Last month, I ran out of space before I could mention one thing that jumped out at me right away about our BAS conference in San Diego: at least eight women were in attendance. If it sounds weird for me to notice and be able to give a specific number, that just tells you how sad the gender "balance" generally is at these get-togethers, as anyone who's gone to many of them can attest.
In my moderate experience, if you see eight women in one HVAC-related room, it means one of two things:
- You're at the AHR Expo, where dozens of women do marketing for various companies, and a few other women sometimes work as temporary help, more responsible for (ahem) directing your attention toward a given booth than discussing the products at it.
- Or you're at a spouse's breakfast.
Neither of these contingents involves much of the facilities or design engineering side of things, so I decided to look around for a little more information. The National Academy of Engineering says that only 20% of engineering degrees are earned by women, and worse, only 9% of American engineers are women. The NAE has an EngineerGirl website (www.engineergirl.org) that touts all sorts of engineering careers, but I didn't see a single HVAC mention. The "mechanical engineer" entry describes work on submarines, nanobots, and manufacturing facilities.
On the good side, the IEEE notes that its Women in Engineering Group experienced record growth this year, with membership rising to about 12,000. On the other side, in an interesting article titled, "Why Won't Jane Go To Engineering School," IEEE notes that "10 new dissertations are devoted to this subject every year," yet the stats regarding jobs and degrees stay stagnant or slip.
I mentioned this topic in one of my very first notes, and since then, a Women In HVACR group (www.womeninhvacr.org) has sprung up, which is good to see. I'm not on some mission to see an even split between the sexes in this field. I just don't believe the industry will flourish faster or better by saying, "First, let's lose almost half of our pool of intellectual power," and that's what the numbers suggest the bottom-line reality continues to be.
Of course, the meeting room in San Diego unscientifically suggests some kind of upswing, but then again, maybe most of them were owners or their representatives. And Realcomm's Jim Young used his enlightening keynote there to cite America's declining share of engineers vs. global competition. What can we do to attract the best and brightest, regardless of gender?
COMMENTS FROM COMMISSIONING
Several dozen engineers joined us in New England last month for our Commissioning & TAB Seminar in Sturbridge, MA. Howard McKew, Deborah DeMaso, David H. Mahoney, and Amanda Parolise from RDK Engineering put together a solid, efficient day of information. A quick sample of the attendee surveys read ... "really liked the use of actual test reports/schedules." Another liked "how you bring all trades to be on the same team," while another took away "great ‘lessons learned' and tips - stressing what to include in specs and buy up front, [and to] get involved early." Others commented, "Excellent seminar - well worth the time and money," and mentioned the "relaxed atmosphere and easily understood all levels of knowledge."
It was a good day. Look for us to combine this feedback with some ideas for improvement to present another session at least as useful next year, perhaps a little further down the Eastern seaboard. Thanks to everyone who came out to join us.
LIESCHEIDT IN DALLAS
Finally, if you've enjoyed our long-running series of "HVAC Challenge" crossword puzzles, then let me clue you into a two-hour seminar by their creator, coming to Dallas on January 29, at 7:45 a.m. at the Quality Inn Dallas Market Center (I'm told full breakfast is served starting a half-hour prior). Steve Liescheidt's goal with this training seminar is to make the solution for success less puzzling for those in the HVAC marketing/sales/service arenas.
So if you'll be in Dallas anyway for the AHR/ASHRAE festivities and you're on that side of the industry, consider picking up some tips from Steve on getting "down" to business and getting your message "across" effectively. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Or e-mail me at email@example.com with any crossword terms I didn't squeeze into this text.