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DIY Decline: Are Men Less Handy Than They Used to Be?

Filed Under: Know-How

A new study shows that less men are doing their own home repairs. Could DIYers be an endangered species?

DIY projectsA walkway and house addition, both built by the writer's father -- Steve -- at her childhood home. Photo: Courtesy of Nikki Pepper


I grew up with a dad who could do everything -- and I'm not exaggerating because I'm his daughter. He built our beds and dressers; he designed and landscaped our yard; he even drew out and built an addition to our house. When it came to fixing things, my dad was the go-to guy, not just for us, but for friends and family, too.

Fast forward to my own home -- a city apartment that I share with my boyfriend. Now, I know that not everyone can build and fix like my dad. And don't get me wrong -- I love my boyfriend just the way he is. But he's just not a Mr. Fix-it kind of guy. At all. We managed through the IKEA boxes, but when it came to buying the right energy-efficient lightbulbs and adding shelving to our closet, I knew who to call.

Luckily, my dad likes being my DIY go-to. But seeing the divide between his home improvement skills and my boyfriends' made me think: What other Gen X-ers out there can't tell a back saw from a jab saw?

Apparently quite a few. AA Home Emergency Response conducted a study that shows a new breed of "techno-sexual" men has surfaced. Home repairs are being ditched in favor of technological prowess. Which leaves me -- and the girlfriends and wives of these techno-sexuals -- with amazing HD TV...but also a leaking sink.

Over the past 40 years, the percent of men able to perform home maintenance needs has steadily decreased. In 1970, 71% of men had a full DIY arsenal, compared to just 44% now. Why the decrease? Two main reasons: Fathers aren't passing down the skills needed and tech savviness has become more desirable.

So how long before DIY goes the way of the dinosaurs? AA estimates that at this rate, DIYers will be "extinct" by 2048. Because the more masculinity becomes more tied up in wires and pixels, the less confident men feel in their ability to conquer DIY projects.

I don't know how accurate this prediction is. After all -- who exactly will be painting fences or installing new windows in 2048? While studies like this one are best taken with a grain of salt, I think it's worthwhile to use it as an excuse to stop and reflect the next time something breaks down in my home. It might just be the perfect opportunity to encourage my dad to pass down his fix-it skills to me.

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  • Maritza

    It would be interesting to see if the number of DIY women has risen since the 1970's. I know that I'm doing the majority of my own home improvement because my bros-in-law are either tech savvy or financially savvy but neither can swing a hammer and because I'm thrifty and find it fun to fix things myself.

    With all the home improvement shows on TV are we feeding the DIY center of our brains with these shows therefore not feeling the need to go out and really do it ourselves?

    Very interesting article!

    Reply
  • Jeanne

    I love doing landscaping when I have the time. Http://www.landscapinginfosite.info I'd rather do it than rely on my husband - I want it done my way!! LOL!


  • MoonBeamWatcher

    Not for NOTHING . . . but the prerequisite is a measure of COURAGE and some COMMON SENCE!
    A combination of these two elements gives you/us a capable individual. Male or Female. (period)
    Geeks can help their wife or girl friend (or significant OTHER, PC speak) by doing a web search for solving the issue/problem of the moment. Myself, I always find pride in being self sufficient.
    Unfortunately one of my daughters is far more capable around the house then her extra smart husband who compensates by being a damned good first baseman. One laughable moment, I bought a box of assorted springs to repair a brass heavy weight Italian sailboat hook. Had choice at home supply store of buying a China made one for $2.00 or the "Springs for Life" assortment. I now have a zillion springs . . . that cost me $3.00. But have more then a dollars worth of satisfaction!


  • marisol

    Men today are spineless lil punka&&es. Then can barely wash their own behind


  • June

    I was born in the 30s and believe me, I see as many or more men who can diy today better than the men of old. At least my sons can.

    Reply
  • Bev

    I totally disagree with you on this one. I was born 1950 and the majority of the men today are a far cry what the older men. Bring it to a shop, get someone else to do it I have other things to do. I see many males today that will be eternal boys. Very little responsibility and lazy. Not all, there are some exceptions and those exceptions usually come from the home that taught responsiblity and hard work and not laziness.


  • Wayne

    My Father grew up in the 1920’s and could repair just about anything; From rebuilding a car engine, plumbing, electrical, to structural repairs and upgrades to the house. He instilled a lot of that in me, though I’m not quite the DIY he was. My Father in law however, same generation as my father, can’t drive a nail into a board straight. His idea of car maintenance is emptying the ash tray. When he hears I’m “working” on the car (usually changing the oil) he says “What’s wrong with it now?” no conception of preventative maintenance.


