NEW YORK – These days, women have taken the phillips-head by the handle and have shown that they too can grout, stucco, plaster and refinish furniture while still managing to work and pick the kids up from soccer.
This trend in home repair can be attributed to a number of things including TV shows, tool companies that encourage women to find their inner Bob Vila and the changing face of American families.
Shows like Trading Spaces, which spotlight female carpenters, empower women to do way more than just hold a ladder while men change the light bulb.
Trading Spaces' cast carpenter Amy Wynn Pastor, who sports a tool belt embroidered with initials, has inspired women across the country to get down and dirty with a power saw.
"The [home improvement] shows give women the know-how to tackle jobs they might have been afraid of," said Doug Schmitz, General Manager of Ace Hardware in Bellmore, N.Y., who has seen an increase in the number of females venturing beyond the housewares section.
Joan McCloskey, editorial marketing director for Better Homes and Gardens, is delighted that women are taking on complicated projects and choosing to watch shows like Designing for the Sexes.
"Women have found that if they want something changed, it is easier if they get the idea, find a design and execute it themselves."
According to the Home Improvement Research Institute, in Tampa, Fl, home repair is a $187 billion industry in America. And Home Depot, the country's leading home repair chain, estimates that women were responsible for half of its sales last year.
In fact, Home Depot has introduced a nationwide workshop called "Ladies' Night," originally an alternative to Monday night football, that teaches women how to do everything from remove wallpaper to tile a foyer.
And these days many women aren't timid about tackling the most arduous home improvement tasks.
"I've put together furniture and stripped it to its natural wood," said Suzanne Kehati, a married mother of two. "I love Home Depot. I think it is awesome… And I'd rather watch Trading Spaces than Friends."
Also, companies like Tomboy Tools make tools specifically designed for a woman's hands so they don't have to wield big, clumsy saws or drills.
For many women, doing projects on their own is more than a choice; it's a necessity, especially as women get married later in life, purchase their own homes -- or just marry men who barely know how to hang a picture on the wall.
"My husband was good for nothing. I do things on my own because there is nobody else to do it," said now-single mother Theresa Leli, who has recently encouraged her 15-year-old daughter to take shop class over home economics.
And experts say teaching a young woman to be self-sufficient is vital to their self-esteem.
"Today, we know that a young woman's choices are directly related to the opportunities available to them and to the encouragement they receive," said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center.
But what about men? Do they feel threatened by a woman who can also build a tree house for the kids?
Schmitz from Ace Hardware said he's happy to let women take over the household repairs. "Go ahead... You guys fix it," he said.