ST. PAUL, Minn. — Even though women make up only about 5% of the welding workforce and are still in the minority in the rest of welding world globally, they still play a key role in the industry. With older workers retiring and younger people opting for jobs outside of manufacturing and labor, the number of women entering apprenticeship jobs in manufacturing professions is actually on the rise. Let’s meet some of the female safety leaders in this dynamic and hands-on field.
Meet Jennie Hallestam – Welding Teacher
Take for instance, Jennie Hallestam from Stockholm. After enrolling in a welding course, Jennie worked intensively for two and a half years as an apprentice to master her craft. Once she completed this training, she then got her first job as a welder. She has since obtained both her International Welder (IW) and International Welder Specialist (IWS) diplomas.
Jennie took this training and experience and became a welding instructor. She has the following tips for other women in the welding trade:
- “Be open and look at what talented welders are doing. Make use of their know-how and suggestions, as there is so much we can learn from each other.”
- “Learn the theoretical side of welding, as this will help you understand how different materials and gases work. Although theory might feel a little heavy in the beginning, give it a chance, as it will help make you a better welder and pay off in the long run.”
- “Be curious! New things are constantly happening within the welding field. Speak to other welders, read welding magazines and never stop developing.”
Hallestam says she’s been well received in this traditionally male profession and adds that she loves her job. She emphasizes safety to all her welding students from day one. “We always wear gloves, safety clothes and helmets and the first day is often a big adjustment for the new students,” she says. “But when they realize that we take their safety seriously, they are very appreciative.” Jennie uses a host of 3M products to help protect her while on the job, including a 3M™ Speedglas™ SL Welding Helmet.
Learn more about Jennie, her interesting background and how she got into welding by reading her story.
Meet Kristina Magnusson – Master of Optics for Welding at 3M
Although welding is often called challenging and exciting by the people who pursue it, it is also dangerous, especially for those who are new to the profession. It requires multiple types of personal protective equipment (PPE). And, there is always a push to improve this PPE, including the optical quality and protection to help support welders in their work.
Enter Kristina Magnusson, a Senior Optics Specialist from the 3M Personal Safety Division. Kristina and her team are working on improving and developing an optical solution that diminishes the glare from welding fumes or reflections. This ADF natural color technology can also help you see your weld puddle better in certain applications and is now available to help men and women welders.
Kristina is also leading an international ISO task group made up of experts focusing on automatic welding darkening filters (ADF) within eye and face protection standards. “I’m very much involved in the standardization of eye protection,” she says. “We need to make sure that the welding helmets help provide protection against radiation and the ISO group takes all aspects of this into account when establishing standards.”
Kristina is committed to helping find more ways to protect welders. “You never know what new technologies will bring,” Magnusson says with enthusiasm. To read more about her work to help welders, read the full story here.
Helping Women Welders Stay Comfortable and Protected
Moreover, customer feedback is important since welders spend so much time inside their helmets. It is critical to reinvent products to better meet your needs. For instance, there are welding helmets that are lighter weight. The slimmer profile can help you weld in tighter spaces. This can be very useful for women apprentice welders who may find a lighter helmet more comfortable, especially when they may be asked to weld in tighter spaces because of their size, as well as opportunity to gain more experience in different environments during apprenticeship. To learn more and enter for a chance to win one of ten of these types of welding helmets given away every quarter, please visit 3m.com/speedglasnc.
There are also welding helmets for women that offer distinct and stunning designs that affirm the rightful place of women welders as committed, passionate professionals. The patterns on these welding helmets also represent women welders’ attention to detail and help bring their personality forward while offering the same level of protection as some other welding helmets.
We salute women in the welding profession and support Women in Apprenticeship Day, which is part of National Apprenticeship Week. This U.S. Department of Labor program promotes the “benefits of apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.” This includes women professionals at every level of the manufacturing, construction and other industries who thrive on the challenges and need for creative thinking that these arenas, including welding, present.
As Jennie Hallestam puts it, “Don’t forget to have fun and be proud of what you do. Welding lets you put your own stamp on things so be careful, do a good job and have fun. You are making something that can last forever.”