Note: I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for many weeks. But travel, teaching, book editing and toolmaking have stymied me. Time is short on this campaign, so if you can support this endeavor, please do.
Every modern survey of woodworkers that I know of contends that the craft is 95 percent male and 5 percent female. Why is this? I’m not smart enough or informed enough to give you an answer that is better than a guess (I seriously doubt anyone is). But I do know something very important: It wasn’t always this way.
Before the rise of the guild system in the Middle Ages and the later separation of gender roles in the 18th and 19th centuries, women in the woodworking trades were a common sight. (Want to read more about this? Check out this excellent article Suzanne Ellison wrote for our blog last April.)
And that’s why I wholeheartedly support “A Workshop of Our Own,” a school and workshop aimed at creating woodworkers among women, children and other disadvantaged people. The effort is headed up by Sarah Marriage, a world-class furniture maker I met in Brooklyn a few years ago. Her work is spectacular. She has a brilliant mind. And she has the enthusiasm and drive to make this endeavor work.
While you might rankle at the idea of a school for women, I don’t. We men have failed during the last 150 years to bring women into the craft – the numbers don’t lie. So maybe this school and workshop will succeed where we have not.
Plus, I think the world will be a far more interesting place with “A Workshop of Our Own,” and I cannot wait to see what grows from the seeds the supporters are planting now.
Time is short to support Sarah and her school so they can attempt to buy their building and secure the location and future of the school. You can read full details here. I hope you will consider supporting their effort.
— Christopher Schwarz