Newsletter 10/2018, Iss. 03

The Green Cooling Initiative - promoting green cooling worldwide!

Welcome to the third Green Cooling Initiative Newsletter 2018!



Women in the RAC sector - three stories

Ghana: "Encouraging women in the RAC sector is an essential task of our time."

Brazil: Jossineide on the challenge on being a female refrigeration technician in the Amazon - Brazil's heart

Indonesia: An impressive career against all odds

"Let us empower the ladies!" - Interview with Grant Laidlaw, director of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy, South Africa

#WatchMeWork: Recognizing women in the Grenadian RAC sector as part of World Ozone Day activities

Upcoming Events


Dear Readers,

A warm welcome to our 3rd Green Cooling Initiative (GCI) Newsletter in 2018, this time with a special issue on a topic that is particularly important to the GCI and Proklima team - the recognition and empowerment of women in the refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) sector.

Gender inequality is the most sever and widespread form of discrimination in the world. While this affects all, women and girls suffer the greatest from inequality of opportunity and gender pay gaps. For this reason, we would like to introduce three strong female colleagues from the RAC sector in Ghana, Brazil and Indonesia and highlight the valuable work on the empowerment of women. The GCI newsletter team also talked to the director of a South African refrigeration school on measures how to expand the promotion of women. Finally, the World Ozone Day campaign from Grenada is an exemplary action to highlight and honor the work of women in the RAC sector.

We would like thank our three colleagues for their stories and our interviewee for his efforts - this GCI newsletter edition is theirs! Please note that we slightly edited and shortened their stories and interview in order to fit the format.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter and are happy to reply to any comments or queries.

Kind regards, Nika Greger, GCI Project Manager

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If you missed one of the previous newsletters you can download it from our archive.

Women in the RAC sector

Ghana: “Encouraging women in the RAC sector is an essential task of our time”

“As the world transitions to an increasingly technological economy, many low- and middle-income countries are lacking qualified people to fill critical positions in technological fields. This “shortage” is exacerbated by the low representation of women in these industries - the RAC sector is no exception.

Let’s be honest, most young ladies don’t typically say, “When I grow up, I want to fix fridges and air conditioners”. So, where do we find these women and how do we get them interested in the RAC sector? Believe me, they are out there working in other professions. You just will never know when you will run into a woman who has the requisite skills, drive, desire or ability to become your RAC technician. Strengthening women’s participation in the RAC sector is important for three reasons.

  • Increasing employment opportunities for women enhances gender equality, which is fundamental to human rights and dignity;
  • Empowering women leads to benefits for their children and communities;
  • Bridging the gender gap in RAC jobs can help address the mismatch between the supply and demand for jobs in emerging countries.

We still have to deal with many challenges to integrate women equally into the RAC sector. In many countries, girls face cultural pressures and stereotypes that discourage them from developing the skills needed to join the technology field. Hierarchies and traditional patterns are further barriers.

International institutions, governments, and NGOs, as well as companies and foundations, should work together to address the multiple barriers women and girls face, particularly in low- and middle-income countries whose economies can benefit the most from greater inclusion of women in the technological labor force.

This requires a shift in policy, priorities and existing funding to ensure that economic development and education investments in the technical, vocational, education and training sector can better integrate women and girls in tech fields such as the RAC sector labor force. The creation of an inviting culture for girls and women in the RAC sector is essential.

Government and development partners should integrate mentoring and support networks for girls and women into education and employment programs. Mentoring and peer networks can provide support and combat isolation. The integration of RAC into the curricula of vocational and technical schools also helps to inspire women to engage in these professions. Finally, partnerships with local schools could be established and teachers should promote this career opportunity.

These are only a few examples of how empowerment of women can work in the RAC sector. The most important thing is the will to start. There are many girls and women out there who would like to work in a technical job - you just have to encourage them!”

