Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sexism in home improvement

Yesterday, I went to Home Depot to pick up the wood for our trim. (select pine 1x4x6). As I was loading the wood in the car I was approached by a man in a tool belt who says "so, looks like you are doing some trim work. Are you doing it all by yourself?" I reply "no my husband will be doing it." To that, the guy walks away. I figured that he was looking to pick up some business but since I have a husband, I would not need help.

This isn't the first time I've been hit with the "oh you are a woman and can't be doing home improvement" situation. Shortly after we bought the place, we hired a few people to straighten our stairs that were pulling away from the wall. During the time, we were also working on framing. Glenn would handle the nailing, and might make a list of wood sizes to cut, and I would handle the cutting. Worked out well. Well, one of the stair workers was in disbelief that I would be using a power tool and had to watch me use the miter saw. After I made my cut, the guy applauded! A power tool! Unbelievable. That requires no brute strength, no technical skills, etc. What would they have done if they were here when I took down a wall, or the myriad of other activities that women traditionally don't do.

There are countless other examples which can be infuriating at times. (and don't get me started on the lack of work boots for women!)



Blogger StuccoHouse said...

It can be kind of funny/exasperating when they talk the equivilent of home restoration "baby talk" to you, can't it? Most of the time I just smile, but everynow and then I ask their opinion on something like using epoxy to repair rotted wood....or ask where the coping saws are.

Timberland makes womens work boots (that are actually kind of cute). Timberland Pro

October 21, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger SmilingJudy said...

I hear ya. Try dating while having those skills. Very few men aren't intimidated.

Duluth Trading also has a lot of women's work gear. Their gloves are the best!

October 21, 2006 10:53 PM  
Anonymous plainstext said...

I find this so frustrating, particularly when I ask a very specific question, and get a simplistic response that doesn't come anywhere close to answering my actual question. I grew up in the building supply/home improvement industry, so I'm pretty sure that I've forgotten more than most of Depot's sales people know. *sigh*

My favourite example involved asking for a moisture-graded 12/3 extension cord. The sales guy honestly wanted to know why I wanted a 12' 3" cord when they only came in 10', 12' and 15' lengths. It's funny now, but I was quite incensed at the time.

One thing that I'm beginning to notice, although it may take a while to filter into the home improvement market, in general, is an increase in tools that are specifically designed, not necessarily for women, but for people with smaller hands. For example, Estwing now makes a couple of smaller hammers, with a bit less weight to them, that are perfect for women, and have good ergonomics to boot. It would be nice to actually be able to use tools that fit, instead of struggling with stuff that's designed specifically for guys who're 6'3" and 240 lbs.

October 25, 2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Home Repair said...

Interesting article , this article make some interesting points.

Home Repair And Maintenance web

March 13, 2008 9:05 PM  

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