What's the story?
Bravo to Sylva Wood School and all of the organisers of today's event in Oxfordshire. The throng of female and non-binary woodworkers and their supporters was buzzing from beginning to end. Everyone sported a name badge with a colour and we were split into groups to enjoy workshops on different topics – a walk through the future forest, discussions about Sylva Wood School's role in the conversation about gender diversity as well as a fascinating talk on the masculinity of tools and how to challenge thinking around objects.
The day was bookended with talks. Katy, who happens to be a rising star at Matthew Cox, bravely kicked off the day. She was phenomenal as she spoke with heart and humour about her journey into furniture and the obstacles she had to overcome. Three more young speakers shared stories of their journeys, which were different but shared similar narratives – they nearly didn't make it but they found their way in the end. It was heartwarming to hear and for sure, we'll hear more from these young woodworkers.
At the end of the day, Dr Lynn Jones chaired a panel discussion with experienced women in the industry to over a different perspective. The panel and audience concluded that things have moved on considerably but more must do improve the experience of women in woodwork if the industry is to embrace gender diversity and enjoy all the benefits it can bring.
There was magic in the room today and though everyone went their(reluctantly!) separate ways at the end of the day, I'm sure the effects of the day will resonate for years to come.