For years, welding has been a boys club. No women around. Back then, it was unheard of to see a woman welding.
Today, the story is different. People are more used to the fact as the number of women welders has risen since the 80s. In fact, there are plenty of reasons for women to become welders. Women are as skilled as men are and can weld just as well.
While the landscape looks different today, there is still a serious lack of women in the trade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4% of welders are women, a percentage that has only continued to grow marginally in recent years.
Remember that Rosie the Riveter Poster?
Most of you have seen that famous poster of a woman with a polka dot bandana, rolling up her sleeve and showing off her muscle. Rosie was a posterchild associated with the female defense workers during World War II. Rosie stands as a symbol for women’s independence and represents their place in the workforce.
During WWII a lot of the men in the USA were shipped off to participate in the war. This left many empty places in the manufacturing industry. Women who were left behind filled those empty jobs. Since there were no men to do it, women gladly picked up the welders and electrodes and got to work.
This was a prime example of how good women could be in the trade–they kept the manufacturing industry alive while men were off fighting in the war. However, once the war ended and those that survived it got home, women returned to their previous jobs. Even though the women were as good as men, sometimes even better, it wasn’t enough to change society’s perception and things simply reverted back to the way they originally were.
The Hard Truth
What a lot of people don’t realize today is that we are running low on skilled welders. Experienced people who are currently working in the welding industry are soon going to retire.
Millennials in particular, who should be substituting the current welder force, are not interested in those types of jobs. Not a lot of them actually decide to become welders. Contemporary younger people are more interested in tech, arts, and education. Welding and the manufacturing industry are the lowest thing on their radar.
So unless a lot of people suddenly start to join the welding industry now, we might have a big problem in the future.
How Much are Women Represented in the Manufacturing Industry?
According to the US Census bureau, women make up nearly one-third of the manufacturing industry workforce in the United States. As of 2019, only 6% of welding, soldering, and brazing workers are female.
The situation now looks bleak, but positive things are ahead.
A record number of women are joining welder’s apprenticeship programs. There has been an increase of 35% in the number of female welders just between 2016 and 2019. This could be the answer to the future of welding and manufacturing. The older welders are deservedly retiring while there are not enough millennials to relieve them of their duties. Luckily, a new generation of women are here to pick up the tools and help get the work done.
Why Should Women Become Welders in the First Place?
According to welding instructor and industry pioneer Sue Silverstein, a career in welding offers women the opportunity to advance into positions of leadership in a field that is interesting, demanding and in-demand. Women who choose this career path are rewarded with good pay and benefits that help them maintain financial independence.
Welding is a very lucrative job opportunity. Professional and certified welders are at the very top of the food chain and earn big bucks.
Going all over the world to do welding is what will earn you a substantial salary and provide an exciting career. Many women understand this and are not going to miss out on an opportunity to get a secure job.
Popular Women Welders
If you browse through the internet, you will notice a lot of women popularizing welding amongst today’s generations. A lot of them have become celebrities and are serving as representatives in the welding world.
Another is Lena Dotson, also known as Carmen Electrode, who has her own site where she gives advice to women that want to join the trade. Russia is a country well known for its rigid gender roles. However, Elizaveta from Yekaterinburg, which you might also know as The Russian Welding Girl tries to break those norms.
Then, there is Ericka Heckman from the USA whom you might consider as a natural comrade of the Russian Welding Girl. Her dream is to achieve something that not a lot of women have. She dreams of becoming a welding supervisor and nuclear pipe welder. This is a truly hard position to be at and requires a lot of practice and experience. But as Ericka has stated, she wants to show the world that women are more than capable of reaching this position.
Photo of Barbie the Welder
Finally, there is Barbie the Welder. Barbie is a self-taught American metal sculptor who has produced sculptures for a number of significant clients including Harley Davidson and the American Welding Society. Her work has gone viral across social media as she continues to excel and push the boundaries of metal sculpting.