The Changing Face of HVAC-R
Welcoming More Women to the Industry
With the U.S. Department of Labor reporting that HVAC job opportunities are at an all-time high — as well as a steady increase in female interest in technical and engineering fields — it’s no surprise to see more women are seeking careers in refrigeration and HVAC.
At CoolSys, we are proud to have women at the helm in leadership positions as well as throughout all levels of our organization.
“I have always been mechanically inclined. My dad and grandpa were diesel mechanics and I always liked to fix things. In 2008, when the economy took a downturn, I got laid off. I had kids and needed to find something different. There was an HVAC training program in my city, so I took the opportunity,” says Cherise Rader, Orange County Branch Manager for Legacy Air who has worked for the company for two years.
For others, their path into the industry wasn’t as straightforward. “I didn’t pick the field. It picked me,” comments Beth Goldstein, Chief Human Resource Officer for CoolSys. Beth, who started with CoolSys in 2016, was promoted to the c-suite in April 2019. Beth is responsible for the strategic leadership of all aspects of human resources for the company. “I like to build organizations that value people, talent and culture. That’s what attracted me to CoolSys. I had never worked in an industry like this before, but I absolutely love it,” she adds.
With women joining our workforce in higher numbers, we’re growing faster than ever. Plus, the steady employment, competitive wages, benefits and career development opportunities are attracting more women. “There are endless opportunities for women in HVAC. There are management, leadership and operational positions as well as the opportunity to become a highly valued technician,” says Candi Mehlberger, Controller at Certified Refrigeration and Mechanical.
Historically, however, being a woman in the industry hasn’t been easy. Many, like Cherise, faced challenges in the early days of their careers. “It was intimidating trying to get into a predominantly male field,” recalls Cherise. “I had to work twice as hard as a male to get to where I am, but it drove me to succeed and to find ways to differentiate myself,” she adds.
Today, the industry is at a pivotal point. While there’s a growing need for employees in the skilled trades, gender disparity still exists. According to the Department of Labor, women make up nearly 47 percent of the U.S. labor force. However, it’s estimated that females represent only nine percent of HVAC technicians. Women like Cherise want to change that. “We need to change the mindset of what women see themselves doing,” she says. “We need women to know that this is a good-paying job and that you can support a family. That it’s a career that not only gives you self-worth, but there’s room to grow.”
At CoolSys companies, we’re actively recruiting more women into the field. “Any time we have an opportunity to participate in a job fair, a community event or at a trade school, we’re there. It’s another way to bring talented employees to CoolSys,” says Beth.
“The refrigeration and HVAC industry is growing fast. Women entering the space are likely to have all sorts of influence. They have the opportunity to change the face of the industry,” says Beth.
Briana Walsh, who has worked for CoolSys Energy Design for five years and was recently promoted to Vice President, sees it as part of a growing global movement to bridge the gender gap. “It’s an exciting time to be a woman in business,” says Briana. “The world is trying to promote women’s independence. I hope that future generations pursue what they want without gender stereotypes.” For Briana, that starts with leading by example. “The best thing we can do to promote more women in the field is to be an exceptional employer for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles,” she comments.
CoolSys is proud to be an equal opportunity employer creating a culture and work environment that values everyone. “We are learning together and celebrating successes together. Several women hold leadership roles or occupy positions in which they excel. This environment makes it possible,” says Candi.
“My advice to women is the same as for men. Ask questions, deliver what’s expected of you, learn as much as you can, volunteer to get involved, take initiative and the opportunities are boundless,” says Beth. “For anyone interested in a great career opportunity, this is a fantastic place to be,” she adds.
You can help spread the word about all the cool career opportunities for women at CoolSys companies. Visit coolsys.com/careers for more information on job openings. “Put your hard hat on and get ready for a great ride,” laughs Beth.