As technical program educators and manufacturing employers discuss ways to appeal to more high school students, some are turning their attention to women as a potential source of new job candidates. For years women have been slowly but surely entering the field of skilled labor. The same reasons that draw men into the field (hands-on training and assignments, rewarding work, a sense of making real accomplishments every day, etc.) are also compelling for women.
Why Women Go Into Welding
Once women see through the myths of welding, many realize that they enjoy the work a lot. Careers in welding and pipefitting offer a welcome alternative to desk jobs and retail. Also, contrary to the popular myth that only exceptionally strong people can become skilled tradesmen, much of the work relies on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, instead. This is important for women who are kinesthetic learners and want a physically engaging career.
Welding and other careers in skilled labor are generally regarded as well-paying and steady. With a recovering economy and a “hiring boom” in skilled labor, skilled trades are becoming more attractive for young women starting their careers. Added to the other reasons why women enjoy welding in general, turning that skill into a career is an attractive option.
Changing Perceptions in the Field
According to the US Department of Labor, women still only make up 2% of welders across the country. Some statistics claim that women make up as much as 6% of the welding workforce. Regardless, they remain only a small fraction of the field. However, more workers on the ground are noticing more women entering the career. Even the current president of the American Welding Society is a woman (Nancy Cole).
Women already working in the field feel that there has been a drastic change in attitudes over the past few years. While it is still difficult to convince some people, women are often accepted as equals into the predominantly male workforce. Ultimately, as long as you can lift the welding torch, it doesn’t matter what gender you are. The metal doesn’t care.
Women who are interested in training for a career in the skilled trades can find support from various women’s welding groups across the country. For more information about welding courses for women, contact a technical school in your local area.