Woman drives garbage truck and collects trash in male dominated field

Jackson garbage woman in male dominated field

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Going out to put your trash on the curb you could run into a rare sight here in the Capital City, a female sanitation worker.

Sunday is International Women’s Day and Friday we talked with one woman about her career in a male dominated field.

Yolanda Richmond is one of the few women taking on this tough and dirty job.

"We can do whatever the guys can do and better," said Richmond. "It's challenging. It is, like any other job".

The 47 year old is officially a driver for Waste Management but regularly climbs from behind the wheel to assist Rodney Mendenhall with trash collecting.

For more than three years she has done the heavy lifting and messy job normally held by men.

"We have a target rate and what it is, it's a goal that we have to meet for the week and what it is, it's team work," said Richmond. "I don't want the guy on the back to just let him know I'm just the driver. I get out and help. He gets one side. I get the other side".

Thirty seven year old Rodney Mendenhall works the hopper and started the job about two months ago.

“She’s a real co-worker. She gets out and helps me out, talks to me you know,” said Mendenhall. “I might get tired, get like out of breath. She says ‘Go Rodney. You can do it. We’ve just go a little bit more to go’. I’m like ok. ok”.

In Belhaven the team tackles the cans of 1,600 households.

They have 1,300 in their north Jackson route.

The former Rent-A-Center assistant manager and truck driver wanted a change and something more demanding.

"When I was looking I said I have to find something else that's more challenging," said Richmond. "So I happened to be scrolling on Facebook, and I saw it. It jumped out at me when I saw career advancement opportunities. I was like hum. Let me inquire about that".

The Carthage native is one of four women working the routes at Waste Management.

District Manager Cadie Cowen worked her way up from route manager, to operations.

It is an 18 year career in solid waste that she wants other women to enter for the career opportunities.

Richmond agrees.

"They treat us just like one of the guys. We're just like one of the guys," added the Waste Management employee. "We're a family. It's a team".

The mother of one daughter also is a driver mentor who trains Waste Management’s new drivers.

Next year she hopes to be working with the company as an instructor in Florida.

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