Before the close of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take a few moments to spotlight women that work for IMI. Today, we are introducing Melissa.  She works as a welder in our structural fabrication shop.  Here is what Melissa had to say about being a woman working in a traditionally male dominated field:

What were your reasons/motivation for becoming a welder? Welding speaks to my talents and truly my soul on a lot of levels. My science background helps me understand the physics, chemistry, and mathematics that enforce the rules of the materials and what we can do with them. The art background supports my steady hand and eye for symmetry and balance. I was born with a natural and incessant desire to build and create. Plus, I’m a farm girl who likes hard labor, being dirty, and tools. But ultimately, the first time I picked up a torch, everything was over. My heart lit up brighter than that flame, and I haven’t been able to get enough of it since.

What have been some obstacles that you have encountered as a woman in the workplace?  I believe the only true obstacle to being a woman in my field is fear. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of not being capable. Fear of what people will think. All of which unfortunately formulates a cohesive attitude for women towards trades jobs of ‘I don’t belong there.’ I think it holds women back from following their true callings in more than just the blue-collar world. But my gender has nothing to do with my ability to solve problems and stitch metal. And I pick up the heavy stuff the same as the big boys do- with forklifts and cranes; I even get scouted for jobs they can’t do because of my ability to fit into spaces they cannot!

Melissa poses for a portrait wearing a red bandana, blue long sleeve shirt, and black overalls. She is sitting & has pink painted fingernails.
Melissa wearing a welding hood, long sleeve blue shirt, and dark overalls. She is mimicking welding for the photo.

Where would you like to see your career with IMI, or in the field in general, go from here?   My inner child would like my career to lead me to a round or two on a Monster Jam pit crew. Or build roller coasters. My higher self is hungry and competitive and simply desires to be the best. But I have only been welding professionally for around 10 months, so it’s safe to say I’m still green and have only begun to scratch the surface of becoming a truly competent welder. That’s a great thing about this company- from my experience, everyone has been open and willing to teach me the right way to do things and tolerates my constant questions and inevitable mistakes. I am the only girl out here, and I know the guys were curious at first, but when everyone realizes I’m just one of them and happen to be a girl, everything sort of clicks. They are all great and I genuinely like them, and I think they genuinely like me too.

Any words of advice for young ladies that might want to take up welding?  Or working in a male-dominated field?   My words of advice to other women are to trust yourself and don’t let something as silly as fear hold you back from being who you are called to be. Nothing is more empowering than acknowledging something in the way of your true self that scares you, looking that anxiety dead in the eye, kicking your fear right in the teeth and overcoming something that held you captive. If you’re not doing the thing that lights your heart on fire, you are wasting your precious time.  PS – if what you want to do is weld- grab a stinger and come on! We would truly love to have you!