We connected with Deborah on Facebook back in February when she volunteered to be exposed to the world as a New Rosie here on the Carmen Electrode blog. Since we absolutely love women who are proud to be fabricators and speak up about it when asked, we love Deborah! Deborah has had quite a long career in welding so far, starting when a woman was not necessarily welcome on the job site. Through hard work, attention to detail, and pride in her welds she worked her way up to head of the welding department at Non-Stop Scaffolding in Shreveport, Louisiana. Here’s our interview with Deborah; we’ll let her tell you the rest of her story.
Where do you live and work?
I live in Blanchard, Louisiana and I work in Shreveport.
What is your current job title?
Welding Supervisor at Non-Stop Scaffolding
How long have you been welding?
Around 30 years total
What sparked your interest in welding?
College was out of the question for me. I was looking into vocational training at the time. Welding paid better than an office position and gave me the opportunity to work outside. I had always enjoyed working with my hands. After looking into it a little more I discovered that welding had a wide range of possibilities.
How and where did you learn to weld?
In 1978 I was in the first class at the brand new Job Corps facility in Shreveport, LA. The only girl in the class! I learned most of my trade on the job. In 2006 I went to Northwest Louisiana Technical College to brush up on TIG skills and get a few certifications I needed for a new job.
What type of welding do you use the most or feel more familiar with?
What welding jobs have you held?
I started out at Non-Stop Scaffolding in ’78 or ’79. The owner was great for giving me the chance with so little experience. In the mid ’80s I worked as a maintenance welder/Iron Worker on an Interstate 20 construction project. I then worked as a fabricator and welder for Industrial Blowpipe Company. I always seem to return to Non-Stop Scaffolding. We manufacture elevating scaffolding. I worked my way up from Production Line Welder to Head of the Welding Department.
When I started, welding was not considered “women’s work”. Most men thought I had no business on the job site or in the fab shop. I have dealt with a lot of chauvinistic behavior. In order to deal with it I became determined to be better at the job than they were. It worked! It still works!
Please share a career highlight or story of personal fulfillment.
Working my way into management with Non-Stop, the company I have spent the largest part of my career with, was a high spot for me. Doing this interview with Carmen Electrode is exciting too! There are no women welders in my circle to share these thoughts with. Thank you!
What advice would you give young women interested in welding as a career?
A woman going into welding has to be tough; there is no crying on the job site. Know the proper terminology for tools and processes. The fastest way to earn the respect you deserve is to be meticulous about your welds, and respect yourself first and foremost.
Women welders are more readily accepted in the workplace now. I have made a great living by welding and will hopefully continue to do so for another 15 or 20 years!
As always, if you or someone you know is a female metal fabricator doing some interesting work, email us at email@example.com with “New Rosies” in the subject line. We’d love to feature you on the blog!