Whether you call yourself a DIY Queen or a Girl Who Builds, all over the UK woman are reclaiming DIY stores, picking up power tools and taking on DIY projects. What was once a predominantly male-focused sector is slowly shifting sides, as women feel more capable and empowered than ever before to carry out DIY tasks themselves.
Since the lockdown #GirlsWhoBuild has taken off on TikTok, and there has been an explosion in female DIY influencers emerging on both TikTok and Instagram. Content creator Jasmine Gurney @_OhAbode (opens in new tab), who launched her DIY Instagram channel in 2018, is just one of the names leading the charge for women in DIY.
In the last five years, she’s wracked up a strong following with her how-to DIY videos and renovation projects. ‘When I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), the only DIYs I did were putting IKEA flat pack furniture together, painting and vinyl wrapping our rented flat’s kitchen surface,’ says Jasmine.
‘When we bought our first house in 2018, it was a new build and lacked any personality or character, so I got to work documenting my mini projects and decor choices on my Instagram account.’
Throwing herself in at the deep end, Jasmine has become an expert DIY-er building her own decking, and even laying her patio in her first few years. ‘Next, I took on a whole shop fit, laid LVT flooring and tried my hand at tiling.
‘My confidence (and my tool collection) grew with each project and I’m now taking on room transformations and furniture builds for clients,’ she says. ‘I even consult on people’s projects, all the while passing on my knowledge to women through my channel. ‘
Jasmine is part of a wider community of DIY Queens based in the US and UK on social media. ‘Over the last 5 years, I’ve belonged to this incredible female DIY community and have met some great friends in my fellow DIY queens,’ she explains.
‘I began following incredible women like frills.and.drills (opens in new tab) over in the US, who gave me the confidence to take on the bigger projects, and made friends with the likes of Shade (homeofshade (opens in new tab)), Emma (diywithEmma (opens in new tab)) and Jessica (grizzle_abode (opens in new tab)), whom I started the community Female DIY Collective (opens in new tab) with.
‘Of course, there are hundreds of ladies across the UK and rest of the world absolutely bossing it that I’d love to mention, who inspire me every day. ‘
The reality of women taking up DIY
However, the female DIY takeover isn’t fully translating into real life beyond social media. In a survey by Wickes (opens in new tab) last year, when asked about how they compared to males in their life at undertaking DIY, more than a third (37%) of women said they are better at DIY than male siblings, family members, partners, and friends.
However, a high proportion of women said they still have self-doubt or little confidence when it comes to DIY. Over two-thirds (67%) suggested having something as simple as a female-led children’s TV show, like Bob the Builder, would have encouraged them as young girls to undertake or take-up DIY or home improvement.
Women in the trades
One of the most obvious gaps in women owning DIY and home improvement is the conspicuous absence of women in the trades industry. It is a problem that Anna Moynihan, the founder of TaskHer (opens in new tab) is hoping to fix with her site that helps customers to source skilled tradeswomen.
‘TaskHer was borne out of my frustration at the difficulty in finding tradespeople that didn’t just want to speak to my husband,’ explains Anna. ‘When I attempted to find a tradeswoman to fit our new kitchen, in the hope of an improved experience, it was all but impossible.
‘I looked into the statistics around women in skilled trades and saw the huge economic opportunity that is being missed out on by many young women who are conditioned into low paying, traditionally ‘female’ work in favour of skilled trades, which are well-paid careers dominated by men.’
She says that sourcing female tradespeople has been a serious challenge when launching TaskHer. ‘Whilst there is a growing community of tradeswomen out there, they still represent a small proportion of the overall number of tradespeople, with best estimates being around 5%.
‘In the mechanical trades, such as electrics, plumbing & gas work, where the barriers to entry are high but so is the earning potential, it’s estimated that just 1-2% of those on the tools are women,’ she explains. ‘That said, TaskHer offers a strong value proposition for them so when we do sign up a new tradeswoman to the platform we find they are highly engaged users.’
Anna says she has seen an increasing number of women turning to DIY. ‘I think the lack of qualified tradespeople in the UK, more women owning or renting properties alone and DIY brands becoming more inclusive has given women the impetus and confidence to undertake DIY tasks.’
However, she adds that more could still be done. ‘We need to remove the perception that skilled trades and DIY are somehow masculine or for men to do. This starts at a very young age with the toys we give to kids, ensuring they see positive role models challenging these gender stereotypes.’
Shows such as Interior Design Masters, showing both men and women contestants getting equally handy with a drill are all steps in the right direction. The women in DIY movement is only just starting to grow, better make space in the DIY store – here come the girls.
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