During Women’s History Month 2020, the Apprenticeshop in Rockland has announced the establishment of a scholarship for women, and those who identify as women, to participate in its 12-week, nine-month and two-year boatbuilding programs. The women’s scholarship is part of a new long-term initiative at the Apprenticeshop to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization, from its student and apprentice population to its staff and board membership.

The Apprenticeshop already has women in positions of leadership, both on staff and on the board, several of whom are alumnae of the boatbuilding program, according to a news release from the Apprenticeshop.

Emma Hathaway with her almost-completed skiff as she drills the fastener holes to be able to attach the oarlock pads to the hull. Photo by Nate Hathaway

This scholarship encourages female participation within a space and skill set that has traditionally been the domain of males, inviting women to strive for their full potential in this challenging and rewarding context. The Apprenticeshop intends to ensure there will always be women apprentices within each boatbuilding cohort. They can then serve as role models for other women and girls who are drawn to work with their hands.

Phoebe Kuo, who completed the 12-week intensive in 2013 said, “The Apprenticeshop was pivotal in my development as a maker. Building my own boat from start to finish gave me the confidence and the skills to finally pursue woodworking seriously, after years of having an office job and building furniture on the weekends,”  according to the release.

Her sentiments are echoed in what Emma Hathaway, another 12-week apprentice, recently said in an interview about her experience at the ‘shop, “Self-doubt
is a thing I struggle with. It is something I hadn’t anticipated being able to overcome as much. When other people don’t doubt you, it’s harder to doubt yourself. I didn’t expect to gain that confidence.”

Its strategy to build a scholarship for women is taking place on two fronts. First, The Mary Lacy Project is an opportunity to support its women’s scholarship fund by entering a raffle to win a flat-bottomed rowboat called a Susan Skiff. Mary Lacy was recently completed by Emma Hathaway, director of Waterfront and Seamanship, during her stint as a 12-week apprentice.


Hathaway already had a long resume of sailing and leadership experience when she started the intensive program but had never built a boat before. Over the winter of 2019/20, she rectified that. She named her skiff Mary Lacy to bring awareness to an historic female figure who spent the majority of her life under the guise of a man in order to work as a boatbuilder and mariner.

Raffle tickets for the Mary Lacy are available now and cost $20 and the lucky winner will be drawn in the summer or of 2020. This traditionally built wooden skiff retails for $2,000 with a pair of oars.

Second, 20 for 20k in 2020, is a collaborative effort amongst at least 20 women passionate about empowering other women, who are willing to contribute at least $1,000 each toward a minimum $20,000 base for the women’s scholarship fund. A seed fund of $20,000 will enable three scholarships to be awarded in 2020 — one woman in each of its three boatbuilding programs: the 12-week, nine-month, and two-year — to be used when programs are fully back up and running. Supporters will be directly connected to the scholarship recipients through project updates, as well as invitations to visit construction on the shop floor and launches.

To support these efforts, contribute to the women’s scholarship fund or spread the word to women who might be interested in the programs.

For more information, visit apprenticeshop.org.

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