The tides are changing in the modern workforce, and these shifting trends are responsible for an increase in gender diversity in HVAC-R. In 2017, women made up 47 percent of the workforce, yet only 2 percent of them were employed in the HVAC industry. That’s still a boost because eight years ago, only 0.6 percent of the HVAC workforce was female. According to Forbes magazine, the diversity is good for company profits.
That’s a win-win for women who are looking for solid career opportunities and companies who have jobs to fill. Women in the male-dominated field of HVAC are challenging the stereotype, proving their value and helping fill a labor gap created by our aging population. Many baby boomers have reached the ends of their careers, and many more will retire within the next 10 years. That is leading to a severe shortage of skilled trades workers, making it necessary to look outside of the usual job pool to fill empty positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC employment is expected to increase 15 percent through 2026. The growth rate, coupled with the current shortage, means women technicians are needed to fill the estimated 115,000 new positions the industry expects to be available by 2022.
Why women in HVAC trades excel
Female technicians are leading the charge because, quite frankly, they’re suited for HVAC-R careers. The typical HVAC customer is a woman who is often home during the day to wait for a service person. A female HVAC technician may put female customers more at ease. That may result in more referral business for the technician’s company.
Additionally, women in HVAC may actually have some advantages over men because of their interpersonal skills:
- They are often better communicators.
- They pay attention to detail.
- They are analytical.
- They’re good listeners.
- They may have better customer service skills.
- They are often good at solving problems.
- They can multitask.
Why HVAC industry leaders value female colleagues
Bill Sharpless, an HVAC instructor at Florida Academy, thinks more women should enter the industry and always tries to recruit them for his school’s HVAC-R trade program. “They have better education, attention to detail and customer service skills,” he says. “One thing we try to push here [at Florida Academy] is customer service skills because you can be a really good technician, but if you can’t talk to a customer, you’re not going to be doing anything.”
How networking and mentorship help women in the HVAC-R industry
There is so much demand for technicians to install, repair and maintain HVAC systems but not enough qualified people to do the job. Women are the largest underutilized resource and can fill those labor shortages. WomenofHVAC.Org is tasked with bringing awareness, showcasing women in the field, and giving them the necessary tools to begin a successful career in the trades through networking opportunities and mentorship.
The benefits of studying in an HVAC refrigeration program and learning HVAC skills for women truly pay off. An HVAC career brings steady work, a great job outlook, excellent wages and the opportunity to work in a variety of places, from medical facilities and research labs to offices and homes.
Women of HVAC can help women find schools that will train them for this lucrative, in-demand field and provide resources, opportunities and support for those already in the field.