Breaking Barriers: Jo Beck

Posted on Jun 14, 2018

The world is changing. Gone are the days in which men were strongly encouraged to pursue careers in fields like in business, manufacturing, or technology, and women were strongly encouraged to pursue careers in fields like education or nursing. In today’s culture, you are free to pursue an education in a variety of career fields, regardless of your gender. You may even find yourself more successful and satisfied if you pursue a nontraditional career path based on your interests, skills, and abilities. These careers entail jobs in which less than 25% of the workforce is comprised of the nontraditional gender. Pursuing nontraditional careers can also lead to earning higher wages and additional opportunities for advancement.

We sat down with Jo Beck, current RVC student who is taking courses in Welding, to talk about her experience with majoring in a male dominated field.


What inspired you to study Welding?

It was time for me to find a new career and I knew from experience that I didn’t want to work at a desk. I like to build and fix things, and I had tried welding once or twice and liked it. In addition, the job opportunities and earning potential in welding appealed to me.


Welding is traditionally a male dominated field. Do you ever feel this is a benefit or a challenge?

Being a woman in a male-dominated field is always both an asset and a challenge. This isn’t my first foray into a male-dominated line of work. In the past, I have been recruited because I am female. I have also felt a lot of pressure to work harder and do better than my male peers. Instances that for a male would be written off as mistakes or the learning process, can for a woman be interpreted as being because she’s a woman. And for people who have never encountered a woman in a given line of work, she becomes representative of all women in that career. That’s a lot of pressure, especially when you are just starting out. I have yet to see how this applies in welding.


What do you enjoy most about the Welding program at RVC?

I think the professors are the best part of the program. In each of my classes, they have made a point of getting to know me and my goals. They have given a lot of insight on where to go from here, how to get started. Everyone has been willing to go above and beyond to help me succeed.


What advice would you give others who are nervous about choosing a major/career in a field, such as Welding, that is dominated by males?

Who has traditionally held certain jobs shouldn’t be a factor for anyone choosing a line of work. You’re the one who has to wake up in the morning and show up to that job every day. Find a job where that reality appeals to you.


Do you plan on transferring after RVC or starting your career after graduation?

I hope to find a job or apprenticeship when I finish at RVC. There are far more career paths involving welding than I knew when I started. It’s daunting and exciting. I’d love to find work either TIG welding or to get an apprenticeship as an iron worker. Depending on how things go in the fall, there are a few more classes I’d like to take just to keep learning.

Learn more about Rock Valley College’s Welding program.