Are Home Depot’s ‘Do-It-Herself’ Workshops a Good or a Bad Thing?

business_ethics_highlights_2Consumerist relates the complaints of a reader irate about Home Depot’s ‘Do-It-Herself’ workshops: women-only sessions on home repair and home improvement topics. Home Depot is far from alone in offering sessions of this kind. Urban bicycle co-ops, for example, frequently offer women-only shop nights for do-it-yourself bicycle repair and maintenance. One interesting question is whether these women-only events constitute objectionable sexism (as Consumerist‘s irate reader seemingly maintains) or are instead the laudable provision of a ‘safe space’, sensitive to desires of women not be marginalized or humiliated in a mixed-but-male-dominated milieu (like a home improvement store or a bicycle shop). If it is sexist, is it sexist because these events exist at all (as the early part of the coverage seems to suggest) or because the topics of the ‘Do-It-Herself’ events are demeaning to, or inadequately serve, women (as the latter part of the coverage seems to suggest)? This piece could be used as a jumping-off point for a classroom discussion on frequently-invoked but often poorly-defined values like diversity and inclusivity. >>>

LINK: Home Depot Explains Why It Offers “Do-It-Herself” Workshops (by Mary Beth Quirk for Consumerist)

Interested in learning how to do a few handy things around your home? Home Depot, like some other retailers, offers free workshops to customers. In fact, it offers three types of workshops: The generic “Do-It-Yourself” classes, kid-friendly tutorials, and then “Do-It-Herself,” a category that has some wondering what a customer’s gender has to do with DIY home repair.

Consumerist reader Renate brought this to our attention after she used the Home Depot app to check out the workshops offered in her area.

She says the idea of separate classes for just women made her “really disgusted,” especially because Home Depot had become her favorite store since buying a fixer-upper — “bought all by my lonesome, too, imagine that!”

“What century are we in now?” asks Renate, who contends that Home Depot is perpetuating gender stereotypes by offering the different workshops. “And evidently women are only capable of building beverage crates, nothing truly practical like changing a faucet or repairing drywall for us delicate females!”

A rep for the retailer told Consumerist that the workshops have been around since 2003 and that they have been popular. After a few initial clinics held in the aisle of Home Depot stores, customers started to request formal clinics, the spokesman explained, “and females expressed interest in having their own clinics.”

As for the topics, the spokesman said they’re chosen based on surveys conducted after workshops.

What do you think?

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One comment

  1. LK

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Do-It-Herself distinction. Some women may prefer the women’s-only atmosphere to mixed-company and feel less intimidated if new to DIY projects or using power tools. The person who is complaining about it can just choose to attend the coed Do-It-Yourself workshops instead. I’m a strong feminist who regularly brings my 3 year old daughter to the kids’ workshops and I just don’t really see the big deal about a FREE program. Renate, use your soapbox to fight for topics that actually matter!

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