According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up less than 10 percent of those employed in the construction industry. In the world of our tiny house class, I am proud to say we make up the majority.
As a student, I have been lucky to have a lot of very strong, female role models who are more than willing to grab power tools, scale ladders and nail boards together. Both my engineering teachers in high school were women, and although those high school classes were filled mainly by males, the females were the ones leading the show.
While working on the tiny house, I have enjoyed seeing how little gender is factored into who is called to grab a power tool or to saw a board. That said, there are still subtle ways in which gender comes into play. When someone asks “do you need help with that?” as you carry something heavy, it is obvious that they just want to lend a hand, but it can also make you pause and question whether you would get the same question if you of a different gender. Which is why I think it is important to celebrate the fact that our class is majority female.
The more women who know how to grab nail guns and use them with gusto (and appropriate safety gear), the less the world will bat an eye (or post to blogs) about gender on construction sites. The more women carrying beams around at worksites, the fewer times teachers will ask for male volunteers to grab heavy boxes in classrooms. The more women seen hammering roofs together, the fewer women looked down on as less able when it comes to powering up table saws.
There is no better place to shift the gender balance in the construction industry than in a tiny house built by students, and I am grateful that our class busts any lingering myths on women as engineers, architects, designers and builders. So, to any female students considering this class or even building a tiny house solo, I say grab your tool box and get ready to rivet.