Welding Merit Badge for Girl Scouts?

From Reuters to The Chicago Tribune and of course JoeWelder.com, the new welding merit badge for Boy Scouts has recently been in the news.  A collaboration between the American Welding Society (AWS), BSA Health and Safety Committee, and the national Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the new badge will introduce a new generation (of boys) to the welding industry. Boy Scouts will learn the fundamentals of welding and the different careers that are available within the industry.

The initiative will also help to fill the gap for the number of welders that will be needed in the upcoming years.

“By the end of the decade, it is estimated there will be a critical need for over 200,000 new and replacement welders in the United States,” said David Landon, vice president, American Welding Society. “The future of the welding industry depends upon preparing the next generation and that’s why AWS is really excited to work with the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts of America possess the leadership and values necessary to advance the productivity of the welding industry.”

But What About the Girl Scouts?

As we know here at CarmenElectrode.com (and Arc-Zone.com) it’s not brute strength that makes a good welder—it’s knowledge of metal, electricity, joint fit up, not to mention good hand/eye coordination and patience. Welders can earn about $45,000 per year to start, more if you have expertise in specialty metals like titanium or if you’re skilled in pipe welding. And those with an advanced degree like welding engineering can start at about $100,000 per year. In other words, welding is not only a viable career option for women, it’s a GREAT career option.

According to Monica Pfarr, AWS Corporate Director of Workforce Development, only 2% of the more than 450,000 welders in the United States are women, but she says, “We have not had any success in capturing the interest of the Girl Scouts in creating a badge for welding.”

My own contact with the Girl Scouts was uninspiring. I emailed external communications officer Michelle Tompkins inquiring about a welding badge, or for information on whether or not the Girl Scouts have programs to introduce girls to careers in the trades.  She answered that they do not have a welding badge, “….but we do have a make your own badge where someone could choose to do something with welding.”

That was it. As a former Girl Scout and frequent purchaser of Girl Scout cookies, I was a little disappointed.

While the Girls Scouts may not be adding a welding badge anytime soon, the AWS and the Gas & Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) recently began the Women of Gases and Welding Initiative. “The goal,” says Monica Pfarr, “is to enhance the industry images as it relates to women, disseminate educational and career information, and provide resources for networking, outreach, and support.”

While the Women in Gas and Welding Initiative website is still under construction, we will be on the look out for more information and will let you know how we all can participate.

In the meantime–I would encourage all welders to let the women in your life know about welding as a career!  The AWS has an online welding school locator, not to mention some great scholarships.

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