Kelly Ireland, “Tiny Plumber Girl,” paving way for women in skilled trades in Delaware County

LANSDOWNE, Pa. (CBS) – A Delaware County plumber is paving the way for women in skilled trades.

Master plumber Kelly Ireland is the owner of TPG Mechanical LLC. TPG stands for Tiny Plumber Girl, a nickname she earned during her eight years in commercial construction.

“I’m 4’11,” Ireland said. “I'm small. I do big jobs like taking out large stacks of cast iron.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2023, only 2.2% of plumbers, steam and pipe fitters were women.

“I've heard from a lot of women who sign up and it's just that they don't have the support,” Ireland said.

Throughout her career, Ireland has faced male attitudes and prejudices. She was often the only plumber on the job.

“The problem I struggled with just being a woman was men talking to me inappropriately,” Ireland said.

Despite the challenges, she is grateful for the mentors who helped her get to where she is today. She stays focused – something she conveys to others.

“If I can empower women or anyone else to find that passion and do good work,” Ireland said, “then that motivates the next generation to reach that potential.”

She inspires other women like Casey Wilbanks to enter the profession.

“As a transgender person, it's generally very difficult for me to work because there's so much stigma in the United States,” Wilbanks said. “I’m so grateful that Kelly was a really important part of my journey.”

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