As the demand for welders continues to grow, so does the number of women interested in entering the industry.
This semester, the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College’s Brownwood campus saw not only a rise in enrollment as a whole, but also a spike in female welding students.
“We have three women in our welding program. As far as I can remember, that is the most we have had in the program at one time,” Raquel Mata, associate provost, said. “People are starting to see that welding is not just a guy’s job, and it’s opening doors for others to see they can enter other fields that are typically male-dominated. This is great momentum, and we hope to continue to see more.”
TSTC student Patricia Merano of Comanche, Texas, says she chose welding because she prefers a job with more physical activity than a desk job would provide.
“I’ve always liked working with my hands, and I don't want to be stuck at a desk. So I decided to go for it,” Merano said.
Merano had no previous welding experience before coming to TSTC but says it was her grandfather who inspired her.
“My grandpa is a welder, and he is really proud of me for doing this,” Merano said.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released in 2016, women make up only 4.1 percent of welding, soldering and brazing workers.
TSTC welding instructor Robert Whitley says he is surprised that more women have not already entered the industry.
“I’ve worked with many women welders who could weld circles around some of the guys,” Whitley said. “It's unfortunate that there seems to be a stigma about women in welding, but they can definitely do it. And I hope to see more women enroll in our program in the future.”
Both Merano and Whitley encourage anyone interested in welding to explore the program.
“Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. Just go for it,” Merano said.
For more information about TSTC, go online at tstc.edu.