Why Aren't There More Women Woodworkers?

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Forum topic by Cricket posted 06-23-2014 11:49 PM 7508 views 1 time favorited 191 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2800 posts in 2649 days

06-23-2014 11:49 PM

My question is sincere, so please don’t chew me up and spit me out for it.

Why is it that we don’t see more woodworkers who are women?

Is it at least starting to increase?

-- Community Manager

191 replies so far

View 3woodworkers4life's profile


61 posts in 2517 days

#1 posted 06-23-2014 11:56 PM

My wife is disabled & cannot work outside of the home. She is fixing to start doing a little woodwork on her better days. She will not be able to pick up a heavy piece of wood, but we’ll help cut the pieces to size for her. She’s helped me in the past & she’s looking forward to using a scroll & band saw again. We made sure the table was at the correct height for her chair.

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2731 days

#2 posted 06-23-2014 11:57 PM

Linda Manzer has been building guitars for the likes of Pat Metheny forever.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 2586 days

#3 posted 06-23-2014 11:59 PM

Good question,
I was wondering myself why there aren’t more men that are Mr moms. lol

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2674 days

#4 posted 06-24-2014 12:14 AM

I’ve seen quite a few very accomplished ladies on this site. Hence my statement that I like the diverse membership on this site.
In 7th and 8th grade (1957) all ladies took shop classes and boys took home ecc. co-ed.
The ladies always excelled in woodworking especially finishes.
I think it’s a patience thing.
By the way we have many lady pipefitters in our trades and they excel in welding.
Maybe the ladies just don’t make as much noise.

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4398 days

#5 posted 06-24-2014 12:30 AM

i have known a number of women in the related trades
over the years
taught some too (still do)

you don’t hear many say things like

‘here hold my my beer , and watch this’

but then again
you don’t hear many men say

‘oh, look at my new choo’s’

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View bandit571's profile (online now)


28301 posts in 3740 days

#6 posted 06-24-2014 12:32 AM

There happens to be a large group over at the Stumpy Nubs thread. All skill levels too.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2926 days

#7 posted 06-24-2014 12:36 AM

Chicks dig me. I guess there just isn’t enough time left over for other interests.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View bigblockyeti's profile


7195 posts in 2778 days

#8 posted 06-24-2014 12:38 AM

Fewer girls than boys are introduced to woodworking at an early age. Society is to blame.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 3940 days

#9 posted 06-24-2014 12:45 AM

Most women I know have no interest in woodworking…I’m not sure why; I don’t think it is a sexist thing, they are all otherwise independent professionals, they just prefer to knit (seriously) or have book clubs (again, seriously) rather than have woodworking for a hobby.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4365 days

#10 posted 06-24-2014 12:48 AM

Quite a simple answer…there are not as many women woodworkers because most women are just not interested in woodworking, sawdust, mess, tools, etc. The women that have do have an interest are very talented and skilled. My wife and I participate in a lot of art and high end craft shows and we notice most female artists focus their creativity on other mediums.

I have tried to get my wife interested in working in the shop but she has absolutely no interest.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2674 days

#11 posted 06-24-2014 12:58 AM

plus 1 on Greg, my wife likes the output from the shop but not the process, to each his own.

View KarenW's profile


131 posts in 3245 days

#12 posted 06-24-2014 01:09 AM

We’re out there but it’s a different world for us.
Now I won’t pretend to speak for other women in woodworking so I’ll speak from my experience only.
I was the first girl in my entire county to take wood shop in high school in 75/76. It took a meeting of the school board and a letter from my parents to get me in and of course there was talk. I passed with flying colors and the teacher wasn’t easy on me since he wasn’t crazy about having me in his class. He tried to assign my jobs in the shop as sweeping up and putting away and keeping me away from the tools because he was sure I was going to cut off my arm. I finally had a meeting with him and explained that I knew my way around a table saw – learned from my father and grandfather – that I could identify any species he’d care to whip out and for Christmas the previous year I got a set of turning tools. After that, we understood each other.

Over the years I tried to find other things that held my interest—cooking, crochet, needlework and the like (my x-husband wasn’t crazy about a wife with a wood shop, one of the reasons he’s now an X) :)
but I kept going back to wood. With a granddad and father who both had shops, I couldn’t help it.

The x-husband finally gave up and started ignoring it and I got into it full time, starting with antique furniture (what my dad did and what I knew best). It wasn’t easy dealing with lumber yards and hardware stores. Answering the same question – “What are you going to do with it?” became tedious and hearing the same “Honey, have your husband come down and we’ll get him what he wants” irritated me beyond words. I also dealt with stereotyping – a woman with short hair, a strong back and into woodworking had to be gay. Just no way around it. Otherwise she’d be in the kitchen and raising kids.


When I got into carving and inlay, attitudes changed a bit. People appreciated the ‘art’ but they still didn’t believe the building and repairing parts. I learned to let it go. I didn’t care if they knew I built all the bookcases in the house or the entertainment center or the headboard. Or if I rebuilt and refinished the old oak armoire and the kitchen table. It didn’t matter because my customers were happy, I was making money and I knew my skills.

That was years ago. Too many to think about.
I’ve been working on furniture now for 33 years. After our house burned in ‘09 my partner and I rebuilt a log home and most of the furniture in it. I put up all the tongue and groove vaulted ceiling because he couldn’t deal with the scaffolding. We share tools equally though he claims the table saw as his, I claim the lathe as mine. :)

I was fortunate to find him. He appreciated my determination and my knowledge and I think he was a bit envious of my router bit collection. lol The fact that I’m not into makeup and fashion and designer nails was a plus for him – that’s money that can go towards another load of cherry and walnut – as long as I cleaned up pretty well so we could go out in public. He’s never had to explain a design, never had to convince me on a tool purchase and knows I won’t fuss if the yard isn’t mowed when we’re in the midst of a build.

I think one of the things about women woodworkers is that we’re not taught the same things as children that boys are taught. I was lucky to have a dad that did take the time. Mom still taught me to cook and clean and do laundry but I had the added benefit of also being allowed in the shop. Both of my grandfathers were also good about letting me ‘help’ with repairs and building jobs which was where I learned framing and electrical.
Some women also have problems with physical strength. Let’s face it – a sheet of plywood isn’t the easiest thing to move around without help. Then there’s the sweating, the dust, the noise, the occasional mashed thumb and too-tight collets. Not things little girls are taught to appreciate or understand.

But I believe the main thing is desire and an early introduction to the woodworking world. Maybe there isn’t an interest and that’s OK. But I think if more girls were at least exposed to it we’d see more women woodworkers around.

-- Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best. --Theodore I. Rubin

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30612 posts in 3395 days

#13 posted 06-24-2014 01:11 AM

Let me condemn society. In my youth girls took home economics and the boys were sent to shop. No choice. So society mandated it then. In the 35 years since I graduated, things have changed dramatically. More and more women involved in mechanics, woodworking and other physical trades. Oddly, I see more young men moving into the “traditionally female” jobs such as secretarial and nursing. In the current younger generation, I find young women to be much better workers than young men. A big thumbs up to the women, a depressing thumbs down to the young men.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30612 posts in 3395 days

#14 posted 06-24-2014 01:17 AM

I firmly believe that it’s increasing. There is a lot more here than people realize. They just don’t talk as much as some of us.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3747 days

#15 posted 06-24-2014 01:20 AM

KarenW, Good for you! I think there are a lot of very talented female woodworkers out there.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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