The HVACR industry has gathered in Orlando to take a good look at all the new products manufacturers are introducing for 2016. It’s exciting to have everyone under one roof. The aisles are crowded with manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and engineers. We have folks from the residential and commercial sides of the industry. Ducted and ductless manufacturers are rubbing elbows. We will even have students hanging with us on Wednesday.

There is only one group missing from this HVAC extravaganza. Where are all the ladies? If you are reading this at the AHR Expo, take a moment to scan the room. We had a term for parties like this when I was in college. I will spare you the term, as I am going to keep this article clean, but, suffice, to say it was a party my friends and I did not want to attend.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 1.2 percent of the HVAC workforce was female in 2014. Those kinds of numbers sound like something out of the 1950s rather than the year 2016.

This is not to say there is no interest in bringing women into the HVAC field. There is a group attempting to do just that and it is appropriately named Women in HVACR. The organization’s vision is to provide women multiple avenues to connect and grow in the industry. If you are interested in learning what they are all about, can visit them in booth 3000.

But, what really got this on my radar was the response The NEWS received to editor Nicole Krawcke’s recent story on the impact women are having on the HVAC industry. It highlighted individuals like Heating & Plumbing Engineers Inc. COO Kelly Eusice, Berner Intl. Corp. CEO Georgia Berner, and Semco research and development engineer, Jessie Myers.

It was a great story highlighting the success women can have in the industry. But, more importantly, the response to the story was incredible. The social media department here at BNP Media — our parent company — is always asking us to post content that has a chance of “going viral.” And, while I am not exactly sure what that means in the HVAC industry, this article was very well received. It was shared almost 2,000 times on social media.

That shows me that there is an interest in bringing women into this industry. It also might be a good sign that more women are interested in joining the industry. Thus, it’s now the industry’s job to marry these two groups.

The industry needs to do something. Let’s be honest, white males make up a pretty good chunk of this industry. The problem is white males only make up about 31 percent of the U.S. population. This industry needs to have an outreach beyond these demographics if it hopes to flourish in the future.

It’s up to everyone in the industry to make sure HVAC is diverse. Every woman in the industry I’ve talked with says the same thing: It was overwhelming at first, but this industry is made up of great people who are more than willing to share any knowledge they have with anyone in the field.

It’s a matter of marketing and making sure the next generation of females realize this is a place they can have a great career. So, whether it is the daughter of an HVAC contractor or the female high school student at the school down the road, word needs to get out that the HVAC industry is looking for them.

Publication date: 1/25/2016

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