Men’s Shed and women: Should there be an open invite?

Sep 15, 2023
Including women has seen one local Men's Shed get a nice government grant. Do you think women should be allowed? Source: Getty

The Australian Men’s Shed Association is celebrating thirty years of providing a safe haven promoting health and wellbeing for men across Australia.

For three decades, men have attended their local shed to socialise and busy themselves with woodwork; it’s a place where they can feel good about themselves, be productive, contribute to the community, connect with friends and maintain a healthy body and mind.

In fact, there are more Men’s Sheds across the nation than there are McDonald’s! But could this iconic institution see a fundamental change in its attendees?

While She Shed’s already exist and are popping up across the country, it seems Men’s Shed clubs are beginning to welcome women as well.

According to the ABCthe Robertson Men’s and Women’s Shed in New South Wales is one of the few community hubs that have made women welcome.

“The idea of a shed came up in 2017 and it started off with some of the guys coming together and coming up with the idea,” coordinator Claire Hewat said.

“Then a few of the women said, ‘Well why can’t we be involved?’

“We now have a dedicated men’s day and a dedicated women’s day and we have mixed nights and days as well.”

Hewatt said the ladies day at the shed has been an amazing and inclusive change, offering the women who’ve always wanted to learn woodworking skills but were pushed into home economics in school, a chance to participate.

“A lot of men forget that it was actually the ladies who saw the need,” President of the Robertson Men’s and Women’s Shed, Graeme Hewat said.

“We give the ladies the confidence they need to use the equipment, but some days we are redundant — we just sit outside and have a cup of coffee.”

However, despite the benefits associated with the inclusion, the idea of welcoming women into the Men’s Shed hasn’t been entirely accepted by all, with members of the Starts at 60 community sharing their thoughts.

“Let the men have their men’s shed. It’s often a place where men feel valued, listened to and supported. They need their own ‘safe’ space,” one member wrote on Facebook. 

“Bad move, the whole idea was for men to get together and talk about certain personal problems they may have. Men’s shed do odd jobs, make all kinds of things & sell do repairs. Leave it for men, women have different clubs for women only,” commented another.

While it may be divisive for some, aside from the camaraderie and skills offered to the women joining, one major benefit from the inclusion has seen the shed secure a $291,000 NSW government grant to help fit out the shed.

How do you feel about women joining the Men’s Shed?

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up