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Reframing “Handyman” 💪🔧

Despite huge progress in recent decades, the glass ceiling is still very much apparent in the corporate world—hurting women’s earning and growth potential. To overcome this hurdle, many women have turned to a more rewarding path: starting their own businesses.

At TaskRabbit, we are so proud to be able to offer a platform where anyone—regardless of gender—can build an independent business based on entrepreneurial values such as the flexibility to choose your earning rate, where you work, when you work, and what skills you use.

There’s a stereotype in which women perform the more traditional “female” skills of cleaning, organizing, and shopping, while men tackle “handyman” tasks like fixing things around the house, lifting heavy items, and assembling furniture.

We challenge that perception.

Every day on TaskRabbit, female Taskers tackle Help Moving, Minor Home Repair, Painting, IKEA Assembly, and you-name-it tasks across all of our categories. And they do it with ease.  The corporate world might pay women an average 80% of what men earn, but on TaskRabbit they are becoming increasingly higher contributors to TaskRabbit’s particular brand of “handywork.” In fact, the top two earners across the TaskRabbit network in the past three months are both females. After all, being handy involves tackling tasks through creative problem solving, skill, and a dose of “can-do” attitude. And our female Taskers do just that on a daily basis.  

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we talked to some of the impressive handywomen in our network to find out how they tackle these kinds of tasks and manage the evolution of the female role in their own homes.

Keep reading to hear some of their stories, starting from how they learned their handy skills, to tips for any women starting out in handy categories.

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newamandawVeteran military sergeant, LGBT advocate – St. Louis

amandaHow I became handy: My mother was an immigrant single parent, and growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money or help to fix things. My first ‘fix’ was in 3rd grade, when my mom’s sewing machine broke. She told me not to touch it. 10 minutes later, it was fixed.

Latest projects: I recently installed a four-piece mirror and an IKEA walk-in closet system, fixed sliding doors in my own home, and installed some motion sensors.

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 12.23.10 PMSkill I wish I had: Electrical work. I had a rogue light switch in my home that wasn’t connected to a breaker, and I didn’t want to turn off the power to the whole house. 110 volts doesn’t hurt THAT much.

Least favorite chore: Picking up after the dog.

How tasks get done in my home: My significant other and I just had our second baby, so we do whatever our baby girl says!

Tips for women starting out in “handy” tasks: Be confident. Be prepared. Sometimes you might get stuck; something might be too heavy or too large. It’s okay to ask for assistance. I do it all the time, and people respect that. Know your limits.

newsusanhHas a degree in fashion design, fan of home improvement shows – New York City

download_20190304_211344How I became handy: I have a degree in Fashion Design, and as one of those people who needs to do things with my hands, home improvement and redecoration shows are a go-to for me. DIY-ing many of my own home projects has allowed me a space in which I could make mistakes and discover what works and what doesn’t.

Latest projects: Cut, stained, and installed a new bedroom door; hung curtains; and mounted large shelves on some pre-war walls. 

Skill I wish I had: I’d like to hone skills in locksmithing, electrical work, and carpentry, and get to advanced artisan-level work in woodcarving and tile work.

Least favorite chore: Cleaning. Especially the dishes. I can happily sort and organize objects all day long, but a sink piled high with dirty dishes makes me want to scream.

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 12.22.58 PMHow tasks get done in my home: I am the organizer. I try to gently set everyone up for success in keeping their spaces neat and tidy. I am the head chef, so other people often do the dishes. My significant other and I do our laundry separately, as we have different soap preferences. My significant other manages car maintenance. I rally everyone to chip in on cleaning the communal areas of the house.

Tips for women starting out in “handy” tasks: Communicate often and clearly with the Client. It’s better to ask more questions and arrive prepared than the alternative. The other advice I would have is to DIY as much as possible. Mount your own TV, hang up your art, help a friend assemble their furniture. Hands-on experience is a great way to build confidence critical to performing well in the field.

newlatoyaVisual merchandiser and navy veteran, Lyme disease survivor – San Diego

latoya.pngHow I became handy: I got the handy bug from my mother. As a single parent, she made sure to teach me a lot about tools and how to use them so that I’d always know how to do the job for myself if the need arose. I took what she taught me and just expanded on it over the years.

Latest projects: Painting a piece of furniture I purchased from Craigslist.

Skill I wish I had: I’m always open to learning new skills!

Least favorite chore: Anything electrical, even changing light fixtures.

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 12.22.43 PMHow tasks get done in my home: Household chores are typically taken care of by me for the most part—again thanks to my mom. She’s a busy body with an immaculate home, so I try as much as possible to keep my home neat most of the time to avoid ever having to do any major cleaning.

Tips for women starting out in “handy” tasks:

Here are a few:

1) Only accept tasks that you’re completely comfortable doing and/or have had experience with. If you’ve never mounted anything, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for your first time ever doing it to be in a Client’s home. But check out YouTube (including TaskRabbit’s YouTube channel!) for inspiration and practice at home or with friends.

