Women, Welding, and the Economy Over the Years

Welding in the 1940s

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In 1941, when the United States sent her men to war, literally millions of women stepped up and successfully filled those vacated work places in what were very non-traditional roles for them. Rosie the Riveter became the symbol of these women tackling jobs such as welding, running heavy machinery, and building equipment for the war effort. But then the war ended, and most women returned to their kitchens and more traditional roles, including in the job market. It may be time for today’s women to return to those non-traditional opportunities again, especially in fields like welding, where welding jobs could be good for both the country’s economy and an expanded idea of gender roles.

Welding In America Today

In America today there are less than 500,000 welders actively employed in their profession. Unfortunately, 50% of those workers are in their mid to late fifties and approaching retirement age. In fact, at this time there is a shortage in the welding labor force of as many as 200,000 people. Many believe that a very large part of our American economy is dependent upon the products that welders create and repair. The very economic stability of the United States may be tied into the ability to maintain adequate professionals in this field. Everyone knows that out-sourcing may raise short term profits, but in the long term it weakens the internal strength of a country, making it more dependent on the good will and resources of another government, not a wise place for a great country like the United States to find itself.

In today’s rather shaky economy, more and more women are finding themselves in the position of needing to be the family provider. Non-traditional jobs such as welding can offer a decent salary for the woman who is willing to learn the skills necessary and take her place in what has traditionally been a man’s world.

Because of the current shortage, many more companies are willing to hire certified and trained welders regardless of gender. Women who have worked in this profession confirm that their skills win them acceptance and respect in what might seem like an unorthodox work setting. In fact, their valuable hand-eye coordination, artistic approach, and steady arm are assets that make women a sought after commodity in some businesses. Women welders also tend to be more patient with tricky jobs and more dependable as employees.

Increasing Women’s Interest in Welding

Increasingly, high schools are offering incentives to attract young women into the welding profession, but to date, less than 6% of this workforce is female. For a relatively short time spent in welding training, a woman can gain entrance into a profession with long term earnings and benefits. Willingness to learn the necessary skills, to work hard and to get dirty each day are about all that is required to have a successful career in this non-traditional job field. Increasing the welding work pool in this way will definitely have a positive effect on this country as well.

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