The U.S. Department of Labor reports that women make up 47 percent of the workforce. Whereas there are more females employed as social workers, human resources managers, speech-language pathologists and dental assistants, men dominate the skilled trades. Only 1 percent of women are mechanics or installers in the HVAC industry.
That is going to need to change soon because there’s a severe shortage of people with HVAC skills. Many who are currently employed in the HVAC industry are baby boomers approaching retirement age. Women will be needed to fill the gap and some of the estimated 115,000 positions that will be created by 2022.
Women generally communicate well, pay attention to detail, analyze situations and can solve problems. These interpersonal skills in combination with HVAC skills can really help them succeed in the industry. Some misconceptions about female HVAC technicians could be impeding their progress.
Here are five common misconceptions about women in HVAC:
Women don’t excel in math, chemistry and physics – all of which are needed, to some extent, in HVAC. It’s true that women are late bloomers when it comes to math and science abilities. On average, girls are four years behind boys in math and geometry skills, but language and fine motor skills develop six years earlier in girls than boys. Men do have bigger brains – 6.5 times the gray matter – but that doesn’t make them smarter. Women have 9.5 times the white matter, which means the two hemispheres of the brain are better connected than those of men. What that means is that women’s brains work faster than men’s!
The work may be too much for a woman to do alone. When a woman is trained with heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration programs, she is as prepared to do the work as a man. Pat Popa, owner and operator of Popa Heating & Cooling in Highland, IN, thinks staying abreast of industry changes keeps her and her staff prepared. They take advantage of all the training that is available as a way to boost efficiency. As a result, the company is going strong after 50 years in business.
Women are not strong enough to handle heavy equipment. If an HVAC technician needs to carry or manage heavy equipment, he or she will get help. “I have another woman on my staff,” Popa says, “and if the equipment is heavy, the men give her tips for better ways to do it.”
HVAC is not a job for women. Sandra Garza, the sole female in HVAC graduating class in 1996 and owner of SG Heating & Cooling Services in Oak Lawn, IL, says, “I’ve had other
Women of HVAC promotes the concerns of women working in this male-dominated field and provides resources, connections and educational options to those who are considering an HVAC career. For more information about opportunities available to women in this in-demand field – one that is growing at a rapid rate – or to find schools that offer heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration programs, contact Women of HVAC.