Tools & Tiaras: Teaching girls about trade work

Why does Judaline Cassidy want girls everywhere to learn how to fix leaks, use a soldering iron and understand electrical wiring?

Cassidy explains that while in recent years, there has been a much-needed focus on teaching STEM to girls (who have long been left out of such educational opportunities), the fact is that much of this effort has been geared towards technology. While it is wonderful to make sure that girls are being included in this industry, Cassidy says it’s equally important to make sure that girls learn valuable skills such as plumbing, construction, carpentry and automotive maintenance.

“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,” she said.

In an effort to help make this a reality across the globe, Cassidy (who was the first women to be accepted into Plumbers Local Union No. 371 in Staten Island) has created the organization Tools & Tiaras. The goal of this group is simple: To help make male-dominated fields like construction more welcoming and equitable for women and girls.

Currently, women only make up about 3 percent of the workers in mechanical, industrial and technical trades (such as plumbing, carpentry, electrical, masonry and many other skilled crafts). With Tools & Tiaras, Cassidy hopes to help change that extremely low number and empower girls to learn how to use their hands and interact with their world in a fearless, constructive way.

“Girls are truly excited and ready to work with their hands. 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!'” she said.

Tools & Tiaras is having their first all-girls Construction Skills Day Camp in Brooklyn this summer, and Cassidy is already planning a curriculum which will help to establish Tools & Tiaras chapters all over the country. You can learn more about their¬†upcoming events on the organization’s website.