  • elle

    My better half does everything from A-Z, automotive mechanical, body repairs to building his own motors for our boat, cleaning the house, dishes, everything with home repairs, we bought a sewing machine yesterday and it sure isn't for me. So I disagree, he's repaired the roof and also won a legal settlement so No it depends on the man, and I'm trading mine in.

    Reply
  • jrgilb0729

    What a ridiculous excuse for journalism. Any moron can clean the house, wash clothes and cook. I can do all of that myself along with the day to day fix-up and "honey do" projects.

    Outside of that, all I need from a woman is sex, and I can find that anywhere.

    Not all men are handy. Not all women can cook and clean very well either.

    By the way. This ain't the 50's. Grow up and get over it.

    Reply
  • stew

    wow! a woman is only there for sex? tell me....what do you do the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day?


  • A proud American

    It's all about need to ---- and to a point, how or if they were thought.
    I grew up in a household were the need to do it yourself was essential.
    Today I can repair most anything but I make enough money to have the big projects done buy a professional.
    That might be why there are fewer DIY puttering around now.

    Reply
  • cher

    I agree with the article. My dad did everything around the house. My ex couldn't do anything. I had every type of person on speed dial. And because of this I bet my son won't be able to do anything either. He is very good with electronics!

    Reply
  • Frankie

    I think with many people it's a matter of being cost efficient. For example, a man may take 6 hours to do a lawn clean-up for spring. If he worked those 6 hours, he could make enough money to pay someone else to do the lawn clean-up AND have enough money left over to take his family out to dinner. I'm sure this is not the case with every family, but it sure is for some.

    Reply
  • rich

    It is all about saving money, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters charge big bucks and too often don't do a great job, so I learned how to do most repairs and tried to teach my daughters the basics. They are way handier than their male partners even if they weren't really interested in dad's lessons growing up. The interesting thing is their guys aren't at all concerned that the girls can paint circles around them.

    Reply
  • DH

    Maybe the boys are not concerned if the girlfriend can 'pain circles around them' becasue the boys are smart enough to know it's not a contest. Your attitude is just what demoralizes some boys: an adult female who shames them for lack of skill in some area of life.

    An adult woman would encourage the boys and girls to help each other work together to improve their overlapping and sdeparate skills.... just like real adult parents who are normal do.


  • DMAC581

    There are a lot less men that are willing to try to do anything themselves. I have a construction company. I can do whatever, but I learned basics from mey father or grandfather. Once you have a clue, you can start to figure the rest out foir yourself.
    One problem today is that father's work more than eight hours a day. They loose that time to show the kids how to do something themselves. they figure it is easier to just pay someone else.
    Another difference is the educational system. Many people are pushed toward college, and shouldn't be. Some people need technical or trade schools. Vocational technical programs are disapearing from school all over the country, some because parents wrongly push their kids toward college and don't pay attention to their kids interest.
    A lot of women do this work for themselves now too, good for them.

    Reply
  • kenney lee

    The men of today are a bunch of Sissy Boys who as a rule preferre to play computer games than lean anything about wood working, auto repair or even planting and maintaing a small graden unless it;s pot plants. I fear that if and when the time comes should China or the Sovets decide to invade America the men of today will meet them with a game controler. All of the real man join the Military but the Sissy's meet at Starbucks or McDonalds to talk about their new game or some Mullet they know.

    Reply
  • jesse

    Holy Cow. Just yesterday, my wife and I were talking about this exact same subject. It came up when I told her about a friend in his 60's, who started a business of handyman with a list of customers who pay him a set fee to fix things like replacing lights, faucets, change oil in lawn mowers, blown outlets or install hardwood or tile in smaller areas. I thought he wouldn't get a single call. Not true. He's overwhelmed.

    Reply
  • melis

    ITS NOT THE FATHERS AREN'T TEACHING THEIR SONS, THE SONS DON'T WANT TO LEARN AND SHOW NO INTEREST IN DOING ANYTHING THAT DOESNT HAVE TO DO WITH A COMPUTER OR VIDEO GAMES. AND TODAY YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE THE ATTITUDE JUST TAKE IT AND GET IT FIXED OR CALL SOMEONE TO FIX IT. NOT THINKING IT COST MONEY TO DO THAT AND MOST OF THEM DON'T EVEN WORK. WOW what a shame.. they will learn someday that its a good idea to know how to do somethings like at least change a tire, and know how to put oil in your car or air in your tire. its pretty sad.

    Reply
  • Jim

    Right on. The question might well be: "Are Women More Handy Than They Used to Be?"

    Reply
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