When I finally landed a job in HVAC I went through a barrage of emotions similar to temporary insanity. After the excitement wore off a familiar sting hit my mind. The same question I'd asked myself before every major life event, one that no man would ever really understand... "WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO WEAR????"
So I started the hunt. First googling "HVAC women".. Anyone who's ever done that knows full well that it provided ZERO help. Surfing through the "interwebs" sea of advertisements representing fake HVAChicks and a billion men in hard hats with their arms wrapped around their wives gave me even less leads as to what a woman in this field should wear.
So I tried "Women in HVAC clothing". To my horror an even greater dead end. Nothing but 50+ clever tee shirt designs reading things like "This lady is already taken by a super hot HVAC tech" and "Proud HVAC Wife" burned at my retinas like welders burn. OUCH. I am an HVAC wife, but I'm also an HVAC tech and have zero appreciation for clothing that makes me appear to belong to someone without even mentioning my own identity, WHO COMES UP WITH THESE THINGS????
My next step was to try on some "boy" clothes. Ugh! Low crotches, buttons and zippers on the wrong side, and tee shirts that hung to my knees.... at size men's small. Needless to say, that wasn't going to work out. Back to the proverbial drawing board!
I surfed and surfed amazon and the rest of the net for mix and match items. I never found a solution to my uniform shirts but I did convince my boss to special order me a few extra smalls. SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF!
Pants were a harder win. Carhart has an extensive, yet slightly hideous women's department so I scooped up a few pairs of their workflex leggings, only to be told that they're "inappropriate around the guys" at work so I opted for looser fitting jeans from my local Walmart.
Boots were next. Brahma, bless their souls, has a woman's steel toe line and I was even able to find my uniform black boots with pink threading!
ONE company. One company thoughtful enough to REALLY include women, in a country where only 8.7 percent of skilled trade workers are women, its understandable, however this is not how we change that! If companies and their marketing teams would open their eyes to the uninviting nature of trades jobs to women, more women would apply! Further more, retail companies for trades could absolutely make women's clothing more appealing and gain many customers! The brilliant CEO of this very school (Ruchir Shah) once said to me "Part of the reason companies are having worker shortages, is that they're leaving out 50 percent of the population" and no words were ever truer! The same goes for trade wear companies! I'm hoping through this blog and through this school where 30 percent of us are women that we can change that dynamic and get some companies to think of women in their designs and not just men. WE NEED SAFE, SNUG FITTING CLOTHING TOO!
My advice to individual women in the heat of this problem? JEANS AND COMPANY TEES WILL WORK. You're not supposed to like them, they will not be 'cute' in any way, but whatever you do, don't fall for Carhart's 'work leggings' scheme. Let my mistake be a lesson that you cannot yet wear whatever you want like men. We're not there yet, but with all of your help in educating those falling behind, maybe, JUST, maybe clothing equality will come.
Be kind HVAChicks- That's What Sets Us Apart<3
HVAChicks for SkillCat