Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood

With still relatively few women working in the skilled trades, we are always excited to hear about new media representing the experiences of tradeswomen.

We are excited to share a new publication from Canadian tradeswoman Hilary Peach, detailing her two decades as a transient welder in the Boilermakers Union! The book, Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood, is a collection of Hilary’s journal entries, notes, and observations from her time working in shipyards, pulp mills, power-stations, and other traditionally male worksites across the North American continent.

Hilary’s stories take you on a journey through the lens of being the only woman welder on a job-site. Her mastery of the written word paints a beautiful picture of the dichotomy between the challenging nature of her work and the rewarding feelings of a job well done. Hilary confronts the blatant sexism and discrimination in the industry with humor, lending levity to tough topics that are still too common in the tradeswoman experience.

The British Columbia Review describes Thick Skin as “a vital memoir and, as poet Kate Braid reveals in her preface, it’s also a ‘love story.’ Hilary Peach takes the reader into a rarely seen world and we leave with new knowledge and respect, her style sparking as brightly as a welder’s torch, seaming disparate pieces of the universe together.”

Canadian poet Kate Braid says of the memoir, “This is a wonderful book – not just funny but a rare, insider’s look at the life of a travelling welder – the good, the bad, the ugly, and always, the fascinating.  A collection of hilarious stories by a master (mistress?) of repartee, it is also an homage to the trade she loved.”

The New York Labor History Association, Inc. thanks Hilary for “making women look good out there and for paving the way for more women to enter this industry.”

You can purchase Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood directly from Small Press Distribution, a non-profit literary book distributer, or on Amazon!

UPDATE (7/12/2023): Join Oregon Tradeswomen at 454 SE 187th Ave, Portland, OR, on August 10th at 6:00 pm for a book reading and Q&A with the author!
RSVP and Join the Event on Facebook!

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