You may be aware of the significant contributions of Rosie the Riveters, but you may not know that during World War II, working alongside Rosies in factories, shipyards and munitions plants was another essential group of women: Wendy the Welders.
In fact, during wartime, nearly 25 percent of U.S. welders were women – the largest percentage ever. Today, that number has dwindled to about 3.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which classifies welders with the related occupations of cutters, solderers and brazers.
That presents a problem. A recent study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 2.1 million manufacturing jobs – including welding positions – could go unfilled by 2030 because of a lack of skilled talent. The same study recommended that industry greatly expand efforts to recruit and retain women and other underrepresented groups as one of the best ways of bridging the skills gap.