Whoever said that tools aren’t for girls has never met Judaline Cassidy. Cassidy is the chief visionary officer of Tools & Tiaras Inc., an organization whose mission is to advance the interest of girls ages 6-14 who want to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields like mechanical, industrial, technical and the trades.
For years, swinging a hammer or turning a wrench have been positions filled by men. In fact, 98% of electricians and plumbers are male, as is 89% of the construction industry, according to the 2021 report “Skilled Trades in America” by Angi. The percentages also show that black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are greatly underrepresented – only 9% of plumbers are BIPOC.
Cassidy has a passion for turning those numbers around. She’s a history-making plumber with more than 25 years of experience and started Tools & Tiaras with the idea that “jobs don’t have genders.” Her organization helps girls who have an interest in any area of construction. Through monthly workshops and summer camps, girls learn from other women in skilled trades and build confidence to pursue a nontraditional career path.
This year, Tools & Tiaras hosted an event in recognition of the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl, which was adopted in 2011 by a United Nations General Assembly resolution. Each girl got an opportunity to build her very own “Mighty Minka,” Tools & Tiaras’ signature Strong-Willed Warrior. Mighty Minka represents the core of the Tools & Tiaras’ message, “Where strong girls are forged.”
"I had this vision for Mighty Minka as a really cool way to introduce our T&T girls to copper pipe plumbing,” said Cassidy. “I built the prototype, and she was more amazing than I imagined! She's the perfect embodiment of what we do at T&T and what International Day of the Girl is all about. I knew I had to make this happen. Our friends at RIDGID stepped up with their new copper pipe press tool, and all we needed were the fittings. But copper fittings are expensive, especially for a grassroots nonprofit like us. When Viega heard about our workshop, they swooped in and offered to supply us with all the fittings our girls would need to build their own Mighty Minkas. We were so excited! It’s invaluable support like this that helps us do what we do and keep our summer camps and monthly workshops free to every interested girl. We’re grateful to have friends like Viega who choose to join our mission of showing girls that 'Jobs Don’t Have Genders'."
Viega was proud to support this mission and donated 80 ProPress fittings for them to use to build Mighty Minkas. “Being able to support an event like this means there will be more skilled tradespeople working in this industry in the future,” said Tricia Musgrave, director, customer success and training at Viega. “Teaching girls how to use press technology is a great way to show them what is possible as a career path and how easy it is to learn how to press. The confidence they build gets them excited about learning more. Tools & Tiaras is absolutely right ‒ jobs don’t have a gender and we were thrilled to be involved.”