Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive October 2014 Show 1440 Sparking a Change and Breaking Traditions

Sparking a Change and Breaking Traditions

Women are breaking tradition and choosing career paths in construction trades that men have dominated for years.
Sparking a Change and Breaking Traditions

Sparking a Change and Breaking Traditions

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Kiamichi Technology Center

Tri County Technology Center

Show Details

Show 1440: Sparking a Change and Breaking Traditions
Air Date: October 5, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, females make up a very small percentage of the construction trades. Yet there are those whose career pathway are taking that road less traveled. Joining me now is our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: That’s right, Rob. For women going into a career like construction, or welding, it’s a nontraditional field to say the least. But for those who do, it’s a road they can’t wait to travel down. Pulling up in a truck she rebuilt with her dad, Cheyenne Bailey is a girl who does things a little differently, including her choice of career, which her mom blames on her dad.

Cheyenne Bailey: Well, my dad taught me everything that I know. He’s the reason that I’m here at Kiamichi and trying to get my welding certificate. And I think after I finish here I’m going to go weld for him for a little bit and see where that takes me.

Alisa: And don’t even think about telling her she can’t do it.

Cheyenne: Everyone always tells me, you know, you’re a girl. You can’t weld, or you shouldn’t do this, or you can’t do that. But I do my best to prove them wrong.

Alisa: And it’s that kind of attitude that keeps her doing what she loves, welding.

Cheyenne: You get to build stuff. I mean, if I want to build a deer stand or build a gun rack or something, a rack for the four-wheeler, you can do anything with it. You can build anything. If you can think it, you can build it. And with welding it’s just like you know the possibilities are endless, because if you’ve got metal you can make whatever you want.

Alisa: Now, her welding instructor, Dennis Thomas, says Cheyenne is definitely a go-getter and success is in her future.

Dennis Thomas: She does not hesitate a lick. I mean, she’s always very attentive in class, she’s very attentive out in the shop, and she never really has a dull moment. I think the future is going to be very bright for her. I think I can probably see Cheyenne welding in the trades a couple of years, going on to college and then probably going to a higher level, maybe construction management. I would like to see her go into welding engineering.

Alisa: But Cheyenne is not alone. At Tri-County Tech Center in Bartlesville, welding instructor Scott Sutherland says females are an important part of his class.

Scott Sutherland: We actually recruit in a lot of different places around. And, you know, I don’t, I have three daughters myself so I try and encourage the girls to go out there and do that kind of stuff. Actually girls make better welders than boys anyhow.

Alisa: And for student Monica Wiersig, another female is one of the reasons she’s taking Scott’s class.

Monica Wiersig: I’m a single mom, and one of the only single moms that I knew growing up was a welder. And she started that back in the 1980s. And I met him, and we hit it off, great friends, and they went all over the world. He knows seven different languages, and I wanted the same opportunity for my son. So when I got the opportunity to come to school, welding was an option, and that’s what I chose.

Alisa: While Monica likes all aspects of welding, what really appeals to her is the ability to show off her mastery of the craft.

Monica: It’s very creative. It’s all your own technique and what you take from it. In the end it all ends up the same, it’s all weld. But it lets you be you and kind of show your own artistic ability in it.

Alisa: And when you ask Monica where she would like to go in the future.

Monica: Anywhere and everywhere. Wherever it will take me. I want to travel, be it in the United States or outside of the United States, all over the world. I just want to travel and see what everything is out there to do.

Alisa: So don’t stand in the way of these girls because they are on fire to do what they love. Now, Cheyenne recently won the Breaking Traditions Award at the 2013 SkillsUSA convention. And incidentally, Rob, she is also a volunteer firefighter and sometimes rides along with an EMS team. And she likes it so much that right now it’s a toss-up between volunteer firefighting and welding.

Rob: So how much can someone coming out of a welding program like this, how much can they expect to earn?

Alisa: Well, it really depends on the job. But they can earn anywhere between $18 and $30 an hour. And currently welders are in high demand.

Rob: They certainly are. Thank you so much, Alisa.

Alisa: You’re welcome, Rob.