On March 8, International Women's Day was celebrated, a date that brings the slogan of access to work and rights under conditions of equality. However, the correspondence of certain tasks with gender is still assumed, so in many industries women still have to earn their space by heart.
by ACR Latin America
The Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2021, published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), indicated that the unemployment rate among women went from 9.3% in 2019 to 11.9% in 2020, with an increase of 2.6%, while men experienced an increase of 2.5% for the same period. Although they are similar figures, women are still 4 percentage points above, which translates into a higher overall rate of both formal and informal unemployment.
However, UN Women, in its publication Progress in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals gender panorama 2021, clarifies that the pandemic reinforced gender inequalities in the household and in the labor market. In that sense, he points out that "the number of employed women decreased by 54 million, while 45 million left the labor force completely", being more marked job losses compared to men during the same time. Additionally, it mentions that existing gender gaps in research "may partly reflect the lower presence of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, where only slightly more than a third of graduates are women."
According to ECLAC, although female labor participation in the Latin American region had grown steadily until 2019, it was significantly lower than that of men and there were still notable differences in terms of the quality of their labor insertion, since they presented higher levels of unemployment and informality, lower wages for exercising the same tasks and scarce access to hierarchical positions. From the data presented, it can be concluded that, although there were advances that allowed women to perform in diverse roles, the pandemic contributed to a slowdown and reversal of this change.
That is why in ACR Latin America we wanted to exalt the role of women in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry, a workspace and technological development that has had a more masculine tradition, but where many women have put their labor and academic contribution in favor of air conditioning and human comfort solutions.
Gina Larrea, Residential Area Manager - Mitsubishi Electric
For Gina to enter the HVAC industry it was difficult, because when she started, in 2008, she did not have knowledge about air conditioning, but she emphasizes that she was lucky to have colleagues who had a lot of knowledge, who took the time to help her. He says that to date he has had many people around, men and women willing to share their experiences and that was what made the difference, and made him stay in an industry that at first he assumed as something temporary. This job change modified his way of seeing life and ensures that he does not regret it, rather, he likes it very much, so much so that he went from marketing to sales, to face new challenges.
"To my initial ignorance I must add that it was a world of men where, especially the contractors, they did not want to hear my words because I was a woman. This has changed, I see and it motivates me that there is currently much more place for us, more opportunities. I love to read in any post, on social media or in magazines, about women who have managed to enter high positions. We're not 100% yet, but we're on the right track and improving."
Claudia Sánchez, Executive Director - Acaire
Working in the sector has been very satisfying, as well as a personal and professional challenge for Claudia. She highlights that in her company the human quality, as well as the support of her work team and managers, has driven achievements in the midst of the pandemic. Likewise, he indicated that the most significant challenge, and at the same time rewarding, has been to integrate the diverse visions of the industry, to achieve results that benefit them as a sector and contribute to their country. As the most pleasing achievement in the HVAC industry, she points to creating jobs and making a difference in people's lives.
"Gender equity in our industry is a pending task that fortunately has more and more followers. My company, Acaire, has been working for years to close the gaps that exist in this matter so relevant to society. In addition, we are pleased to have many women as protagonists of our business history."
Julia Rodríguez, Director of Consultative Sales - Daikin
This engineer says that she was fortunate, because of her family upbringing with male siblings and the academic influence of her mother, a chemical engineer with a taste for teaching, to never have discomfort in working with men. In college she was the only woman of her generation, so she took it as a very natural thing to interact with the masculine. Julia states that, if perhaps she had a challenge in her working life compared to working with men, it was because of her own paradigms and fears, perhaps influenced by the stereotypes of society. It rescues as a great achievement to be able to help develop the potential of the people he has been in charge of; a work that, for 6 years, has served for its employees to scale in the same company and, in some cases, has projected them to develop in other companies in the environment.
"I've been in the middle for about 16 years and I can say that this has not been an industry that is characterized by having many women, when I started 99% of the people with whom I had contact were men. I must emphasize that, in addition to the issue of gender, we have some difficulties that come from a 'generational mix', where in baby boomers and Generation X there are fewer women, but in Millennials and Generation Z there are more. Hence, previous generations are not used to working with women in this type of sector. So, although our participation is still a minority, because we do not exceed even 10%, it has grown over the years and more with the generational change. So, what we need is to increase participation in middle and high positions."
Mayra Magdalena Lira, owner Clinest Soluciones Limpias SA de CV
This businesswoman studied architecture, however, in the middle of her career, due to a request from her father and to help with the family business, she took some courses as an air conditioning calculator. Although at the time he graduated he leaned towards the construction sector, he returned to his family's business after a few years to accompany the manufacturing plant and manage alternative products. From this experience he rescues that he has never stopped learning, because as a manufacturer he must know and control the entire supply chain, be attentive to innovations and changes in equipment, as well as the regulations that govern the products and, subsequently, ensure that he meets the requirements of the distributor and achieve the satisfaction of the end user. Mayra says that she has strived to improve the conditions of all the employees of her company, she explains with pleasure that they are certified as an evaluation center, so now she can help that, in the north of Mexico, the technicians have a card and a clear validation of their competences, with which they can be more recognized and better paid. Regarding being a woman working in the HVAC industry, she states that:
"Labor difficulties exist in this industry for men and women alike, we have adapted and approached their language. Now, there are greater challenges if we want to be contractors or distributors, much more to be technical. However, the new generations are pushing hard so that the biases that existed, or are, at the level of gender, are diluted. The advantage is that today we find new paths and options that several years ago there were none."
Claudia Crispin, Chief Operating Officer -Teksol
For Claudia it has been an incredible experience to work in an industry that, in her words, has been growing and developing strongly. For her, seeing how the Latin American market demands and demands greater professionalism and commitment in its processes is very comforting, and more so because she affirms that she is contributing to that growth with a lot of criteria and responsibility. She argues that one of the daily challenges of this guild is that it grows rapidly and demands to stay ahead of the curve. Moreover, he adds that it is an industry mostly of men, where the percentage of women involved is not yet high, much less in executive positions.
"I can proudly say that women currently play a very important role in the various companies and guilds. Every day we face great demands and professional challenges, added to the demands of home and family, we are "multitasking". No doubt in the professional field there will always be challenges for us, but we no longer see this as difficulties, we receive it as opportunities that we are willing to take."
Onyxs Strober, VRF Sales Channel Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean - Carrier
In 2003 she began her work in the HVAC industry as a technician coordinator, Onyxs highlights that, for them it was a shock to receive instructions from a boss and that on several occasions she thought that this was not her thing, because her authority was questioned for being a woman or the clients confused her kindness with coquettishness, so I had to raise distance and seriousness. But she took this situation as a personal challenge, an attitude that led her to climb professionally with measurable achievements and safe steps. As a curious fact, he says that due to the neutrality of his name in the emails he was confused many times with a man, and when he clarified that he was a woman the answers were usually full of surprise. This manager describes herself as in love with what she does and assures that reaching her current position is one of her greatest achievements, because she never imagined leading a department with international reach, where she could gain the trust of so many people.
"It's still a challenge to be a woman in two ways. The first, for demanding respect in the labor area; I am confident that we can do an excellent job and demonstrate our capabilities. The second is to gain recognition and space to devote to our family responsibilities, such as childcare, which is not to the detriment of dedication to work, acting professionally or reaching goals. Although it depends a lot on the markets and where you are located, which one you find more or less resistance to be able to occupy important positions within the industry, fortunately in Latin America we have learned and it is increasingly clear that we can occupy important positions, regardless of our gender."