Welding group aims to empower women

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis nonprofit group founded by a Latina welder is offering training workshops to help others long underrepresented in the filed venture into welding.

Consuelo Poland, 31, was the only woman and the only woman of color in her class when she got a welding certificate seven years ago in Michigan. In 2017, she founded the Latinas Welding Guild, a nonprofit organization in Indianapolis with the goal of using welding to empower Latinas and all women.

Through donations and scholarships, Poland's program, where she is the instructor, is able to feature welding workshops where the students have a chance to build career development skills through advocacy and mentorship, according to The Indianapolis Star. They also learn how to navigate the welding industry, “which they wouldn't typically get in a classroom-setting.”

The women taking part in that effort range in age from their 20s to their 60s. Many are mothers who are trying to find better career opportunities, seeking to run their own business or enter the workforce.

“From my personal experience of joining the welding industry as a woman and trying to enter a creative world and then also trying to survive in a white world, I know I would have liked to have more support,” Poland said. “That’s why it is so important that we are inclusive and that we have women from all backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and education levels.”

Born in Guatemala, Poland was adopted by American parents and raised in a largely white Michigan community.

Since her nonprofit was founded, the organization has helped nearly two dozen women in Indianapolis obtain welding certifications.

Poland said when she founded the organization, she wanted to focus on partnering with people and organizations in Indianapolis that would typically fall through the cracks.

The program is designed to help low to moderate-income women get their welding certification. The classes cover the basics of metallurgy, welding, and fabrication.

Future classes will likely be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic but still encourages those interested to apply, Poland said.

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