'Tools & Tiaras' NYC workshop introduces girls to construction trades

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- A group of young girls from the New York City-based non-profit Tools & Tiaras participated in a plumbing workshop sponsored by LIXIL Americas in Midtown Thursday.

Tools & Tiaras is committed to advancing the interest of young girls in traditionally male-dominated industries, including those who may want to be an electrician, carpenter, plumber or even an auto mechanic.

As part of the multi-day camp, which teaches girls through hands-on projects in construction trades, campers will experience a plumbing workshop led by Tools & Tiaras Founder Judaline Cassidy.

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"These jobs pay really well and they're very rewarding," Cassidy said. "I used to be, on the job site, the only woman on the whole construction site. Not just the plumber, but the only woman. And I really wanted a lot more women to know that they can be in the skill trades without a college degree."

Armed with plumbing knowledge, the campers will have their own opportunity to practice installing kitchen and bathroom faucets, provided by American Standard.

"It's just fun," camper Robbie Zito-Ferraro said. "Tomorrow we get to go to an actual construction site."

The event helps bring to life the Tools & Tiaras mission to empower girls to lead and succeed.

"We have free monthly workshops for women and girls," Cassidy said. "We teach them architecture, welding, auto mechanic, engineering, coding, iron welding, everything. And not only do we teach them the trades, we also also teach them finances...yoga, mediation, stuff like that. They do a lot of other things."

Through workshops and camps, Tools & Tiaras' mission is to change the way our society views and portrays what constitutes "women work."

Presently, women represent less than 10% of workers in the Building Trades.

"Tools and Tiaras is one of those organizations that is mentoring and encouraging women and young girls to realize that they can also do the jobs that men do," LIXIL Americas Communications Director Debbie Drury said. "Jobs have no genders."

Plumbers are retiring at a faster rate than they can be replaced, and for every person that enters the trades, five retire.

A possible solution to this shortage could be women, especially considering that in 2020, only 2.3% of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in the U.S. were women.

"It was really cool when we worked with sheet metal and we were folding it, because I never knew you could fold a piece of metal with your hands," camper Paige Brown said. "It gives you more confidence and it makes you feel like, oh you can do it as well, and it's really empowering and inspirational when you see a woman doing a job that you want."

LIXIL Americas is committed to making a positive impact in the communities it serves and has supported programs that encourage the pursuit of plumbing as a profession.

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The alignment of the two organizations is part of LIXIL's Trade Up effort, a platform created to help shrink the growing skilled labor gap in the U. S. and inspire more people to pursue plumbing as a viable career option.

CLICK HERE for more on Tools & Tiaras, and HERE for more on LIXIL's Trade-Up program.

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