Women in Welding: A chat with Jenn
Recently we spoke to Jenn, a hobbyist welder that uses Instagram as one of her many outlets to inspire people. In her own words, she melts metal and grows people and plants. Let’s learn more...
Hey Jenn, it’s great to speak to you! Where in the world are you right now?
I’m currently living in San Diego with my daughter Rowan.
You’ve worked in some typically ‘male-oriented’ jobs. Tell us a bit more about them!
I worked with an awesome firefighting crew for a few years. It’s my dream to be a smokejumper - they’re elite firefighters, the best of the best - and although I’m not firefighting now, it’s still one of my ultimate goals to train and become one.
After that, I got a job as a landscape foreman and I had to really learn how to be assertive and confident in myself. When you’re a 20 something-year-old woman having to tell a bunch of older guys what to do, you’ve gotta expect some challenges. I’m currently working as a horticulturist, tending for plants and helping people create their dream garden.
Has it ever been challenging working primarily with men?
Yeah, I mean, to work in these types of environments you need to be prepared for locker room talk and be comfortable with it. You’ve also gotta make your boundaries clear. I take pride in my body and how I look - I like to be fit and healthy and look good - and sometimes I’ve had comments about that.
Some men have an attitude that a woman can’t do as good a job as a guy and the environment can sometimes be hostile. It can be doubly difficult to get stuff done, especially when you have high standards as I do! That’s why sticking to your guns and standing your ground is so important - as is being confident in yourself and what you’re saying.
What would you say to women that are in challenging, majority male environments?
Stand your ground, be assertive, set your boundaries and stick to them! Gender doesn’t matter, it’s your whole intention that’s important. Believe in yourself. You are a badass!
How do you deal with stress?
For me, physical labor and using my body is a real outlet for frustration and personal struggles. I like to throw myself into whatever I’m doing and physical work gives me a feeling of power.
How did you get into welding?
My boyfriend is a metal fabricator. One day, I went to work with him and was introduced to MIG welding. I love it! Being able to melt metal and create...anything is really fascinating. The heat and the molten metal and the strength you need to pull it off - it’s great!
What do you like about welding?
Welding builds the bones of society, from buildings and machinery to equipment and artwork. Being able to contribute to that is awesome. Welding is a true art, it’s the alchemy of metal and that really fascinates me. It’s become a favorite hobby of mine, I love being able to go to the workshop and practice MIG welding. I want to build my skills and progress onto TIG welding eventually.
Do you think you’ll end up with a career in welding?
Yeah, maybe one day! For the moment I’m very much a hobbyist and just welding when I have time. What has surprised me is how many women there aren’t in welding! It’s such incredible skill, and so critical for society, that it’s become a mission of mine to get more women into welding. I look up to any woman that’s already in the industry - they’re total badasses!
For me, welding also represents the struggle that many women in society face: getting respect for their hard work. In the end, gender doesn’t matter - it’s what we can deliver that counts. Which is why you need to be true to yourself and your work. You can tell that’s really important to me!
What’s your outlook on life?
I’m all about empowering your internal badassery! You owe it to yourself to be positive and give your all in everything you do. Negative energy brings you down - so set the vibe, don’t follow it!
I believe the way we handle life’s challenges paves the path for the future. If you give up and let life beat you down, you’re gonna get stuck in that rut. I’ve been there, and it’s really hard to overcome, but each experience leads to us being stronger, more well-rounded individuals - as long as we let them.
Self-belief is so important for getting the best out of life - I’ve learned that the hard way.
“We have the light within ourselves. It’s down to us to let it shine.”
How has becoming a mother changed your perspective?
Because I’m a single mom it can be tough to be a strong female figure while also retaining a sense of self and being an individual. I want to teach my daughter that it’s what you put into a life that counts, that hard work and dedication pays off. I want to show her how awesome and exciting it is to be a strong woman. I’m doing my best to set an example to her and teach her to follow her passion, regardless of any stigmas.
And on that inspirational note, our conversation comes to a close. I leave the call beaming - Jenn’s energy and positivity are infectious! Follow her on Instagram: @green.dream to get your dose of inspiration.