Women in Woodworking
Changing the Bias in a Male-dominated Field
There have always been professions that are considered more masculine and male dominated. To a woman, these professions or fields can give a sense of intimidation and cause one to be in an uncomfortable space. Imagine how many things we could accomplish or what goals we could pursue if we make normal out of what was once an uncomfortable place for women. Woodworking has always been known as a masculine field, and today this still reigns true.
Only 3% of people in trades are female, and Morgan Meyer, the founder of Wood Art Woman, is one of the few working in this profession. What started as a hobby in her garage, soon turned into a passion, not only for the art, but for changing the bias and paving the path for women in the woodworking field.
So, what was the driving factor that got her into woodworking? It came down to one experience that she calls “the trigger event”. After purchasing a home and wanting to start some projects, with no prior experience, she went to Black and Decker’s (a hardware store) to build her tool library. Once in the store, a man handed her a catalog and said, “you should take this home to your boyfriend or husband and he’ll show you what tools to get”.
You may be thinking the same thing she was in that moment. “I stopped in my tracks and just looked at him and thought, wow. Clearly there are not enough women in this field.” She politely said, “Why? Women can’t use tools?” and he just walked away. “This is a moment that stops you in your tracks and you can’t believe that it actually just happened. It gave me the motivation to say I am learning this and I am going to excel at it. But it made me realize that there aren’t enough women in this field and I am going to change that, own it, and keep working on it because this needs to change. And this is the foundation of my business.”
Eventually, Morgan left her corporate job to pursue Wood Art Woman full-time in Hopkins, A suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, while using her story and business to change the bias and perception of women in male-dominated fields. “I can’t do it just with conversation. I think having a financial impact is important as well and it gives more purpose to what we do.” Morgan’s goal is to have a business model that is valued and can make an impact, while also making great art that people can put in their home. But her art… has an even greater purpose.
10% of her sales are donated to the National Women’s Law Center and all the wood is recycled from Minneapolis homes. She works with a couple contractors locally, and when they demo houses, she will go up with her Jeep and put it all in the back and make a couple trips. “It’s exciting to save all the wood from going to the landfill, because normally the contractors will need it gone the day of or it goes to the dump the next day. Even just the texture of the old wood is amazing, and at the same time it adds more purpose to make an impact directly in our community.”
Ever since that conversation with the man in Black and Decker’s, where a man hinted that she couldn’t buy her own tools, she started jumping online and on YouTube and learned woodworking. Her first design didn’t turn out anything like she wanted, but she worked at her skills and built another one right after.
“We need women in fields where they are not normally portrayed.”
She never grew up with women building or fixing things and never had those women to look up to. Looking back, she never thought she would become a woodworker.
She never desired to take the woodshop class in school because it was intimidating to be in a class where she would have been the only female. “Looking back, if I knew this is what I would be doing I would have joined that class, if there wasn’t a wall of intimidation. Nobody likes being the only woman in the room. If I knew that back then, I would have normalized being uncomfortable and taking up that space, joining that class, claiming my seat, and that’s how we start. I hope that someday I can have more female woodworkers around me and we can have that community and look up to each other. If I break down this wall for myself then maybe more women can join me later. This is why I want to break down the barriers and empower women to begin building, creating, leading, and cultivating.”
Morgan is passionate about her “why” and the story behind being in a male dominated field. The complexity of comparing herself to others was hard to overcome but she has been able to find her style and create things differently. She finds it rewarding to read messages from customers on how important Wood Art Woman’s mission is. “After they read my story, I can’t tell you how many others have told me they’ve experienced similar gender obstacles. It continues to prove that we have so much more to work towards.”
For women struggling to find their voice and roles in society, “Normalize being uncomfortable. If you don’t think you will be the best at something, keep working until you have accomplished it. Take up that space.”
We have paired with Wood Art Woman to offer a discount to Feminlist readers! Order our exclusive Feminlist design here or just use the code FEMINLIST at checkout on www.WoodArtWoman.com, or order our exclusive Feminlist design here! She is also on Instagram and Facebook @WoodArtWoman.
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