Welding class for women at Surry Community College

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DOBSON, N.C. -- It’s hot and it can be physically demanding, but more women are discovering they love it.

For so long, welding has been viewed as a man’s profession, but Surry Community College is taking an extra step to do away with that idea.

“It’s just a mentality that’s been taught over the years and we want to break that down,” lead welding instructor Michael Dixon said.

The school is now offering Welding for Women – a course exclusively for women taught by a female instructor.

“I wanted to have a female instructor for them, so that there’s no problem with them coming in and thinking that they’ve got to compete with the men, whether that’s psychological or not,” Dixon said.

Robin Haas, who earned her welding certificate from the school last December, is teaching the course.

“I can see these other no fear sisters that are coming in and wanting to tame this, and it’s exciting. I love to see that,” she said.

Part of the reason why the school says this kind of course is necessary is because women are welcomed and wanted in the industry, but there is a concern that stereotypes deter women from exploring these opportunities.

“That’s what a lot of women think, is that it’s just a man’s world,” Michelle Kirkman said.

Kirkman is currently a student in a program with male peers and is the only female student in her classes.

Despite her initial fear that she would experience prejudice, she says her male peers have been nothing but kind and supportive.

However, Kirkman thinks the new women’s only course will help break stereotypes.

The overall hope is that this class will be the beginning of filling a huge gap in the marketplace.

“As far as women go, there’s only three percent industry-wide in North America,” Dixon said.

Susanna Minter went through a previous welding program at Surry Community College and supports the course specifically targeting women.

She is preparing to join the military as an allied trade specialist.

“I can take what I’ve learned here and apply it to a real word situation and what better way than to serve the Army,” she said.

The Welding for Women course is offered on Mondays through Dec. 4 from 6 to 10 p.m.

The course is also going to be offered in the spring.

For more information, call (336) 386-3637 or visit surry.edu.

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