Women in a Man's World
Friday, March 23, 2018
By: Shaina Johnson, Welding Instructor, CWI/CWE, Southeast Tech
Every small child is asked the infamous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Answers usually vary from policeman, teacher, fireman, etc. One answer is not common at all, especially with little girls, and that is, to be a welder. I think it’s time the world changes that.
Being a welder for a decade, I have acquired some fascinating tricks of the trade but, being a female welder I have acquired different tricks of this trade. I learned that being a woman in the welding world, I have to push myself to work harder and faster. I've learned to utilize my body more to compensate for my lack of upper body strength compared to my male counterparts. I have embraced that I may not be the most liked “guy” in the shop because I'm considered competition (no one wants to be shown up by a woman). And lastly, I've accepted the fact that I will always be considered the underdog. Sadly, only 6% of the welding workforce is made up of women, but it's slowly growing! When I first started here at Southeast Tech as an instructor, my female student population was nonexistent. This being my sixth year, I HAVE SIX FEMALE STUDENTS and I see their hunger for a satisfying challenge like I have.
With all of that being said, the industry is changing for the better of women. We're gradually gaining respect from our coworkers and industry leaders have recognized that women are naturally better welders than men are. Here are a few reasons as to why: great hand-eye coordination, multitasking, artistic approach, steadiness, detail-oriented, organized, and patience. Some employers seek women specifically for their natural skills listed above. Men have these qualities too, but they have to work at it, whereas for women it’s instinct.
At the end of the day, I have a lot of admiration for my fellow welding comrades out there in the industry, regardless of their gender. This a challenging field and not everyone is cut out for it.
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