We first “met” Lena in 2019 over Facebook Messenger. She reached out to our parent company, Arc-Zone.com® with a couple photos of her fantastic welds. It’s been a year in the making and we’re excited to finally share her journey from first time welder to advocate for women in the welding industry!
Why and when did you start welding?
It was my sophomore year in high school, the year of 2016. There was a career tech field day and I signed up to tour the welding program. When the day came, I met the teacher and he allowed us students to weld and get the feel of it. I put a hood on, I picked up that gun and I laid down my first weld ever. As soon as I seen that spark, I fell in love with welding. Watching that puddle fill up was so satisfying to me. I lifted up my hood and I was told that I was the best student to weld there out of all the other schools that visited the program as well. Being the only girl there, I felt so good about myself for knowing I blew all of the boys out of the water. Welding came naturally to me. It is a skill I am thankful to have.
What’s your favorite thing about welding?
My favorite part about welding is when I finish a project. I step back and I look at what I just built. I think to myself, “Wow, I really just built/made that”, “Wow, my welds really look like that”, “Wow, I am really proud of myself and proud of what I can do.” I love the feeling that welding gives me. It gives me so much confidence. I love hearing all of the great comments coming back to me on how great my welds are and how proud people are of me. My parents, they are very proud of me and nothing else makes me any happier than that.
Tell us more about your parents…
My parents are my role models with no question to it. They have been there with me since day one and have never gave up on me. They are the ones who motivate me and push me to be the best I can be. They know my dreams, helped me chase them and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. They own a landscape company, so whenever something needs welded I am there to help them. This is my favorite because I enjoy helping others in time of need plus I am able to help using a trade/skill of mine and show what I can do.
How do you learn new welding skills?
I believe that you can never know enough! I learn new welding skills every day especially at work. I love to take all the advice and knowledge I can from elders around me. I also like to look up welding videos on my free time to learn as much as I can.
What’s the hardest thing about being a woman in the welding industry?
I would say that the people around you is the hardest part about being a woman welder. This is a “man’s job”. Well in my eyes, it’s not. If this were a man’s job, then I wouldn’t be here rocking it right now. When I first started welding at school, the boys in my class tried saying “girls can’t weld”, “you’re too weak for this job”, “you won’t get certified”. I didn’t let anyone’ words stop me from doing what I love. I ended up being the best welder in my class and the first to get certified. Then I got a job for early placement and it was a completely different environment. Guys saw me as a toy and some would say very inappropriate things to me. It made me feel very uncomfortable, but I learned that I can’t let anyone get in the way of the career that I love. I learned to not take any ones rubbish and not to let any one mess with me.
Anything else welding related that you’d like people to know about you?
Welding is a big part of who I am. It helps define Lena Dotson. I just want people to know how passionate I am about welding and want to help encourage other females out there who are too afraid to stay in this trade or even to give it a try. I hope to make an impact on others lives the way that my parents did mine.
To learn more about Lena and see how she’s impacting the industry, follow her on Instagram!