While on the surface starting a business in a not-so-welcoming economy may not seem like a good idea, Judy says, “Right now education is at a record high. The schools are packed and there are two-year waiting lists to get into the welding programs.” And so Judy’s school will be there to pick up the slack. “I want everybody who wants to learn to have the opportunity even if it is just enough to build your own BBQ!” she adds.
I conducted the interview over several emails– Judy keeps pretty busy with her new business, including participating on a radio program. The panel discussion, on Women in Non Traditional Jobs, was originally broadcast on July 28, 2010 for the Voices of Diversity on Community Radio KBCS 91.3 FM in Seattle. http://www.kbcs.fm
Decades ago, women were confined to very specific gender roles and occupations. Today, women are seen working in a variety of careers that in the past were completely occupied by men. So, on today’s Voices of Diversity, a status check on gender equality in the workplace. Do women still face barriers to certain professions and challenges when they decide to enter a career field that in the past has shut them out?
Host: Kevin Henry. [Listen Online]
Here’s what she had to say in response to my questions:
What got you interested in welding?
A private welding school opened in town and friends said I should check it out since I was looking for a career. I put on a welding helmet and never looked back!
How did you train? And what welding process do you use most? what process do you use the most or feel more familiar with?
I attended a private welding school for a three month course. Stick and MIG welding. It was such a great school. At the end of 3 months I was able to pass the overhead and vertical 1″ test at NASSCO in San Diego and went right to work. Since I have learned many more processes on the job. But the most common is FCAW, GMAW-P and SMAW.
What kind of welding jobs have you held?
I have worked Construction, Fabrication, Manufacturing (production) and done some art at home. I have worked multiple shipyards, Nuclear power construction and shut downs, and different fab shops. I have also taught welding at three different Community colleges, and I’ve been a welding inspector for British Petroleum, PSI and the city of Portland Oregon. I have been a welding supervisor and I have had my own welding consulting business.
What has been your biggest career challenge or work challenge to date? And how did you handle it?
Probably working as a supervisor for a very controlling manager. I had 64 welders working for me, most of whom I taught to weld, and a manager that thought that welding was a necessary evil. Like all other supervisors who find themselves the middleman (person :-)) I tried to keep things on an even keel. But then I would go home at night and cry. My husband was an awesome support.
Have you experienced discrimination as a woman welder? if YES how have you handled it? if NO, why do you think that is?
Not while in the work force on my tools. I worked hard at earning respect, by being the best on the job, always being where I was supposed to be, and doing what I was supposed to be doing.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self? and/or What advice would you give young women interested in welding as a career?
If you like being tough, working hard and being proud of what you do. Go for it! It’s a great career.
Can you talk a bit about the process of starting a business, advice you would give to others, stumbling blocks you have encountered, etc
I have had great support. My big stumbling block has been the city of Tumwater.
Some of the misconceptions I’m looking to “smash” with these Rosie profiles include: welding is not work for women, you don’t need to be smart to be a welder, and there are not a lot of opportunities to advance.
Welders use geometry almost daily, must know a lot about metallurgy and use it daily not to mention electricity and electronics. [Other opportunities include] inspections, supervision, engineering, research and development, teaching, business owner, etc. It’s been a great career.
Judy’s advice for a successful career?
Take whatever job you can, build your resume, learn everything you can everywhere you go and keep quality at the top of your priority list.