FOR "NON-TRADITIONAL" WOMEN EVERYWHERE

Hard Hatted Woman honors in spirit all "non-traditional" job pioneers. One such woman is Brenda Berkman, who overcame extraordinary obstacles to become one of the first female firefighters in New York City. She fought and won a civil suit against the FDNY in 1982 for discrimination against women, and went on to retire in 2006 with the rank of Captain. Her legacy has been to crack open the doors for female firefighters, although their struggle continues: out of nearly 11,000 firefighters at the FDNY today, only 37 are women--less than 1%.

Hard Hatted Woman honors in spirit all "non-traditional" job pioneers. One such woman is Brenda Berkman, who overcame extraordinary obstacles to become one of the first female firefighters in New York City. She fought and won a civil suit against the FDNY in 1982 for discrimination against women, and went on to retire in 2006 with the rank of Captain. Her legacy has been to crack open the doors for female firefighters, although their struggle continues: out of nearly 11,000 firefighters at the FDNY today, only 37 are women--less than 1%.

Many of the challenges women in construction face are not particular to them but rather common if not universal experiences for women in male-dominated occupations. There are pioneering women in many other non-traditional fields--manufacturing, transportation, STEM fields, firefighting, military and law enforcement, and so many more--and they are every one of them breaking ground. Those women know who they are, and Hard Hatted Woman honors them in spirit. The mission of the film is to provoke much deeper discussion about gender bias in all "non-traditional" jobs and raise awareness of the obstacles women in them confront. We believe this is a conversation that will benefit women everywhere.

WHY FOCUS ON CONSTRUCTION?

With so many remarkable women breaking ground in diverse fields, why have we chosen to focus on the building trades? We were drawn to construction sites for many reasons--visually, they are uniquely compelling places. Also, construction is familiar to us all. The building trades collectively produce the structures we see everyday. But beyond these intuitive reasons, we also wanted to report on the ongoing viability of construction careers in an economy that has de-skilled and outsourced so many other blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and production. Because our buildings, bridges, and roads must always be built in the U.S.A., the opportunities in building trades will endure for a long time to come.

why focus on unionized trades?

We have chosen to focus on unionized trades for three simple reasons. First, union apprenticeship programs have provided by far the most viable pathway for women to enter these careers, offering paid training and an educational structure for acquiring skills and mentorship. Second, the economic incentives to pursue these careers exist only because unions have fought for those living wages and benefits and middle-class stability for their workers. Third, the process of union democracy has given women a structure in which to organize and build their movement. For all of these reasons, unions have played a fundamental role in the tradeswoman story, which is why they play a fundamental role in the film.