Women now just as likely to answer DIY SOS than men

DIYHome improvement brands are being urged to ditch the alpha-male advertising stereotypes on the back of a new study which shows almost half of women (47%) are now taking on more DIY in the home than men.

According to new research by retailer Wickes, which quizzed 1,500 women on their relationship with DIY since 1972 to mark its 50th birthday, with nearly three-fifths (59%) saying they take on far more DIY tasks around the home than their mothers or grandmothers ever did.

Four in ten of those surveyed said they have had to pick up DIY tasks from male family members who abandoned projects mid-way through.

Painting and decorating topped the poll for the DIY task women undertake the most without the help of men (79%), followed by upcycling, such as painting furniture to updating items around the home (55%), and wallpapering (43%).

Design historian Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan, of the University of Portsmouth, who worked with Wickes on the study, said: “Fifty years ago, there were considerable barriers to women taking the lead in anything other than decorating, even though some men and women worked together on DIY tasks.

“Not only were they often not taught the skills by a family member or friend but at school they were encouraged to take domestic science and needlework rather than woodwork and metalwork.

“Women also lacked financial independence to initiate DIY projects of their own. Despite new legislation, it was still difficult for women to own their own home and although more had entered the workforce their pay lagged far behind men’s.”

The study reveals almost three in five (59%) said they take on more DIY tasks in the home than older female relatives would have in the past 50 years.

It also outlines the barriers that prevented women of 50 years ago from being as DIY independent as women are now, with the biggest culprit being male friends or family members who would undertake all the DIY tasks around the home (55%).

To encourage the female DIY class of 2072 to be even bigger than now, almost three in four (72%) said DIY skills should be taught in school.

And over half said family members (54%) and YouTube (52%) were the biggest help learning how to do DIY, followed by online searches (33%), television (16%) and Instagram and Pinterest (14%).

Professor Ryan added: “In the early 1970s, many DIY manuals and magazines positioned men as the lead DIY-er with women merely as assistants. Where women were addressed directly, it tended to be by male experts. From the 1990s onwards, female presenters and experts on DIY-focused television shows have acted as role models to inspire women.

“Reality television then brought new female DIY talent who have gone on to have professional careers. In the age of social media, women are inspiring each other– from mood boards on Pinterest, reels on Instagram and Millennials and Gen Z posting on TikTok under #GirlsWhoBuild with over 89 million views.

“It’s amazing to see the shift in attitudes surrounding women and their role in DIY, and inspiring to see brands such as Wickes celebrating this whilst acknowledging how much work there still is to do.”

Wickes chief marketing officer Gary Kibble added: “The world was a very different place when Wickes arrived on the scene in 1972, and DIY was almost exclusively a male preserve. Since then, there have been five decades of change, and it’s great to see that DIY is something that everyone can enjoy and be involved in.”

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