“It was a total accident that I found a love for welding. I trace it back to a metalsmithing class in undergrad. I was still thinking about metal years later, but when I transferred to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I found that all the metalsmithing classes were full. The only other way into metalworking was a class about building a furnace for pouring iron. It was a big leap, but that’s where I got acquainted with the large machines and tools, as well as welding. Thankfully a few patient students and professors—now some of my good friends—helped me understand the basics of those tools. I went from working on jewelry on a very small scale to the opposite end of the spectrum. I still make some jewelry, but welding big stuff is my jam.
Welding is empowering. It forces you to consider the physics of moving heavy steel, while often navigating confined spaces. You have to be clever, independent and you have to trust yourself. There’s a grittiness to welding that comes with the territory, and you have to be adaptable to do the work. I’m not afraid to stand on the table to find a more precise position to weld.
Females in traditionally male-dominated fields have to be double tough. I know several other women who weld, and they all have a story about how they have to work extra hard just to earn the respect of their male counterparts. For my master’s thesis, I wrote a small handbook on how to become a female metalworker, and I got to interview some of these badass women welders, fabricators and sculptors. You might think that female welders sit around and chat about their experiences as women in these fields, but that’s not really the case. These interviews were the first time I heard their stories of struggle, which inevitably led to triumph because they chose to ignore the negative commentary and just get the job done. For some of the more competitive women, they let those comments fuel their fire to complete the work.
For anyone looking to get into welding, I’d say just go for it. For women, there’s a unspoken required tenacity. Depending on the shop leadership, there could be a bit more to deal with than just completing projects. A few guys discouraged me from learning how to weld because of the potential danger of electric shock or burns. I let the idea of getting shocked sink in so much that I believed it was more dangerous than it really is. Nonetheless, you still have to be careful around the equipment and always pay attention to your surroundings. In the end, having some of that fear rewards you to do everything right and safely.” -Jen Mosier
“I’ve heard so many women say they are afraid of welding, and I wish that wasn’t the case. Depending on the project, welding can be quite straightforward. Granted, there’s more to know about welding than just how to wear the gear and turn on the machine. There’s a technical side which involves clamping and building jigs, which is where things start to get interesting. Everyone should know there is a high level of satisfaction in working with metal and shaping it into something functional” -Jen Mosier
Don’t miss out on the Lady Welder’s Handbook Jen put together.