Like many other trades and work involving physical labor, welding is often seen as a male pursuit. While the vast majority of welders are men, there are women in the field, also. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.8% of a total 520,000 people employed in welding, soldering, and brazing in 2020 were women. Women were last a significant part of the welding workforce during World War Two when 25% of welders were women. Today, female welders may be fewer in number, but there is plenty happening to create equal opportunities for women in the field.
Women interested in the trade can seek out opportunities to train in vital welding skills. For example, the non-profit organization, Women Who Weld, provides welding training and support for women in the industry, among other things. Arc-Zone offers a site for women, sharing news and resources, highlighting empowering tradeswomen, and offering tips. Women in welding today often feel a great sense of camaraderie and togetherness because of the low numbers of women in the trade and the challenges that they can face.
Despite this, the number hasn’t changed much in the last few years. It has generally remained around 4-5% and hasn’t seen any significant increases. In fact, there has been a small drop in recent years. However, there is a global shortage of welders, and many people are hoping that women might help to fill the gap. The shortage is a result of several factors, including industry growth and an aging welding workforce. Projections suggest that over 375,000 welding professionals will be needed by 2023 to fill job openings in the US.
Women also have a way to go in terms of salary in the welding industry. The average salary for women who weld is $32,336, whereas the average salary for men is $46,616 – more than 44% more. Men in welding tend to be a few years younger on average, with the average male age 39 and average female age 42. With the rapidly aging workforce, there could be plenty of opportunities for younger women to make the move into technical fields. Some of the ways that women are being encouraged to take an interest are through women-only classes and courses and the growing prominence of several female welders. Women like Samantha Farr, the founder of Women Who Weld, YouYuber Barbie the Welder, and Jessi Combs, a television and off-road racing star, have been showing women the opportunity available to them in this evolving field.
Women are also being offered scholarships to help them into welding and low-cost or even free training or introductory workshops. Specific training programs for women can be found in several locations too, such as the Women in Welding program by Chicago Women in Trades, Latinas Welding Guild in Indianapolis, Weld Like a Girl in Arizona, and the nationwide Ironworker Women.
With a shortage of welders, there are huge opportunities for women to join the trade and show that women do belong in welding.