Welding has been tagged as “male dominated profession”.
Reasons behind this myth is because welding is perceived as high risk, dangerous and dirty work. In another breath, welding is thus perceived to be for the school-drop-out, and has no career progression, and a less paid profession. In contrast, it will shock you to know that the skilled, clever, adventurous, bold and beautiful persons most often opt for careers in welding.
One could rise from a welder status to become a professor in welding or materials sciences and engineering. Starting your career in welding as a welder is not demeaning, but rather charting a successful career path.
Global statistics on female participation in welding is unavailable. The unavailability of such data could be because of the low rate of participation of females in welding.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, females in welding as at 2018 accounted for only 5 % in the USA. Notwithstanding, the number of females participation in welding in current times is increasing as observed.
This tread is partly due to innovation and policy reforms, thus, making welding a secured and lifelong profession, more attractive and fulfilling with high paid salaries.
Working as a welding engineering professional has exposed me to several female welders.
In Canada, I worked with a steel fabrication and welding company.
The company employed females for most of its pipe welding jobs. I happened to ask why females were mostly hired for such tasked. It was fascinating to discover that females were much better in welding because of their accuracy, stable hand whiles welding, paying attention to details and compliance to quality.
It was not surprising that in the division I worked, the workshop supervisor was a female. Being curious, I approached some of the female welders to inquire their interest in welding and why they chose such profession.
Despite the high wages they earned and the job security, they were bold to say that they loved working with their hands and that makes them women!
Interviewing my female supervisor was astonishing. Her response to my question why she chose welding as a profession was simple – “in my home my husband controls, but at work I control”.
Her passion for her work cannot be compromised and she loved her work. She was so good at her work that she could do structural welding, pipe-fitting and welding as well as welding of pressure vessels.
Such testimonies were not much different from female welders in Finland I interacted with. However, in Finland, females progress faster from being a welder to quality control supervisor then to welding inspector, welding specialist then finally to become a welding engineer. Interesting, most welding engineers in Finland are researchers and professors in both academia and industry.
The case of Katja Vironen, “a welder” also excites me much. When Katja picked up the torch for the first time and started welding, her whole life changed, as she claimed.
She said “for the first time in my life, I was doing something I enjoyed. I quickly learned the different techniques and welding became easy to me. I started welding with KEMPPI MasterTig. I have lots of memories of it and it is still a good machine. I prefer TIG and MMA welding. With MasterTig and MasterTig MLS machines, I can do both welding processes.”
“Even after many years, there is always something magical about the electric arc. I have always been restless, but when I grab the welding torch, I calm down. And the more challenging the welding job is, the easier it is for me to focus”, she added.
In Ghana, the female welders I have interacted with are very skillful, energetic, creative and ambitious. It was amazing to discover that one of them has been working both onshore (on tank farm projects) and offshore (on the rigs).
Although the number of female welders available in Ghana is few, as everywhere in the world, both public and private institutions in the nation need to lead the way by creating groundbreaking approaches for more females to venture into the welding profession.
Some of the approaches which could be introduced include simulators and robotics in welding education and skills training. Having such systems that are based on augmented reality and adaptive technologies make welding interesting and more motivating.
Our females can commence their careers in welding through virtual means, and then move on to do the real welding, progress to become semi-automatic and automatic welding machine operators, robotic welding operators then enhance their skills and knowledge to become welding instructors, etc.
Ghana holds huge potentials for female welders, and job prospects are vast in diverse industries such as welding, construction and manufacturing, oil and gas, infrastructure, and shipbuilding.
Also, jobs that can be created in other industries like agribusiness, automobile, energy, and sanitation are enormous.
For career progression in welding, one can start as a welder, and with minimum work experiences and by taking professional welding courses accredited to international standards could advance to become a welding inspector or welding engineer.
Creating sustainable skilled jobs and careers for the youth, especially females is now. With females at the centre of gender inequality, dedicated efforts need to be made to usher females in Ghana into the welding profession and for them to grab lucrative job opportunities both domestic and abroad.
A lot of females in Ghana are on the streets hustling as head potters (Kayayee) or selling ice water or engaging in “open commercial sex trades” (the slay queen paradigm). If Ghana government is on the verge of building several TVET institutions and the private sector is supplementing such initiative, surely, Ghanaians want to see more females entering skilled professions like welding than before.
Train a male to weld, and he could weld a product but train a female to weld and she could weld the hearts of the nation together.
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