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Breaking Barriers

Caitlin Holden and Abygail Jacobes have proven that playing with fire isn’t just for the boys.

Wielding a scorching-hot welding torch blazing as brightly as their promising futures, the two recent Bucks County career and technical education graduates are bringing the heat.

When they first took up welding at their respective technical schools, they became two of just a few young women in a male-dominiated industry.

“All three years of my technical school experience, I was the only girl,” said 17-year-old Abygail, of Quakertown, who attended Upper Bucks County Technical School.

In the workforce, just 5.8% of welders are female, according to the American Welding Society.

That low percentage was reflected in both students’ classrooms.

“I was in a class with 17 other guys, and I am still the only girl in my entire shift in my shop,” she said, referring to her full-time job as a welder at Klover Contracting.

Caitlin, 18, had a similar experience of being one of three girls out of a class of 11 during her time at Bucks County Technical High School, where she came out on top as valedictorian.