did my internship at DHL in Strömsund where I also had a summer job”, says Frida. After school, Frida missed her home town and asked Hans Johansson, a partner of Fjällsjö Åkeri in Backe if he might have a job for her. It happened that he did, and consequently gravel and snow took the place of transporting goods.

“Although It was fun to transport goods, I have a very varied and interesting job now. One day I might be ploughing snow and the next day it might be gravel, and then I might also be operating wheel loaders whilst loading the truck”, says Frida when we arrive at Route 45. While Frida clears the intersection, the conversation turns to the gender perspective. Frida thinks she was accepted well as a girl in the male dominated haulage industry.

“I think most guys & blokes appreciate the fact that more girls are coming into the industry. Some also think that it takes big muscles to cope with the job but it is absolutely not the case”, says Frida Frida remembers when she told her parents that she was going to start driving a truck.

“My Mum maybe didn’t say so much but Dad was probably a little more hesitant. But now I’m better than Dad when he operated his drill and I drive a truck”, says Frida with a laugh. Frida’s advice to other girls who are curious about a career in driving a truck is crystal clear. “If they’re the least bit interested in driving a truck, they should absolutely try it, they will not regret it. It is fun with girls who dare to follow their own head and it is necessary absolutely”, says Frida without the slightest hesitation, before she stops in the small village of Hällvattnet to drop me off. I take a couple of pictures of Frida in front of the truck and then she heads off towards Backe to plough the return sector of her plough route. On a fine, sunny day such as this, it is easy to be jealous of Frida’s work. At the same time you know that there are other days filled with blizzards, drifting snow and non-existent visibility. Regardless of whether it’s a man or a woman driving it can be really tough to operate a snowplough in such conditions.