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Woodworking and Gender

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity that runs a successful Wood School. We bridge the gap between education and employment for those who want to work in the wood industry, while promoting the use of home-grown timber. Our experiences delivering summer schools, and connecting with both education institutions and industry, have made it increasingly evident there is a serious and significant issue with gender inequality in the sector.

With the help of industry and experienced industry professionals, we have developed a proposal for a new and co-ordinated programme of activities that seeks to address gender inequality in the furniture industry. We will undertake a wide range of activities as discrete and intertwined projects, including both education and industry outreach. Given the scale of the challenge and the range of planned activities, we believe that a minimum of a five-year programme is necessary.

Thanks to generous support from the Vastern Timber Woodland Tax we have gathered compelling research that highlights the need for our Woodworking and Gender Programme. A complete lack of data led us to undertake a survey of furniture makers that indicated that only one in twelve furniture makers were women.

On October 13, 2023 Sylva Foundation hosted an innovative seminar, Woodworking and Gender: What’s the Story? Over 70 participants came together at the Sylva Wood Centre for a day of talks, workshops and discussions about gender equality in the wood industry.

"'There really was magic in the air. We felt privileged to take part and to meet the incredible women and supporters in the room.' Seminar participant"

The seminar exceeded our expectations and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. All the information gathered is being used to shape and further develop the Woodworking and Gender Programme proposal. We will continue to build support, gather research and fundraise to successfully deliver on our ambitions.  In the short term, the Sylva team will continue to plan and create events and opportunities for women and non-binary people until we are in a position to employ a full-time programme lead, hopefully early in 2024.

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