Women Are Carpenters Too: Open Letter by Dr Lynn Jones

A response from Dr Lynn Jones to The Observer’s article published on Sunday.

“Furniture making, or ‘carpentry’ as some choose to call it, is male dominated for no good reason, so, perpetuating the myth that there are no women doing it for a living, when you had a golden opportunity to change that myth in your magazine last weekend, left me sad, frustrated and very disappointed (Sunday 18th February – Back To the Wood, A New Generation of Carpenters Tell Their Stories. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/18/carpenters-greatest-hits-the-craft-of-young-woodworkers).
In your article we are introduced to four of the new generation “who use traditional skills to create contemporary homeware, from chairs to chopping boards…meet some of the carpenters and carvers who are changing the way we think about wood”. They are all male, all white and all no doubt commendable craftsmen. But my point is this. I have worked as a furniture designer, maker and senior lecturer in furniture designing and making all of my working life and in that time (35 years) I genuinely believed that this profession would by now be healthily gender balanced, but it’s still nowhere near being so. Please, please can we stop being clumsy about this. Inspiring young women to enter this rewarding, socially needed, worthwhile profession is hard enough without respected mainstream newspapers dropping the baton, portraying ‘carpenters’ as this romantic, idyllic, easy, shed in the woods profession, only successfully practised by stereotypical male role models:

“… such articles continue to portray the job I am so passionate in pursuing as a boys only club. Having female role models is just as important to young men as it is to young women, therefore taking every opportunity to give equal exposure to craftswomen is vital. Recognising that there are female furniture makers in today’s world should not be a novelty, it should just be normal! ”

(Harriet Poppy Speed, BA Furniture Design & Make student, Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford/www.this-girl-makes.com).
Carpentry and making furniture is tough, competitive, expensive to resource, generally undervalued and very, very hard to make a living from without any form of financial backing; portrayed by the media as the domain of men only, makes it even less likely for women to succeed.”

John Neaden
Featured image from The Observer’s article. Beautiful work by John Eaden’s, the Mima Range.

Another article featured in The Guardian in 2015 that was very similar, again featuring only white men. Has nothing changed in the past three years?!

Read it here:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/16/new-generation-woodworkers-tables-chairs-design 

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