Women get into Do It Your­self projects


‘‘Women may still be the ones choos­ing the paint in hard­ware stores, but they are into the "meaty" DIY projects as well.’’

Mitre 10’s ‘‘Ladies’ Nights’’ get 500 to 600 women at­tend­ing in cities like Auck­land all seek­ing to hone their DIY skills.

The name is a throw­back to an era that’s rapidly pass­ing into mem­ory, when DIY was widely con­sid­ered a bloke’s job, and peo­ple still used the word lady.

And yet, when it comes to DIY, both ‘‘lady’’ and ‘‘bloke’’ still have cur­rency.

That’s be­cause the word lady car­ries a gen­tle, jokey re­minder of the past, and many of the ‘‘blokes’’ th­ese days are women.

Aca­demic Rosie Cox, who stud­ied DIY fam­ily cul­ture, said the ‘‘Kiwi bloke’’ was im­por­tant in New Zealand gen­der iden­tity, but its im­por­tance was for both men and women.

Or as Mitre 10’s Dave El­liott puts it: ‘‘The cul­tural code in New Zealand is women are blokes.’’

By that, he means equal, and equally ca­pa­ble, a her­itage go­ing back to colo­nial times when land was bro­ken to make farms, and you built your own home, and women did a lot of the break­ing and build­ing.

In ad­ver­tis­ing and pop­u­lar cul­ture, the tech­ni­cally in­com­pe­tent, DIY-in­ept women that re­searcher Ann Win­stan­ley iden­ti­fied in ad­ver­tis­ing through­out the 1980s and 90s has been re­placed by male-fe­male ‘‘teams’’ on shows like The Block.

El­liott says women may still be the ones choos­ing the paint in hard­ware stores, but they are into the ‘‘meaty’’ DIY projects as well.

‘‘You would think Mitre 10 had a bias to­wards males, but it doesn’t,’’ Eil­liott says.

In some stores in ru­ral ar­eas, women make up more than 50 per cent of cus­tomers com­ing through the doors, he says.

There’s also been a sub­tle shift in stock­ing that’s taken place in the past cou­ple of decades. Power tools are now in­creas­ingly be­ing de­signed with women in mind.

There’s no shortage of work to be done on our homes.

In the year to the end of June, Mitre 10 alone had rev­enues of $1.24 bil­lion. It’s a big ex­pense, but the key rea­son peo­ple spend on DIY is to save the money they would have had to pay to tradies.

New Zealan­ders, it ap­pears, seem to be the western world’s most ac­tive DIYers.

Sarah Coatsworth was Mitre 10’s first na­tional women’s DIY cham­pion.

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