Women are on the rise. They are invading, in a good way, every profession—especially those once barred to them like construction. In fact, they can wield a power tool as well as any guy. They are strong, well-trained, careful, and skilled. They often have a better eye. Give them a table saw and they will go to town on any project. As a set designer, you can bet that I have lifted many a tool. I have many women in my crew, one more talented than the other. We recently used a table saw to cut a large piece of wood for a new set. It saved us time and energy. When you know the tools, you can cut corners on the manual labor.
So, here’s to the empowerment of women. I am tired of all-male staff in the theater from set decoration and construction to lighting and costuming. Let me rant and rave. I am also tired of all the misogyny on the Internet and the job postings that specify men only. I relish putting up an ad for female construction workers wanted. The men at the theater worry about safety when it comes to power tools and right they should, but why aren’t women capable to taking care. It is just a false assumption that has no basis in reality. Women are electricians, glass installers, layers of tile and flooring, and much more. If a man can learn a trade, so can a woman. Women are just as dexterous and mindful of exacting details. I want to do a shout out to all the employed females out there who are honing their craft. I love the autonomy and creativity that has become associated with the new “women’s work.” It is not in the kitchen any more. I love to see a strong woman wield a power tool to build a set. And it could be me alongside her.
Recently, one the male workers cut himself with a power saw and we were all devastated. The director wanted to reassign his job to another man. I was livid because there was a woman standing by who had just finished her work and was available. I gave him such a look and he acquiesced. She took over in a flash and finished the assignment safely and quickly. It couldn’t have been any better. I think we all learned a lesson that day, and mostly the men. They don’t hesitate anymore to include women in the roster of the set building crew. We have a new level of teamwork that we never had before. I admire the boss for coming around on a touchy subject. Pretty soon we may have an all-female staff. Women have certainly proved their worth in my world, and I know they are doing it elsewhere. Don’t let discrimination get you down, ladies. I can testify to the changes afoot. It is a new climate out there in the working world. If you have a yen to use power tools, then go for it.