Kathleen Boyle Kennedy, Retired Welder, USA
What made you choose welding as a career, which is a highly male dominated segment?
Initially, I was into the welding of ornamental plant and pot holders. One fine day, my brother informed me that locally 230 plumbers and pipefitters were hired on apprentices. This incident took place during 1974, after the law in US was passed for apprentice. Thus, I too applied for the pass, and luckily I was able to succeed in almost all the tests. I was rated 2nd in the eye hand coordination test w/200. My motive was to earn, inorder to support myself and family.
Could you brief us on your journey so far into welding?
Currently I am at the age of 64, and a retired female Welder. But my passion for welding is still the same. I have not given up. I am now welding boot racks, just to keep me connected with welding. During my welding journey, I was a welding teacher, along with an experience of practical welding on sites. I am a certified MIG, TIG, STICK and gas welding.
Could you quickly take us to your qualification background?
I hold 4 years college accredited degree in the piping trades. I served 4 years apprenticeship program and graduated.
Any welding processes you specialize into?
I believe my best work is w/heliarc, TIG and MIG welding. I can weld almost all the phases. I have my own cutting rig.
Could you please share your experience of some of the mega project you worked upon?
Welding for a nuclear powerhouse is among the mega projects. I have welded SS Pipes for nuclear power projects. I have also done structural welding, w/stick welding using both 6010 and 7018 series rods depending on the job. I can also handle welding stick w/, the largest rod. And my currently project is of welding the boot racks, and lawn art projects. I am also designing and making ornamental small hen houses.
When on site, what are the key points you follow during welding for any project?
The most important point, I always consider is Safety on Site.
What is your say on health and safety in welding?
Health and safety is one of the important aspects for welders. I never miss to use any of my safety equipments when on job. Welding is an interested and a risky work, and a welder have to first consider safety, and it’s only after that, you can offer better results.
What kind of challenges did you come across and how do you manage to cope up with the same? Have you anytime faced gender discrimination on site, as the stream is male dominated?
Gender discrimination was always a challenge. Accepting a woman as a welder was indigestible, but there was no other choice, as during my time, there was an acute shortage of skilled welders. There was a project of drilling oil and gas pipelines. The project wanted welders, and I could fit in the criteria.
When I started welding, a female welder was not so common, just the way we find it now. I feel proud to see more and more female entering into welding as a career. If a woman is a good welder, and wants to be a welder, she will have no problems on job, as the employer always look for good welders. It does take a lot of time, efforts and practice to become a good welder. But do not give up. In fact, I believe, that a woman welder often welds better than most of the men, especially the heliarc welding. Best of luck to all the WOMEN WELDERS.