New York Union Plumber, Judaline Cassidy, is a big proponent of bringing women into the trades. She first acquired her skills in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. Judaline found great pride and freedom in her profession. After living and working in the states, she wanted to share the benefits of a Union job with other young people, in particular young girls. Women make up only 3% of the trade force.
Judaline started Tools and Tiaras, a nonprofit that focuses on educating and exposing girls to the trades. She offers workshops and summer programs, all taught by women currently working in the field.
“Plumbing wasn’t always my first choice. I wanted to be a lawyer. I love watching Perry Mason, LA Law, and any crime solving shows. When I was going to University it wasn’t a possible due to the passing of my great grandmother. She was my caregiver and support. I had to look for other means to lift myself out of poverty. Learning a Trade In Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Island I’m from, was free and I could mostly definitely afford that.
Then came the task of choosing what craft I should apply for next. So many women were applying for Dressmaking, Tailoring, Culinary, and other similar classes. I decided to improve my odds of being accepted by choosing a male dominated craft. My method of deduction then was: Plumbing you get wet, Electrical you get shock. Plumbing it is. The journey to become an awesome Plumber wasn’t a one way journey. I was a housekeeper, babysitter and nanny on my destination to becoming a Union Plumber.” –Judaline Cassidy of @tools_n_tiaras
“What fuels my passion is the heart, pride, and love of Trades. I want people to respect Trade workers and the structures we have been building for centuries. We need more skilled craft workers because there’s a shortage, and I want people to know it is a great option without any college debt, and you get paid while you learn.” -Union Plumber Judaline Cassidy of @tools_n_tiaras
“I wasn’t always confident, and I must admit I struggle with it sometimes. My confidence comes from the fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have a super power: Plumbing. Everyone needs a Plumber. Choosing to be a Tradeswomen is in itself a confident and daring action, so why not own it?” –Judaline Cassidy
Check out Tools and Tiaras to see how you can get involved: http://www.toolsandtiaras.org.
Meet Amber Williams, Timber Production Manager aka “Lead Lawg Dawg” at On Site Management in Bozeman, Montana.
“In 1997, I got a job after school working in a local cabinet shop. They made doors, cabinets and furniture that ended up in OSM homes a majority of the time. It was there that I learned traditional woodworking skills from journeyman cabinetmakers. Three years later I was unhappy with the limitations of cabinetry, I wanted something more. I had a solid base of knowledge giving me the confidence to transition from fine woodworking to heavy construction. I started my own business building furniture and cabinets as well as working for OSM as a subcontractor. After doing this for a year I applied to work for OSM full time as an employee. The atmosphere and ability to build the best homes in the area is something I am still proud of.” -Builder Amber Williams
“Being a builder is the only way I can make a living and be an artist at the same time. We build amazing works of functional art in remote locations that people can live in. This is the best of both worlds, the building experience of working in areas that most people will never see is unlike any other, and knowing that your work will withstand the test of time and be appreciated by generations. When building log assemblies, you don’t have the ability to work with traditional elements of level and square. It’s up to each team member to see the twisted log and find a way to make it plumb or level and fit within the job. Our end goal is to make each piece appear as though it grew together. Working with your hands allows each person at the end of each day to stand back and say, ‘I built that!'” -Builder Amber Williams
Amber’s advice for anyone looking to get into the building industry:
“Be true to yourself, listen to your gut, and always do your best. You will never please those around you so don’t waste your energy. Remember to be kind to yourself, the world is hard enough as it is, don’t add to the insecurities/negativity already thrust upon you. Allow your work to speak for you.”
Iron Maiden Welding, a small business in Bozeman, Montana, is owned and operated by Brenda Gayer. She’s been selling her work since she was 16 years old, and has now developed her brand into one of a kind, colorful works of art.
“Get out there and do it! Get a job where you can learn as much about it as possible. Even if you start at the bottom and work your way up. You can never learn enough.
Like anything, (welding) has its ups and downs. Attitude and confidence are the key. If you go into a situation with the ‘I got this!’ outlook, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman. Stay true to you! Be confident! Be confident!” -Welder Brenda Gayer
Tiffani, who’s been working with her for 2 and a half years, loves the job and hopes to create a small business of her own some day.
“I have been welding for 8 years now, and High School is where I discovered my passion for it. Welding was interesting to me, because it is something that has been a part of my family for generations. My father’s got his first job as a welder following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. I figured it was the perfect thing for me to try that was different and challenging.
I recommend that all young people try welding if they have the opportunity, or find some sort of trade that they find enjoyable and can be skillful at. Welding has given me a lot of job opportunities, and I think it is something especially women should try.
What I love about welding most is that it gives me the ability to express myself and be different, because not a lot of people I meet can do what I do.” -Welder Tiffani Eccleston
Click here to find out more about Iron Maiden Welding.