The World Refrigeration Day (WRD) Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) OzonAction, in cooperation with 11 global and regional trade groups, launched the International Network for Women in Cooling (INWIC) on April 12. This global initiative seeks to provide more opportunities for women in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) sector and to inspire girls to enter these fields.
The trade groups include AIRAH (Australia), AREA (Europe), ASHRAE (global), CAR (China), FAIAR (Latin America), IIR (global), IOR (U.K.), ISHRAE (India), JSRAE (Japan), U-3ARC (Africa), and Women in HVAC&R (North America).
Despite making up half the world’s population and almost 40% of the global work force, women are “significantly and visibly under-represented in the RACHP sector in all roles,” according to a statement from the WRD Secretariat announcing the launch of INWIC. WRD is an annual event being held on June 26 to celebrate the RACHP sector’s contributions to society.
The WRD Secretariat acknowledged that there are already “many excellent initiatives and structures” promoting women’s engagement in the RACHP field. However, INWIC was formed because “more cooperation and information exchange at the global level is needed to link these individual efforts and make them even more meaningful and impactful, especially in developing countries,” the WRD Secretariat said.
“Women represent a tremendous, largely untapped source of innovation and skills for [the cooling] sector, and they need to be actively engaged if we are to solve the great environmental challenges of our time,” said James Curlin, Head of UNEP OzonAction. “INWIC seeks to do just that.”
Through INWIC, organizers hope to advance the engagement of women, promote career opportunities for girls and young women and increase their overall participation in the sector, which is largely male-dominated.
“Women represent a tremendous, largely untapped source of innovation and skills for this sector, and they need to be actively engaged if we are to solve the great environmental challenges of our time,”James Curlin, UNEP OzonAction.
“‘You can’t be what you can’t see!’ There are not enough visible ‘women in cooling’ role models,” said Stephen Gill, Head of WRD Secretariat. “We want to change that.”
“We will create a resource for girls and young women to see bite-size videos and read real-life stories from a diverse range of women in different roles within the cooling sector,” Gill continued. “This will also serve to connect and inspire women currently working in the cooling sector.”
INWIC also seeks to connect women from across the sector, providing networking, mentoring and educational opportunities. The initiative aims to “change outdated perceptions [and] leave a lasting legacy to inspire the next generation of women innovators and problem-solvers.”
In addition to engaging women from around the world, INWIC has highlighted the importance of providing additional support in developing countries, where RACHP experiences and career development opportunities tend to be less accessible to women.
Over the coming months, INWIC will launch several programs designed to support women in the advancement of their RACHP careers and to attract girls to cooling-related education disciplines.
Ahead of the launch of the INWIC initiative, Stephen Gill created a LinkedIn group for women in cooling and their allies. Those interested are welcomed to join the group, which currently has over 1,000 members.
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