Some girls like dolls, others like ponies. Norma Vally liked tools. The Brooklyn native remembers helping her father with fix-it projects as a very young girl, "whatever age a kid can hold a tool," she says, which turns out to be a great background, given her current status as the "Toolbelt Diva" on Discovery Channel's Emmy-nominated series.

Norma Vally
Norma Vally

And while her show, now in its fourth season, takes on home improvement for female homeowners, like a true Toolhound, the Diva has the chops of any guy who digs the tools of the trade.

"I'm a very physical, hands-on type of person," Vally says. "I love working with great tools and sinking my teeth into a project. I especially love having the right tool for the job." Vally honed to her skills while working on a century-old house she purchased. All the wiring, carpentry, and demolition raised her passion. She got a reality check when she went to work for a general contractor, but it didn't put a dent in her interest. "I was the new 'guy' on the job, which made me the candidate for all of the grunt work," she says. "So when we demolished a bathroom in a four-story walk-up, guess who had to carry all the debris down four flights of stairs in joint compound buckets? I never slept so well in my life."

A lot of men may not think of construction as a woman's world, but Vally feels the career opens more for women every day. "Men should know that women are dedicated, serious, and patient," she says. "Plus, we're perfectionists."

-Evamarie Socha