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‘Significant work’ required on diversity in cooling – INWIC president

June 26, 2023

Industry podcast hears that women make up around a fifth of the global cooling sector workforce, with the figure being much lower in technical fields.

Significant work is needed to expand the global role of women in technical cooling roles, the first president of the international Network for Women in Cooling (INWIC) says.

Colleen Keyworth, who assumed the presidency of INWIC late last year, said there was a notable difference in regards to the proportion of females working in technical roles compared to other parts of the HVACR workforce.

Ms Keyworth was speaking to Lisa-Jayne Cooke for an Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) podcast about the attitudes and acceptance towards women working within the cooling industry.

Ms Cooke is chair of the IOR’s organisation’s Women in RACHP Network and said the organisation saw a similar challenge in its own workforce about the proportion of women working in the sector.

Ms Keyworth told the podcast that the issue and need for a more diverse RACHP sector was a global issue complicated by further regional and local challenges.

She said: “Overall, I think we have an object problem when it comes to women in the trades. But when you take culture into effect in some of the other countries it’s a whole different obstacle.”

Speaking about cultural differences across different countries, Ms Keyworth said: “You have to throw in things like culture and just the idea of women filling these roles whether its engineering or field technician or even if it’s just being involved as women in the trades.”

She expressed frustration with the proportion of women in cooling at present in the United States, but added that it was “nothing compared to other countries.”

Ms Keyworth said: “For us professionally, women make up 20 per cent of the HVRAC industry. In the technician and engineering field, it’s somewhere around 3 per cent, though there is still a big disparity there. So comparing that to other countries it is even less than those numbers.”

Building up INWIC

Formed earlier this year, INWIC was the idea of World Refrigeration Day founder Steve Gill. It aims to advance the engagement of women, promote career opportunities, and increase their overall participation in the refrigeration, air-conditioning, and heat pumps (RACHP) sector.

Colleen Keyworth is the 2022 president of US group, Women in HVACR, and has served on the organisation’s Board for the last nine years. During her tenure, the organisation has grown from 100 to over 900 members.

She said: “This is completely uncharted territory, but I look forward to the challenge. It will be important to break down the barriers and learn how to work together, not just in our own silos and districts.”

“INWIC is such an important organisation because for the first time ever we are being intentional about uniting women’s industry groups from all over the world. By doing so, we are able to gather resources and share proven strategies and programmes in order to skip the learning curve for groups that are just getting started.”

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