Barbie Parsons was fascinated by the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, but she was not drawn to the story of survival, nor character played by Tom Hanks, but rather with the woman welding giant angel wings at the beginning of the movie. She said to herself, “I would love to do that!” And for the last seven years that’s exactly what she’s been doing.
We asked Barbie to share her story with us, and here’s what she says:
What excites you about welding?:
I love the art side of welding, the custom fabrication. I love that I can imagine something and then create it. I love that there is always something to learn.
I MIG and TIG stainless, steel and aluminum. I can also set up and run a spot welder. (does this count?!!)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! it all counts!
How did you train?:
I went to a local BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) and trained for six months in an adult education class for welding in Elmira, New York. This was only 104 hours over the course of that time. After I graduated I went to work for a local custom fabrication shop. I learned more in the first week working there than in the whole six months at school. Most of what I know was taught to me on the job by my coworkers.
What kind of welding jobs have you held?:
I have held two welding jobs. One as a welder/fabricator at a local custom fabrication shop and now as owner of my own custom fabrication shop.
Have you experienced discrimination as a woman welder? if YES how have you handled it? if NO, why do you think that is?:
I worked as an auto mechanic for 8 years and dealt with a lot of discrimination. I expected the same in the welding field when I first started but was treated with respect by every welder I worked with and get treated like an equal by every welder I have met. I believe that every welder knows what a tough and demanding job it is and has respect for any man or woman who works as one.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self?:
Believe in yourself. Always work hard, it’s not always easy but it will be worth it.
What advice would you give young women interested in welding as a career?:
Follow your heart. If you are interested in welding then do it! There are so many opportunities in welding, so many different things you can do in the field.
Any thing else you’d like to add?:
I was amazed to find that I am not the only woman welder out there. I was the only woman at the company I worked for and after 7 years in the field have only met one other woman welder. I love to see all the groups of woman welders out there. I am so proud to see all my beautiful welding sisters!
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Barbie has also started her own t-shirt company, Dirtrocker Nation. She says, “After being frustrated not being able to find any great welding shirts for me to burn up I started my own t-shirt company. It is a blue collar brand for the working woman and man and has great funny t-shirts for welders!”
To connect with Barbie online, visit https://www.facebook.com/WonderlandWelding
And remember, Arc-Zone.com wants to share YOUR story!