2) Measure twice and cut once. I always triple check my measurements and placement before ever putting holes into Client walls.

3) You don’t need a full tool bag to start! Start with the basics—a few screwdrivers, a stud finder, level, hammer, rubber mallet, and a measuring tape. Over time you’ll start to get a feel for what tools you use on a regular basis and what will make task completion easier.

newsamanthabRenovating a bus into a tiny house, dog mom – Los Angeles

samanthaHow I became handy: When I was a kid my family owned an antique shop. My mother always let me be creative and do whatever I wanted with the old furniture. When I got older, I worked in a lighting and home decor store where I picked up light installation and got the inspiration to paint architectural pieces and faux finishes in people’s homes.

Latest projects: Installed an under-the-cabinet microwave on a tile wall. That was tricky because I had to drill four ½ inch holes in the tiles without cracking them.

Skill I wish I had: My partner and I bought an airport shuttle bus, and we are turning it into a tiny home so we can travel while we work on TaskRabbit. I did all the bodywork on the bus, and next, I’m going to learn how to trace the electrical system and set up solar power.

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 12.22.50 PMLeast favorite chore: Dishes and laundry.

How tasks get done in my home: My husband and I share all the responsibilities of housework. We have a sort of mantra, “divide and conquer,” and we often pick up each other’s slack so that our busy life runs as smoothly as possible.

Tips for women starting out in “handy” tasks: Advice for the ladies? You CAN do it. Tackle some smaller projects in your own home until you get comfortable with the tools and you get some confidence in your techniques. A lot of skills can translate into other tasks. I use skills and techniques I learned sculpting to patch drywall, and I used those skills to patch a concrete porch and do bodywork on a bus.

newbrandymBiked 1,000 miles solo around Ireland, has assembled 400+ pieces of IKEA furniture – Portland

Brandy.MachadoHow I became handy: I’ve been handy with tools for most of my life. Growing up, my dad was always tinkering with something. He could scrape together a solution for anything using only the scrap pieces and random parts he had on hand.

Latest projectsRecently, I helped a woman move everything out of her house into a U-Haul. That included a log cabin style doghouse that weighed at least 300 lbs if not more. 

Skill I wish I had: I’d love to get more experience building things from scratch. Assembling IKEA furniture comes with a sense of accomplishment when you finish the items, but it’s even better when you get to stand back and take a look at something that you built all on your own.

Least favorite chore: Cleaning bathrooms.

How tasks get done in my home: We determine chores based on the best fit per individual, regardless of gender.

Tips for women starting out in “handy” tasks: Don’t be intimidated by skills that are considered more “masculine.” Anyone can be a great Tasker in any of those categories. Even if you are a smaller person, most of those tasks are more about brains than brawn, so just be diligent and detail-oriented and you’ll do great. Occasionally you’ll come across Clients who will doubt your abilities because of your gender, but just use that as motivation to do the best job you can and prove them wrong.

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Whether you’re a female Tasker hoping to break into the “handywork” categories on TaskRabbit, or a Tasker who already has some of these skills under your belt, we think these women’s stories are incredibly impressive. At a time when women face both challenges and opportunities to achieving gender equality, stories like these help remind us not only of what is possible, but also that there is room for a hopeful future.

The long and short of it is: you’ve got this.

We encourage all female Taskers to support one another’s handywoman journeys on TaskRabbit by sharing your successes with us so we can feature you in #TaskerTuesday. Comment below for a chance to be featured!

4 comments on “Reframing “Handyman” 💪🔧

  1. Pingback: #TaskerTuesday – Kathrin K. | The Burrow

  2. Pingback: #TaskerTuesday—Christina A. | The Burrow

  3. Arleen Mangual

    I have been a carpenter for aprx 14 yrs and have been painting since the age of 11. Love carpentry, painting, drywall, and basic home repair. But I keep getting tasks for plumbing and electric that I don’t feel confident doing. I can do simple basic electrical/plumbing but am definitely not an expert. I also love cleaning/organizing, etc. but removed cleaning from my skills as that was all I was getting called for, my carpentry skills were being overlooked and I’m sure its because people do underestimate women and their abilities to be just as handy, if not better, than men. I would love to learn more electrical and plumbing and wish Task Rabbit had more videos/tutorials, such as what are the most common products being assembled on the IKEA assembly tasks. I am a licensed home inspector but want more hands on experience before I can feel confident to start working form myself. I want to really know what I’m doing and be an expert and honest inspector, Props to all you ladies out there doing Handy work.

    • Kyra TaskRabbit

      Hi Arleen, thanks for your feedback! We are working on developing a video library of resources for all Taskers to improve their skills, so we hope to be able to provide you with these kinds of resources soon. Thanks for all you do as a female in our handy categories!

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