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WIC Week—Craft Personnel

Women make up only 2.5% of tradespeople in the USA. While more women and girls are being encouraged to take up crafts that require them to be hands on, it is still a work in progress. At Manson, there are some women who have been perfecting their craft for decades, and others who have recently taken the leap in. Here are stories of a couple of interesting ladies in Manson crafts.



A woman posing for a photo at a welding station.
Dee Devereaux, Welder

Dee Devereaux, Welder


The very definition of welding is the act of joining two pieces of metal in a permanent bond. This field has long been a male-dominated career, but at Manson there is a trailblazing woman who welds among our ranks in the Pacific Northwest.


Dee Devereaux sat down with our WIC Week committee to talk about her more than 20-year career in the trades at Manson. We talked about how she started out as a young and talented gymnast and eventually came to be an awesome female Manson welder.


“I married into construction,” she says, explaining that it was difficult to stay in one non-construction field for too long. She was a hairdresser, but traveled quite a bit following her husband from job to job.


“As a result, I decided to jump on board and became a pile-driver,” she says. “That later led to led to being a carpenter and now I’m a welder.”


Dee’s day-to-day consists of cutting parts, fixing things that need additional reinforcement, both for projects and for the Seattle yard, and of course, cleaning up. She said that she tends to lean a bit more towards ceramic welding, but she enjoys her craft and is up to the challenge of any project large or small.


“I love what I do and enjoy being a part of something. I like to see the full beginning and to the end process,” she says.


After the challenging year that was 2020 and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, Dee says she is excited to see the industry beginning to return to normal and more jobs to come along with that.


“Being a woman for sure, I have had to work twice as hard to prove myself and get acknowledgement for my work,” Dee explains. However, after her 20 years of service, Dee is highly respected in her field and has welded a permanent bond as a part of the team, carving out a spot for many women to follow in her footsteps.


Elizabeth Jagusch, Second Mate - BAYPORT


A woman steering a hopper dredge.

People get into the construction and dredging industry for a slew of reasons, whether it’s the family trade, job stability that is deemed “recession proof,” or they just happened into a job and turned it into a career.


Elizabeth Jagusch was simply looking for the kind of career that would allow her to work hard and then play harder. “I really wanted a job that gave me the kind of schedule where I could work hard for a while and then have time off to spend on my other interests like art and traveling,” she explains.


A long-time family friend, Mike Meyer, a Second Mate on the dredge BAYPORT, initially piqued Elizabeth’s interest. “He was telling me how he worked on this hopper dredge and that the schedule is 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off and you get to drive a ship all day,” she says. “I immediately thought, ‘This is the job for me.’”


Originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, Elizabeth already knew she enjoyed being on the water. After a chance encounter with Capt. Mike Coffey, she was even surer this was what she wanted. “So at the ripe old age of 24, I entered the California Maritime Academy and got my B.S. in Navigation,” she says jokingly. She came out with a Third Mate’s license and immediately started sailing on an oil tanker, “but the whole time I was just waiting for a Manson gig to come up.”


When Juan Valdez called to offer her a job on the BAYPORT, she leaped at the opportunity. “I went from not even knowing what a hopper dredge was to just really wanting to work at Manson,” she says. “I had no idea how much I was going to love this.”


As Second Mate, Elizabeth is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and crew. “I get to drive the ship all day, communicating and working with the drag tender who is running the drag arms of the vessel,” she says. “We work as a team.”


In the three years she’s worked at Manson so far, Elizabeth has worked in the Gulf of Mexico, completed a Panama Canal transit, and dredged on the West Coast. “While I’m usually the princess up in my crystal tower, staying clean and non-sweaty up in the wheelhouse, I really like when I get to help with vessel maintenance in the yard as well,” she says. “I work with really cool guys who teach me stuff in the yard. I genuinely love my job and my crew.”


Being the only woman out on the dredge for three weeks at a time can be challenging, but not for the reasons many would think. “Honestly, I just think I have so many girlfriends who would rock at this job and I would love to see more women out here,” she says. The crew she works with are always supportive and want to see her succeed and always make her feel included. “But after three weeks, I am ready for some girl time. I’m sure the drag tender gets tired of hearing about the last dress I bought or my glitter eye shadow,” she jokes.


As for the future, Elizabeth can see herself with Manson for a very long time, saying she’d like to continue studying and learning so that she could eventually become Chief Mate. “Right now, I can’t even imagine myself being a chief mate, but the more I get comfortable at work and learn more, I’m throwing it into my hopper of ideas,” she says.


When asked if she could see herself as Captain of a Manson vessel one day, “It is so hard to see yourself as something if you don’t have an example of it, so it would be awesome to be that role model for others one day.”


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