Meet The Plumber Teaching Young Girls They Can Have Tiaras AND Tools

" ... my passion is to encourage young women from 1 to 100 years old to be relentless in the pursuit of your soul's passion."

Judaline Cassidy —  the first women to be accepted into Plumbers Local Union No. 371 in Staten Island and the first woman elected to the Examining Board of Plumbers Local Union No. 1 — has a mission to empower young girls everywhere to aspire to be in any profession they want — especially professions that are traditionally male-dominated. 


Since the 70s, the number of women employed in the mechanical, industrial, technical, and trades (MITT) fields has hovered around 3 percent, a fact Cassidy knows all too well. "I remember when I was a little girl growing up in Trinidad and Tobago — I wanted to be fearless, like Wonder Woman, Bionic Women, and Nancy Drew," she told A Plus via email. "In my teenage years, I lost that fearless warrior, so now my passion is to encourage young women from 1 to 100 years old to be relentless in the pursuit of your soul's passion."

Judaline Cassidy, founder of Tools & Tiaras Photo Credit: Jena Cumbo

That's why she founded Tools & Tiaras, a nonprofit teaching young girls and women about the careers and manual skills in the trades and construction fields. At its monthly workshops, conferences, and an all-girls summer camp, Tools & Tiaras exposes elementary, middle, and high school girls to hands-on projects in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and automotive. 

"Girls are truly excited and ready to work with their hands," she said. "Some are intimidated at the beginning, but with the guidance and encouragement that they receive from my fellow trades sisters, it quickly becomes, 'I did it!'" Cassidy recalled a moment when a girl from #5256 Girl Scout troop didn't want to participate in a soldering workshop. "But after watching the others solder, she decided to do it," Cassidy explained. "Her confidence skyrocketed. At the end of the workshop, she said she wanted to be a plumber." 

Cassidy leading the Tools & Tiaras soldering workshop with the Girls Scouts. Courtesy of Tools & Tiaras

One of the most rewarding parts of creating Tools & Tiaras are moments like this where Cassidy gets to share her passion for plumbing with women and girls. It's also why she aims to reach as many aspiring tradeswomen as possible with the organization's first all-girls Construction Skills Day Camp from July 9 through July 27 in Brooklyn, New York. "When that's accomplished, we will finalize our curriculum so that others can start Tools & Tiaras Inc. chapters all over the USA ... You know what, let's take Tools & Tiaras global," she said. "My ultimate dream and vision for Tools & Tiaras is that we become the next best thing for little girls — like the Easy Bake Oven — by exposing, inspiring, and mentoring a generation of girls that can bake, fix ovens, and fix everything else that needs building and fixing." 

To make this dream a reality, Cassidy must overcome obstacles, like securing funding for all these programs, that don't just affect her, but the futures of countless girls and, consequently, the American workforce as a whole. "Most people only want to fund programs related to STEM, not realizing that careers in construction is the 'EM' in STEM. That's why I started my own acronym MITT," " she explained. " ... I wish that our educators and leaders would recognize that bringing back the trades in schools is equally important, vital, and essential to our country ... All of us should be grateful for the workmanship of trade-workers that build the structures we inhabit daily." 

Cassidy and the Tools & Tiaras crew continuing the soldering workshop. Courtesy of Tools & Tiaras

But Cassidy isn't about to wait around and hope that'll happen on its own. Instead, she's leading the charge for change in an industry that's seen too little since its mid-century hay day. "Since 'Mario The Plumber' retired ... someone needed to step up as the number one plumber," she added half-jokingly. "So why not me?" 

And why not your daughter or sister or cousin or friend? "The time is now to invest in our future construction workforce women," Cassidy said. Those interested in doing just that can learn more about and donate to its female empowerment programs on the Tools & Tiaras website. 


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