In an industry that is over 97% male-dominated, women in blue-collar construction trades are daring to confront stereotypes entrenched not only in the world of carpenters and crane operators, but also in our culture at large. Theirs is a fight to redefine the labor movement and break down the most enduring barriers for women.
HARD HATTED WOMAN is the first feature-length documentary to tell the story of women in construction trades. They are ironworkers and electricians, piledrivers and pipefitters, all pioneering women who continue to pursue this daunting and non-traditional career path. Many of them are seeking economic empowerment; union construction jobs offer better wages and benefits than most of the leading occupations for women. Others are drawn to the innate satisfaction of physically and technically demanding work. But all of them end up fighting to advance in a hyper-masculine arena where only the bold have entered and even fewer will succeed. Lingering myths and stereotypes about women's aptitudes and abilities prevent untold numbers of women from entering the trades, and cause many to leave.
Taking the viewer into the grit and intensity of construction sites, Hard Hatted Woman follows five protagonists through their daily experiences both on and off the job, creating intimate portraits of the women who choose this work, revealing how each one navigates the work’s physical and emotional challenges, how they shape her, and how she decides to shape them back. At the heart of the struggle is an enduring passion for the work itself—pride of craft, joy of building, love of trade. The narrative connects their compelling personal stories to a broader movement of tradeswomen, labor organizers, and long-time activists uniting to keep these non-traditional doors open for women, as they wait for a tipping point that has yet to come.