Let me just confess right here that I don't use ANY of my lady parts for forging. (I also don't call them lady parts.)
We have historic documentation of female blacksmiths that goes back centuries, and includes some women who owned their own shops. Check out some of these articles: Women's Work, With all the Grace of the Sex, What Women Blacksmiths Wore (featuring Aislinn Lewis!), and Pre-20th Century Female Blacksmiths. It seems evident that female blacksmiths were more common than we imagine, but still rare enough to be of note.
And it's still that way today. I remember the day my neighbor hollered at me from his porch, "I done never seen a WOMAN blacksmith before!" (nevermind that he'd probably never met a blacksmith of any sort before). My father joked weakly that I was taking up blacksmithing to meet men. I have met men. Almost exclusively men. And they're generally spectacularly awesome people. But I notice every time I've ever encountered a woman wielding a hammer. Still rare enough to be of note. And that's not even mentioning the visible lack of diversity in skin color, disability, age, etc.
Here's the thing: a lack of diversity breeds a lack of diversity. The idea that "my sorta people don't do this" can be a whisper in the back of your head, or shouted at you across the street. It can be wrapped in a joke, or coded with additional adjectives ("FEMALE blacksmith"). You may be celebrated or ignored because of things about you that have little to nothing to do with blacksmithing--often things that aren't even under your control. And so, even if you think that blacksmithing would be fun to try, it can be just a little bit harder to get around to swinging a hammer. Culture is a big bully.
I started Ms Caitlin's School in 2015. I started it in part because it's a passion of mine. But also because I want to provide a counter example. People like me DO blacksmith. And so can you.
I'm tremendously excited to work with anyone and everyone who walks through my door. I'm doubly excited if that helps to increase diversity within the blacksmithing community. So I hold classes specifically for women. I'm trying to reach past that voice that whispers "people like me don't blacksmith" and say, "Everyone can be a badass. Come play."
Upcoming classes for women: