Presented by American Welding Society’s Women in Welding Spotlight
Once upon a time in Arc-Zone’s Metal Mashup we featured a story from the American Welding Society which showcased seven amazing women in the welding industry.
From welding instructors and students to Presidents, NASA technicians and social media superstars, the AWS highlights fascinating women who share insight about the hardships and misfortune they face in order to overcome adversity and thrive in such a male dominated industry.
One of the most common misperceptions of the welding industry is that it’s dirty, which in most cases is true. But for Veronica Gonzalez, a welding technician at NASA, her welds must be clean with zero mistakes. And then there’s Ashley Webel, a certified welding inspector at Roman Engineering Services, who spends more time reading, doing paperwork and inspecting welds than getting her hands dirty. Ashley is proud to be a part of the welding industry but doesn’t think it gets the credit it deserves, saying, “Most people don’t realize how much welding impacts our lives and where we would be without it. The work that I do helps build everything from bridges and cars to bookshelves.”
I Love Welding
Each of these women are unique in their own way and have followed different paths but all have one thing in common; their love for the welding industry.
Take for example, Jenny McCall, the President of WESCO Gas and Welding Supply Inc., who grew up watching her father run a successful welding supply company but decided to go to college to pursue a career in business. After working in a different field, Jenny returned to her father’s company and not only runs it, but pushes her employees to learn as much as they can because “it takes a combination of individuals to make this industry work,” Jenny says. “You don’t have to be a welder to be in our field, there are so many different opportunities.”
When it comes to opportunities, welding instructor Amanda Scheffler would not be where she is today if it weren’t for seizing the opportunities granted to her. Amanda, who was offered a full ride scholarship to compete in welding, worked as a lab tech where she taught students the basics of welding. There, she discovered she loved teaching and couldn’t see herself doing anything else. She says, “I feel a sense of fulfillment teaching students how to strike an arc, control the fire and create/build things.”
Welding instructors might have one of the most influential jobs for those pursuing a career in the industry. Teaching up-and-comers the tricks of the trade is an important task, especially for those who only have trade school to lean on for assistance.
Welding is a Way of Life
Instructors may not know how important they are but students like Bobby Counts put everything into perspective. Bobby, who stays at the YWCA, an organization that helps women get back on their feet, was offered help through the Un-Traditional Jobs for Women Program to try something new. For Bobby, welding isn’t just a hobby or a way to share her creative talents, it gives her a chance to show her son that “it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman. If you make up your mind to go do something, you can go and do it! Just go for it and give it your all!”
Another student who enjoys proving it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female is Sydnee Brey, who accidentally fell in love with welding after her high school counselor suggested another course for credits. Although it can be a little intimidating as a woman in this type of field, Sydnee says, “If you’re good at it, you can do it. I don’t think of the whole male versus female thing. I just think if you can do the job, you should do it.”
Like most of the women featured in the AWS’s spotlight, Sydnee believes there are so many opportunities for work in this field. Not only can you learn to weld, you can teach, inspect and oversee it. It can be a hobby or a career.
American Welding Society
To learn more about welding, the AWS provides information for schools, job openings, and workshops across the globe. Plus, there are a ton of supportive women in the industry that offer tips, advice, motivation and empowerment to other women. Our Instagram is the perfect starting point to find those women. We also recommend checking out Women Who Weld, Woman And Machine, Stephanie Hoffman, who works directly with the AWS, and Cynthia Marie from Hot Steel Welding.
There are so many opportunities up for grabs here that will transform lives for the better. Take a chance, find your creative energy and learn one of the most important trades in the industry.