In her years as a carpenter, Maria has repeatedly found herself to be the only woman in building classes, usually the only woman on a job site. According to the Department of Labor, fewer than 2% of carpenters are women. There are some “women-to-work” programs addressing this issue, however these tend to focus on job-readiness rather than on craftspersonship and skills-building. Some craft-based carpentry schools offer a single course exclusively for women; these classes tend to be small, and not at the forefront of the school’s mission. Hammerstone School combines these experiences into a craft school teaching building classes that prioritize women as students and as future builders.

Teaching carpentry to women

While the idea of teaching carpentry for women classes had been percolating in Maria’s mind for quite some time, it wasn’t realized until the winter of 2012-2013 when a friend presented the perfect project around which to organize the inaugural classes: a tiny house. Maria designed two courses around this house: the first to frame the tiny home, and the second to work on trim and interior detailing. The tiny house classes quickly led to other opportunities: a two-day introduction to carpentry skills course, and a cider-press building workshop. With the success of that first year, we decided to expand our offerings; with a new schedule, we hope to also expand the geographical reach of our school so that more women from around the country are able to get an introduction to building in a safe and enjoyable environment.