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, mining, 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 further discussion about gender bias in all "non-traditional" jobs and raise awareness of the obstacles women in them confront. I believe this is a conversation that will benefit women everywhere.

With so many remarkable women breaking ground in different places, why have I chosen to focus on the building trades? I was drawn to construction sites for many reasons--visually, I have always found them beautiful, mysterious and fascinating places. Also, construction is familiar to us all. The building trades collectively produce the structures we see everyday. But beyond these intuitive reasons, I 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.