This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Empowering Women: A Guide for the Design of Hand and Power Tools That Accommodate Women's Needs




Urda, Jacqueline

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


Women are the largest group of consumers in the United States and are involved in approximately eighty percent of consumer purchasing decisions. Traditionally, American women have been the major purchasing agents for their families, and today this still holds true. In recent years, women have been making more purchases in conventionally male-oriented markets such as consumer electronics and home improvement. Many companies that have traditionally catered to men, specifically home centers and tool companies, are altering their business and marketing strategies to meet the demands of their new customer base, women. Traditionally a male-dominated, contractor market in the 1980s and early 1990s, home improvement today has become mélange of professionals and Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers), many of whom are women. The market’s transformation is due in part to larger numbers of female homeowners, to increased visibility of female carpenters and designers on home improvement television, and to changes in the social roles and the economic status of women. Home centers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s have modified their store interiors, including wider aisles, brighter lighting, and improved store organization, to better meet women’s needs and shopping habits. Tool companies, such as Ryobi and Makita, have designed smaller and lighter versions of their power tools to accommodate women. Barbara K! and Tomboy Tools, women-owned tool companies, offer tools designed with the female user in mind and focus on educating women about home improvement. The involvement of women in the home improvement industry is projected to increase steadily over the coming years as more single women purchase homes and become involved in the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement. Experts predict that home improvement stores and tool companies will continue to make their stores and products more comfortable and attractive to women in order to retain female consumers. This thesis establishes the need for hand and power tools designed specifically with women in mind and provides guidelines for designing such products.