On the Rise: Women in the HVAC/R Industry

In the HVAC/R industry, men make up the bulk of workforce. In fact, according to the 2015 Bureau of Labor statistics, women represent only 1.7 percent of all people working in the industry. Despite that low number, women who are involved in the industry have noticed an increase in more women becoming HVACR technicians and contractors, and taking on leadership roles with distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers.

Mary Go Gentry, marketing communications manager for YELLOW JACKET, attributes the low number of women to a long-standing stereotype that “the role of a service technician is typically male.”

As an executive board member of the group Women in HVAC (WHVACR), Gentry and other women in HVACR are out to change that long-standing, outdated stereotype.

“Our goal is to bring new women into the trade while supporting those who are already a member,” said Gentry. “We empower women to succeed through networking opportunities, mentoring and education.”

Gentry shared her thoughts about women in the HVACR industry with The BUZZ. Here’s what she has to say:

The BUZZ: What is the current outlook of women in the HVACR industry?
Gentry: There are more women in the industry than ever before. We are seeing a trend in more daughters taking over family-owned HVACR businesses passed down from their fathers.

Additionally, there is a growing rate of professional positions being filled by females. We are seeing women in every position, at every level, from manufacturing to service providers, and from wholesalers to educators. We are also seeing an increase in women in the HVACR programs at technical schools.

What’s the role of Women in HVACR in supporting women in the HVACR industry?
Our goal is to bring new women into the trade while supporting those who are already a member of the trade. WHVACR exists to improve the lives of our members by providing professional avenues to connect with other women growing their careers in the HVACR industry. We empower women to succeed through networking opportunities, mentoring and education.

Are women HVACR technicians earning the same amount as their male counterparts?
Women in union shops make the same base rate as the men. Once a technician obtains the requirements of education, logs the required hours, and gets licensed, all journeyman technicians make the same rate across the board. Plus, they all get a great benefit package.

What are the opportunities for women to become business owners in the HVACR?
Many women have taken over the company business from their fathers and grandfathers. However, several women have built their own businesses from the ground up. Contracting Business magazine recognizes one of these amazing women each year in its September issue.

What do you think men who are working in the HVACR industry could do to welcome more women into the industry?
I would like to see men mentor us as we mentor each other. We don’t demand any special treatment. We just want the same respect that we give.

How does WHVACR help more women get into industry?
In addition to our annual scholarships, we offer networking and mentorship programs, discounted educational opportunities, member-only discussion forums, annual and regional conferences and events, and an opportunity to get involved through our outreach and partnership programs as well as involvement in our many committees.

What tips can you offer women who want to pursue a career within the HVACR industry?
Get involved! We can connect you to a mentor with similar goals who can facilitate your personal and/or business growth. Building relationships with other women in the industry is an ideal way to enter, learn and grow.

How can getting more women in HVAC help the industry?
The demand for technicians is high, and soon there will be a shortage of technicians. The only way to fill this gap will be to bring both male and female employees into the trade. This starts at the high school level, informing students of the opportunities available with a two-year trade degree as opposed to a four-year college degree.

Find out more about Women in HVACR here or on Instagram.