Melting down stereotypes with welding

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- In a sea of black welding helmets, one looks a little different. It's just one way Jessica Carder stands out in a class full of men.

"I get a lot of older guys that are like, 'oh, why are you doing this? You're not a guy, you can't do that'...but it doesn't really matter what they think, it's what I want to do," Carder told KCBY.

Carder is one of only four girls in SWOCC's welding course, and she's the president of the American Welding Society chapter on campus.

The club hopes to raise money for students to get their Certified Weld Inspector certificates. They cannot become professional welders without them, and they can cost anywhere from $150 to $400.

"It makes me feel great to know that I can help the other kids in here and the other girls to really improve their skills and get out there and show everybody that we can do it too," Carder said.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, more jobs for welders are becoming available, and many are right here on the bay.

Instructor Tony LaPlante says the goal of the course is to get students these jobs, but he says it's not for everyone.

"You're talking packing steel, laying on your back welding and sparks are dripping down you and it's not for every girl by any stretch, but if they want to do it, there's no reason why they can't," LaPlante said.

Carder and LaPlante hope they'll see more pink welding helmets in factories and shipyards in the future.