The amount of women in the HVAC workforce is increasing more and more each year. But to celebrate Women’s History Month, we want to delve into the past of women in HVAC instead.
Who are these great women who paved the way for more women in industries like HVAC and construction?
The first was African-American inventor Alice Parker. If you haven’t heard of her, you should have! She’s the inventor of the natural gas furnace that most of us use in our homes today. Homes used to be heated using a furnace that burned wood or coal. Heat coming from the unit spread to the rest of the house. As you can imagine, the efficiency is very limited compared to what we have today!
And sure, for people back in the day, inefficient heating didn’t mean “higher heat bills.” But it did mean using more firewood or coal, or freeze…when maybe they barely had two pennies to rub together!
So Alice’s solution was to invent central heating!
Natural gas was something that existed at the time, but it was being used for machines, not to heat homes. She not only patented the natural gas furnace, but also came up with a duct system to evenly heat homes.
Even more amazingly, she did this back in 1919, just after World War I, when discrimination against women and African-American people was rampant.
So let’s step forward a bit in time…
To our other prolific female inventor in the HVAC industry, Margaret Ingles. She’s considered one of the first ever female engineers, and was the first ever female student at the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, in the 1920s. She learned how to measure dust and particles in the air, and also the amount of moisture in the air.
That means, Ingles was the one who invented the ability to use measurements like relative humidity and wind speed, to come up with what we call today the “feels like” temperature. You know how they say, It’s 30 degrees outside, but it “feels like” 10 degrees?
You may not “feel like” thanking Margaret Ingles for that one…but you should definitely at least thank her for the progress she made in the indoor air quality industry!
So as you can see, when it comes to very important HVAC necessities we rely on today – whether that’s home heating, or effective temperature and air quality – there are two very special female inventors who should be recognized for making it possible!
Here at Air Specialist, we appreciate how the percentage of women in HVAC is steadily climbing. Today, women are changing the HVAC space, and we’re honored to celebrate that.