Hard Hatted Woman is the first feature-length documentary film about women who work in blue-collar construction trades. They are ironworkers and electricians, plumbers and piledrivers, boilermakers and masons, and they all know what it's like to be the only woman on the job. They are less than 3% of the national construction workforce, but a small number of remarkable women continue to pursue this daunting and non-traditional career path. Many of them are seeking the economic security of these high-paying union jobs, while others are drawn to the innate satisfaction of physically and technically demanding work. But all of them have something to say about surviving and thriving in a hyper-masculine arena, where only the bold have entered and even fewer will succeed. Despite federal interventions and affirmative action laws since 1978, the number of women in building trades has not increased in nearly four decades. What has been keeping them out?
Hard Hatted Woman explores that question and confronts gender stereotypes entrenched not only in the world of carpenters and crane operators but also in our own collective beliefs about women's aptitudes and abilities. A woman in a blue-collar job--laying brick or fitting pipe--is still an anomaly to not only her co-workers but our culture at large. Following a handful of tradeswomen through their daily experiences on and off the job, Hard Hatted Woman creates intimate portraits of the women who do this work: why they chose it, how each woman navigates its physical and emotional challenges, how they shape her, and how she decides to shape them back. The narrative connects their personal stories to a broader movement of workers, organizers, advocates, educators and leaders uniting to keep "non-traditional" doors open for women. At some point of critical mass, the culture of construction might change. This film is about the women who are changing it.