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incompetent, DIY-inept women that researcher Ann Winstanley identified in advertising throughout the 1980s and 90s has been replaced by male-female ‘‘teams’’ on shows like The Block.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