The Women of Modern Welding
Women Taking Control & Building a Bridge to their
Six years after
the start of a deep recession and a growing call for more middle-class
manufacturing jobs, one American industry is tackling workforce
development in a unique way. Welding is courting fresh recruits—women
welders and "Flashdance" might come to mind.
The 1983 movie starred Jennifer Beals as a welder by day and
dancer by night.
But the industry has advanced beyond the bulky machinery depicted
in the film.
Modern welding techniques are highly specialized and can include
Shop floors are brighter and cleaner. Welders work on specialized
structures for the
marine and aerospace sectors, even on custom cars for reality
Despite cool projects, available
work is outpacing qualified tradespeople,
largely due to an aging workforce.
"Any metal shop you talk
to, they're desperate for good metal fabricators,"
said Scott Behr, owner of Total Metal Resource, based in Brooklyn,
Their work includes metal staircases and signage for the Colicchio
& Sons restaurant
and Chobani yogurt shop, both in Manhattan. "The reality
is, the guys who really
know what they're doing, with deep knowledge of what happens
are machinists, sheet metal workers and blacksmiths. And they're
said Behr, himself a 20-year welding veteran.
Of course, whether
men or women make better welders is debatable.
But both genders being equal, some women, it turns out, have
a knack for welding
which requires multiple proficiencies. An affinity for math
Artistic and spatial skills to conceptualize ideas. And maybe
just as important,
a temperament for precise work and hand-eye coordination.
"Women have steady hands and patience.
And those are two very important things in welding,
"said Becky Lorenz, a veteran professional welder and machinist.
a shortage of skilled workers and the pay is good
welding is a marvelous opportunity for young women," said
last year's welding society president. Only the second female
the group's 95-year history, Cole traveled to some 26 states
and 13 countries
in 2013 to stump for manufacturing and welding.
welding shops indeed were dangerous, dark and filled with
large equipment. But shops are safer, brighter and smoking-free.
Women don't need to lift 50 pounds: Robotic equipment can help,
still is demanding. But no two jobs are alike.
and being a petite female welder has its advantages.
At 5-foot-2, Lorenz is able to squeeze into confined spaces.
"It's crazy," said Lorenz, whose resume includes work
for the University of Maryland physics department
and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
"The American Welding Society
is looking to encourage more women to consider a career as a
especially as employers struggle to find enough qualified welders
to meet current demand." Read
Welders Universe...Women and
minorities managed to significantly expand their share of the
job pie during the 1990s. At that time, an impressive 20 percent
of the workforce was female, and 30 percent minorities... Read
From Car Problem to Welder... Read
Attention Woman: American Manufacturing
and Welding: We want you!!! Read
Articles on Welder Shortages withstanding and rapidly increasing
shortages in the next 3-5 years
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