Happy International Women’s Day!
Women in Repair

Happy International Women’s Day!

Everybody can repair. This is something we say often, and we mean it. Repair is something that you can learn. No matter who you are.

Today is International Women’s Day, the day to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and the world, and the day to remind us that in many ways, we are still a long way from a world where gender inequality doesn’t exist. Many professional spaces are still male-dominated.

And repair is no exception. 

Jessa Jones

When you were a kid, who did you turn to if a button popped off your jacket? And whom did you ask to fix the chain on your bike? Who repaired the doorbell if it broke, and who ironed patches onto your torn jeans? Of course, there are dads out there who mend torn clothes, and mums who take care of the electronics repairs around the house. But it’s still usually the other way around, at least that’s my experience in talking to friends and other parents.

Up until the 1970s, it was not unusual for schools in West Germany to teach girls how to knit and sew, while boys were taught how to use saws and screwdrivers. Things have changed since then in Germany, but many women have never drilled a hole into a wall, done an oil change on their car, or swapped their phone battery. Not because we can’t do it. But simply because we have never done it before.

Thankfully, things are changing. We see more and more women on iFixit, and women taking an active role in Repair Cafés everywhere in the world. We see parents teaching their children to repair and, most importantly, encouraging them to develop their skills and individual talents, regardless of outdated social norms and traditions.

It’s all about choice

In a perfect world, all children would grow up learning some basic repair skills, they would learn how to hold a screwdriver just as well as a sewing needle. Being able to repair things yourself means independence, and independence means freedom. If you don’t enjoy changing a car tire on a cold winter’s day or painstakingly taking your phone to pieces to change the screen, that’s fine. But you should have the freedom to choose.

So on this International Women’s Day, try learning how to repair something! 

Next time something breaks, get yourself a toolkit (or a sewing kit), find the right guide, and get started. Sure, you’ll make mistakes and things will go wrong at the beginning, but that’s fine! As your experience grows, you’ll get better and better. You’ll discover a whole new skill set you never knew about!

Becky Stern

And in case you still need some inspiration, take a look at some of the women in repair we have featured before, like Martine Postma, founder of the Repair Café Organization, or Jessa Jones, who taught herself to microsolder when her kids flushed her phone down the toilet.

Everyone starts somewhere. Whether you’ve been fixing things since you were eight years old or you’re just starting your first project, you’ll be surprised where the journey will take you.

Who knows—our next feature might be about you!