Jo's cover image

Jo Saccomani

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: New South Wales
To explore new, effective ways to extend carpentry and woodworking skills to women and children - USA


This report is a summary of the highlights and findings from my travels in the USA to the New England region and Maryland researching new ways to extend woodwork and carpentry skills to women and children.

I visited various types and sizes of organisations, schools, and workshops and discovered many different approaches to teaching. These included learning through discovering for yourself and by collaborative design build models. I explored various models that make learning skills, tools, machinery and workspaces accessible and affordable to anyone, making it possible to build virtually anything. Particular highlights included my visits to makerspaces and tool libraries established by communities. The tiny house movement is progressing full steam ahead, and there is huge potential in the accessibility and affordability of working with tiny houses as a workshop format.

Where possible I participated as a student in short woodwork courses to experience firsthand different approaches to the methods and art of being a good woodwork teacher. I have come away with hundreds of fabulous ideas for projects to be built in classes and workshops at my school. I found it inspiring to share stories and experiences with tradeswomen who had also turned their work to the teaching of carpentry and woodwork skills to other women. I have come back from my travels particularly powered by what I witnessed at Girls at Work in New Hampshire. There I saw the confidence and self-esteem and empowerment that’s possible for disadvantaged 10 year-old girls when they are taught how to build with power tools and have a workshop to call their own.

Future directions include possibilities for action to implement within my workshop and circulating my findings to help encourage positive developments in other communities. Similarly, recommendations from this report outline potential roles for community, industry and government agencies.