A couple of reports on gender and DIY have caught my eye this week, contradicting each other when it comes to how much DIY men and women do. But does it really matter who holds the saw and who holds the spoon?
One report, carried out by Mintel, claimed that we’re still living up to the old-fashioned stereotype, where women do most of the housework and men do most of the DIY.
Consult B&Q’s study, however, and you’ll find there’s a massive rise in women doing DIY, with three-quarters of females believing they’re just as competent at basic skills as any man.
Who wears the apron?
So who’s right? Bizarrely, if I look at my own household it’s a mixture of both. My partner’s a joiner by trade and can turn himself to most jobs – electrics, plumbing and plastering included – so clearly, I won’t be claiming that I can match him in competence. But I have learnt a lot about decorating, tiling and general DIY through renovating two properties, and am happy to give most things a go.
Still, when it comes to who does what, it makes sense that he ploughs ahead with putting up shelves, installing plugs etc, while I get on with making the dinner- it just saves time.
So yes, if you were a fly on the wall in our house, you’d often observe some stereotypical gender roles, but that doesn’t mean we’re old-fashioned, it’s just the best way to get things done quickly.
Women can do it themselves
Looking back at a previous Conversation, which asked whether DIY home maintenance is a dying art, it didn’t take long for the women (me included) to answer back to the suggestion that dads have stopped teaching sons how to drill and saw.
‘What’s this about MEN’s DIY? I’m a woman and I’ve learned my DIY skills both from my dad AND my mother!’ fumed Sophie Gilbert. Our own Nikki Whiteman was equally enraged:
‘I’m a little bit annoyed with the AA for reporting only on how men feel about DIY, implying it’s a masculine activity. It’s not – it’s rewarding (not to mention money-saving) for everyone.’
Well said Sophie and Nikki! But before we start sawing up our bras in a fit of feminism, shouldn’t we just accept that some people like doing DIY and some don’t?
Let’s disregard gender roles
Regardless of gender, home maintenance is something that takes time, preparation and practise. Yes, some are better than others, but most of us can do some basic jobs around the house if we put our minds to it.
When B&Q asked women why they have taken up DIY, the most common answer among them was that it’s the ‘only way to get anything done’. Three in ten said that they enjoyed the challenge, while a quarter said they wanted to stop asking their fathers for help.
Ultimately, most of us only start learning about the joys of DIY when we move out and realise how damn expensive it is not to do it yourself. If it works better for the men to cook and clean while women get the power tools out, then bring it on… and get on with it.