Yeah, I know, that's not news for most of you :) But I still find a lot of average folks, not just manufacturers, who haven't exactly cottoned to this idea yet. Women are not just smaller, weaker versions of men... we're actually built differently (besides the obvious bits and bobs!).
Men, in general, tend to be taller, have longer arms and legs, bigger hands, more upper body strength, more upper body control, and rely strongly on strength advantage. Men are usually successful at tasks that require using brute force. Men are more prone to acute wrenching injuries because they are less flexible.
Women, in general, tend to be shorter (except Big Sis!), have shorter arms and legs, smaller hands, more lower body strength, more lower body control, and rely strong on leverage advantage. Women are usually successful at tasks that require patience and dexterity. Women are more prone to chronic repetitive stress injuries because they are more flexible.
Now, this doesn't mean that women can't do most of the same tasks as men, nor that men can't do most of the same tasks as women; but the TOOLS and METHODS we use to accomplish them are going to be different because we're physiologically different. This all seems elementary, but stop and think about how many times we've just assumed that we're incapable of accomplishing a task, or that we are going to slower or less efficient at them, and never actually stopped to consider that the problem might be the tool or method we're using?!
Let's give some examples, shall we?
1. Pull cords -- most women have difficulty pull-starting combustion tools like lawnmowers, chainsaws and generators. 90% of the time this is because the pull cord is TOO LONG for their maximum reach, not that they aren't strong enough to pull the cord and kick the engine over. Women have to devise all sorts of "full body" workarounds that are commonly unnecessarily dangerous... wedging the chainsaw in the crotch of a tree, kicking the lawnmower away while pulling, standing with one foot against the generator and launching backwards. So why do we keep trying to use them when the pull cords simply too long?? Unless the engine catch point is so far back in the wind that it needs the full length, you can normally shorten the cord without negatively affecting the operation (of course, DH might have problems "pulling short" afterwards).
2. Handles -- almost every heavy-duty out there has a big, long handle to allow a man to jab, thrust, lever or lift it comfortably using upper body strength or height advantage. Most women don't have the upper body strength or height to use the tool that way, but could do the same task with a shorter/smaller handle and tool design that allowed us to maximize lower body strength and abdominal/lower back advantage. And that's not even mentioning the actual grip on the tools, it's pretty hard to use something if you can't even close your hand around it (this is a particular problem with handguns and cordless tool battery packs!). So women keep trying to ram a shovel into the ground with brute strength and yank it back with brute strength, because that's how a man does it and how the tool is designed... but women could dig a ditch just as fast with a shorter shovel that allowed for stomping the blade in and using the pelvic region (rather than the shoulder region) as the leverage point.
3. Size and Weight -- let's face it, I'm a pretty strong woman and 50lbs isn't that totally difficult for me, but most women can't and shouldn't be lifting and lugging 50lbs around all the time (that's a 7yo child!!). If women can carry this much, it's usually easier for them to do it on their hips or against their body than by the shoulder or out in front/on side. BUT the most common sizes of things are 50lbs... feed sacks, 5 gallon fuel/water jugs, bulk boxes of nails/screws, bags of concrete and topsoil. Now I know that larger sizes for bulk items means less packaging and cheaper prices, but many of these items can't even be found anywhere near affordable (of at all) in a smaller, female-friendly size (like concrete!!) so women have to wait around for men to help them, or carry around smaller containers to divvy it up into smaller sizes themselves, or use some other tool (cart, lift, jack) to pick up and move the item. This is a real problem with things like tractor and trailer hitches and implements/attachments... I have to use a jack or lift to get most of these things hooked up, but it would be MUCH safer if the implement just had a built-in/welded crank jack on the tongue in the first place! Buckets are my favorite... the average man, being taller with stronger arms, can actually carry a 5 gallon bucket at his side with minimal difficulty; but the average female will hit herself in the knees over and over whether she carries it one-handed to the side (if she can!) and especially if she carries it two-hand in front of her.
Now, this isn't all one-sided, men have the same difficulties using tools and methods for tasks that have conventionally been female-oriented. I've seen men struggle with sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, cooking implements, and baby strollers because the sizes and heights are too small. So, ladies, your husband may suck (pun intended!) at vacuuming the house because the handle is just too darned short!
Tall women still have physiological differences that make mens tools difficult to use; and short men still have physiological differences that make womens tools difficult to use. A short man can still use a mens tool easier than most women, and a tall woman can still use a womens tool easier than most men.
So next time you think you can't do a task or that you simply suck at it, consider whether it's really you or the tool/method that's the limitation :D I know the old adage is "A poor worker blames their tools"; but I challenge even the best worker to do good work with bad/wrong tools!!!