Men have traditionally been the driving force behind home improvement projects. While women may have been involved in the decision-making process, in most cases they would send men out to make the actual purchase.

But according to leading consumer and retail information provider, The NPD Group, women are not only playing a larger role in the decision-making process around home improvement, they are actually making purchases more often.

While men still dominate purchasing of tools and power equipment, women account for more than half of the sales of storage/organization products and almost half of the sales of lighting, paint, kitchen/bath, lawn/garden, flooring, and safety.

In fact, women represent 44 percent of "do-it-yourselfers" and 51 percent of people that usually hire professionals for home improvement projects.

Additionally, the increase of female consumers in the home improvement industry is most significant in the East South Central region of the United States, where Hurricane Katrina caused so much damage last year.

While men and women both represent a similar percentage of sales in all other regions of the country, women in the East South Central region are accounting for three times as many home improvement sales as men.

Lowes was the number one retailer of choice for women shopping for home improvement products, with Home Depot a close second. Stores like Home Depot, Ace Hardware and lumber/building supply retailers attract more male consumers.

"It's important to acknowledge the impact women continue to make in the home improvement industry," says Mark Delaney, director of The NPD Group. He adds, "Now that a growing number of manufacturers and retailers have focused more marketing efforts on women, they are capitalizing on this growing trend."