Social media — whether you love it or hate it — has completely changed the world. And believe it or not, with its infinite possibilities and the capacity to build a virtual bridge between users from every corner of the planet, social media might even have the power to change the world of drywall too. Some of the benefits are already evident. Not only has it allowed drywallers to expand their job opportunities with the means to present their work online, but it has also opened doors to the possibility of further diversifying the trades.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 11 percent of the construction industry was comprised of women and 8.6 percent of them occupied office positions. When it comes to working in the field, still only 4.5 percent of construction laborers are female. The question is: does social media truly have the power to break industry stereotypes? We sat down with two social media superstars — Drywall Shorty (Lydia Crowder) and The Muddy Girl (Mari Kaschalk) — to find out just how much of an impact social media has had on them.
No More Room for Trade Secrets
It may be hard for many younger tradespeople to remember what the drywall industry was like before social media took over the world more than a decade ago. One thing we know for sure is that seeing women on jobsites was uncommon, but the root of this issue goes beyond the lopsided gender ratio in this industry. Lydia Crowder recalls that, 19 years ago, when she started working in the field, the drywall community “was much more closed off.”
“I think there has been a lot more sharing going on with social media,” Lydia told us. “People are more willing to share their tips and tricks and encourage others. It started to become more of an open community instead of being so closed off and secretive.”
Mari Kaschalk shares the same point of view. “You couldn’t research drywall or how to do this and that or the tools,” she says. “You had to rely on other drywallers that you would come across. Now, with social media, you have access to that information. You can learn a lot quicker, pick-up tips and tricks. That’s a huge benefit of social media.”
Moreover, social media allows drywall finishers to connect and build relationships with companies and fellow drywallers, which provides access to tools that make their jobs more efficient and more fun. Sharing educational drywall content on social media makes learning easier and faster, thus transforming the industry into a more approachable career path for anyone, especially women.
Encouraging a Community of Women in Drywall
Instagram alone attracts around 1.3 million global users every day, so no matter how many followers or likes you have, you’re still reaching a wide audience. More importantly, the most advanced social media algorithms will share your content with users who have similar interests, making your impact greater than you could ever imagine. With over 183 thousand followers, 25 percent of whom are women, it’s amazing how much impact Drywall Shorty can have on encouraging more women to either join the trades or take up home-improvement projects.
“I have women reaching out asking me how to get started, how to deal with certain situations at work depending on how people are acting or how they are getting treated,” Lydia says. “A lot of them are asking how to get into the trades. Sometimes they need to do simple patchwork and they need a walkthrough, or they just ask questions that they’d feel silly asking but because I am a woman, they feel like they can come to me with questions they wouldn’t normally ask somebody else.”
The reach one can have on social media is groundbreaking. And even though women still occupy a small portion of the drywall industry, they are making an impact by utilizing social media to show that drywall finishing can be a job for anyone and providing access to support and information that makes it easier for other women to pursue their passions. Beyond that, opening the door to more women in drywall addresses the ongoing shortages in skilled labor.
What else can we do with social media?
It’s easy to perceive social media as this collection of apps that take up too much of our time, but there’s so much more to those one-minute videos. By posting a video of herself putting up a giant piece of drywall, Mari Kaschalk shows other women that, if she can do it, they can too.
“I’d like to hope that it helps other women realize that they can do this and that they don’t need to be insecure about it or lack confidence, says Mari. There are a lot of women doing it and we work really hard. There may be some judgment, but you just ignore that, fight through it and prove them wrong. You show them that you are a hard worker and you do good work.”
Social media is truly a great asset for women. It’s a library of resources that can help them get started in pursuing a career in the trades. It’s also a virtual space that allows for building an open and encouraging community for women in drywall. Finally, it’s a megaphone that amplifies voices, which can help us recognize industry stereotypes and do away with them for good. We asked Drywall Shorty to tell us what she’d like to do next with her impressive platform. She says she hopes to “change the idea of drywall being a low rate or dirty job and educate people on the process that it takes to get through it. Hopefully, that can all turn around and make the industry better, make people more money, and encourage a deeper appreciation of the process that goes into finishing drywall.”
She will also continue to answer even the toughest questions from her followers in hopes of inspiring the youth and women to join the trades. There’s so much potential in social media, so let’s use it wisely.
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