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April 1, 2015
By Renee Tomlinson

As an instructor or trainer, you treat all of your students equally in the classroom, right?

If you answered “Yes” to this question, then you should have attended the thought image of x doesn't equal yprovoking session, “X Does Not Equal Y: Teaching to a Mixed Demograpic,” at the HVAC Excellence Conference led by Renee Cardarelle of Explore the Trades, Patti Ellingson of Women in HVAC, Thomasena Philen of Daikin and Renee Tomlinson of ESCO Group.

As instructors/trainers in a male dominated industry, you operate largely in a male-oriented atmosphere and classroom. When a woman enters your program, the dynamics of your classroom are most likely going to change.

This session looked at why it is increasingly important to recruit women into HVACR programs, how the classroom dynamics may change, common misconceptions or assumptions made by both students and instructors, resources for supporting women in the trades as well as resources and tips for recruiting students into your HVACR program.

Cardarelle, Ellingson, Philen and Tomlinson discussed why they came together to offer this session and why they were passionate about the subject, “We have read so many articles just over the last few months about women leaving STEM or engineering programs and jobs because of the ‘culture’ of the industries. As women, this is frustrating to hear about, but at the same time, each of us has a story to tell of why we chose to pursue careers in the industry and what we can do differently to get this to change.”

“We knew that we could not provide a session that would change a culture overnight or leave people with the full array of tools and resources needed for recruitment and retention, so our goal was awareness and to get instructors thinking about things they could do differently to ‘neutralize’ their classrooms to make their environments conducive to learning, not only for women, but for all,” said Philen.

The group plans to continue to refine this workshop and offer it again in the future.

Photos from the conference and other conference news including downloadable PowerPoints are available at

To find out more about recruitment resources and scholarships visit:

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