House & Home

Women and Home Improvement: Recommended Resources

Posted March 10

"I am woman, hear me roar ..." went the 1970s hit song by Helen Reddy, whose iconic lyrics encouraged the empowerment of the female half of the population. Nowadays, that message could be updated to "I am woman, hear me saw ..." as greater and greater numbers of women begin to take on the previously male-dominated field of home improvement. Our role may vary from Do It Yourself (that is, performing all the physical work involved in a project) to Direct It Yourself (making informed choices regarding design and materials for a large-scale bathroom upgrade, kitchen remodel, or home addition, then proceeding to select and supervise the appropriate contractors to carry out our vision). In the process, we achieve the satisfaction of shaping our own environment. What's more, in 2016's social media loving atmosphere, we are able to share every step of the process instantly with family and friends, next door or on the other side of the globe. Here are some resources to help us along the way.


Big box home stores frequently offer free classes. Some of these are aimed at women only -- which hold out the promise of a safe space to learn about DIY without the distraction of male criticism or attention hogging. There has been some criticism, however, of "do-it-herself" instruction that seems to assume that female students are all at a beginner's level and interested mainly in creating pretty decorative objects rather than tackling hard-core subjects like hanging drywall. You might prefer a course given at your local community college or by a private instructor to acquire more advanced skills.


Books are a readily available source of information on home improvement and repair that offer one great potential advantage -- they are both portable and clearly visible. I'd find it easier to lug a book out to the workshop or garage and follow its step-by-step photo instructions, rather than squinting at images on a small screen; you may well agree. Interestingly, when I searched "home improvement books for women," the results included how-to tomes on all sorts of task but none directed specifically at females. There was one intriguingly titled "Do-It-Yourself Family," packed with home renovation projects for every room of the house and designed to get every member of the family involved.

Internet Blogs and Videos

Turning to the Net, you'll find a plethora of home improvement blogs and videos. I particularly like one titled See Jane Drill (just the name made me sit up a little straighter in my computer chair). This website is centered on clear videos and articles which deal with challenging topics like "How to Sand Drywall Using a Pole Sander" or "How to Repair Cracks in Asphalt Driveway," presented by hosts Leah and Karen. The site's motto is especially empowering: You can do this!

Social Media

One of the most important resources for home improvement information, encouragement, and general camaraderie is sites featuring user-generated content. Think Pinterest, chat rooms, and other social media. While their initial draw is mainly pretty pictures, users are extremely generous in sharing their home improvement tips and experience -- successful or otherwise -- or providing suggestions and (mostly positive) feedback to fellow readers. This type of accessible online interaction is important to today's woman, whether she is a multitasking working woman, a stay-at-home mom struggling to make ends meet in today's economy, and/or one of the increasing number of single female homeowners. Online home improvement hubs provide not only tips and instructions, but also a sense of community.

Happy International Women's Day!

Laura Firszt writes for

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