I originally set out to write on "the development of women blacksmiths and welders from the 18th Century and how their workwear accentuated their femininity before later developing into utilitarian dress that we know today, and how fashion-derived workwear could be worn without undermining the ability of women to be perceived as first-class welders" but my Dissertation Tutor said that was impossible!
As my Tutor is a man, and has never been a welder, I was disappointed to say the least. But he pointed out that it was simply too big to cover in 7500 words, that it lacked academic focus, and that there probably was insufficient academic secondary data available. This was the first time I have found the course really difficult. When I was learning to be a welder, I would be tested on my abilities by being required to set out a control plan for, say, a Fanuc Arcmate 100i robot with RJ2 control unit, MiG welding, say, 5kg S355 Carbon Manganese steel components with a max penetration of 2mm. And when I started this Fashion course and undertook design, I just had to produce pretty but functional clothes.
But with this dissertation, I have to write about the why's and the how's and the who-said-so's - and it is very difficult. There is a lot of stuff on "women in welding" coming from America - where my heroine Julie Dean works - but almost nothing on women's welding clothing. And my Tutor says I have to bring in academic writing and models, such as Kapferer's Brand Identity Prism, or Sealy and Singh's excellent writing on "The importance of role models and demographic context for senior women’s work identity development". But I don't think they were welders.
This is Vera Anderson from 1944, a welder at Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, in Pascagoula Mississippi. She was named as one of The American Magazine's "Interesting People" in the May 1944 issue. She is so pretty, and possible sexy except she is so covered up by baggy overalls! She has re-inspired me - so I have now completed a Research Proposal titled "Towards fashionwear better suited for women in welding", and with supporting Aims and Objectives that show how women developed over time from Blacksmithing to becoming Welding Technicians, and how clothing can accentuate their femininity without detracting from their ability.
To keep me going, I have made a header for my Dissertation paper with the old Lithuanian proverb: "The most beautiful red rose comes wrapped in plain leaves."