By Abena Amponsaa Baafi, former GIZ Proklima, Ghana

Abena Baafi on a visit at a logistics refrigeration company in Germany 2017 © GIZ Proklima

Brazil: Jossineide on the challenge of being a female refrigeration technician in the Amazon - Brazil’s heart

Jossineide Oliveira and Silva - educator, consultant and entrepreneur - is one of the pioneer woman in the refrigeration field in Brazil. She is also the first female instructor in Porto Velho to teach the course “Good Practices Training on Air Conditioning Systems”, which is coordinated by the Brazilian Environmental Ministry and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). This is her story:

“When we are facing a challenge, we have two alternatives: stop, and spend our whole live at the same way, or overcome and move on, and maybe be an inspiration for others. This is what happened when I was 14 years old, and it was time to do my enrollment for a technician course, as my parents had recommended. When I arrived at school, I was informed that there weren’t any more vacancies at the traditional sewing course, naturally appropriate for women. At that moment the challenge begun. I had to decide between go back home or choose the other course that had vacancies, which was the technical course for RAC mechanics at SENAI (Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial) Porto Velho, in Amazon. I decided to go ahead with the technician course.

Everything at this course was new for me. The classroom was full, and I was the only woman. The sexist jokes with everybody laughing without realizing my presence. The lack of trust by the teachers and the colleagues. I had to work very hard to accomplish this course. And I studied harder, in and out the classroom. I kept thinking: “I need to know how to work more and better than the other technicians (men), because I always will be the most challenged.”

And my efforts were crowned with success: my teacher from that time choose me to participate at the Professional Training Tournament in 1996, in Brasília. The tournament was a national competition with a high technical and emotional level between refrigeration and climatization technicians of all technical schools in the country. I conquered the third place at the podium, ahead of Sao Paulo schools, the most developed state in Brazil! This achievement opened doors for me; I wasn’t just a woman in the refrigeration field anymore. I had proven that I had the knowledge!

At this time, an opportunity to work as an instructor at the RAC mechanic course, at SENAI-Porto Velho, came up. I was hired as an assistant, a position below the instructors, and even when replacing them, I was payed less. A fate, I share with a lot of women in other professions in Brazil and in the rest of the world. I continued studying for another three years and was finally recognized and registered by the Engineering Council to act in this field of RAC. At that time, I got married and gave birth to my three children. They have been by my side ever since.

I came back to teach at SENAI as an “instructor”, but earning about 1/3 less than my male colleagues. I took the job wondering whether I could change that situation, but I didn´t manage to. Seeing and living many injustices, I decided to study Social Assistance, to learn more on how to apply policies for those who have physical limitations at the workplace.

In parallel, I was invited to work at the technical assistance area of a RAC renowned company in my city, the Polo Frio Comercio e Serviço. After an initial phase of hesitation, the company owner recognized my skills and gave me a promotion and I started to have the responsibility of standardize and manage all the services that the company was providing.

After that, I became partner in a company with a professional colleague and in this company, we combined a few dreams and projects to work with Variable Refrigerant Gas Flow (VRF) and Chiller Industrial Climatization Systems. That is how I became an entrepreneur, partner of Vento Sul Soluções Térmicas Ltda. I also went back to work at SENAI and articulated SENAI’s participation on the GIZ call, so the school could minister the Good Practices Training on Air Conditioning Systems course.

With my story, I hope to encourage any person who has interest in this profession to overcome limitation. Many times, I wanted to quit and only take care of my family. When I look back, I see how important insisting and not giving up is! How good it was to be dedicated and to pass through the obstacles of my professional life, even moral and sexual harassment.

Today, when I come into a classroom to minister RAC Systems Courses, I don’t see just people, men and women, wanting to learn, I see professionals capable of changing the world, adding in their lives values like: overcoming, determination and social and environmental awareness. This is my legacy. This is my work.”

By Jossineide Oliveira and Silva

Jossineide participating on “Training of Trainers” for multiplication of the Good Practices Training on Air Conditioning Systems, in Manaus © GIZ Proklima

Indonesia: An impressive career against all odds

Herlin Herlianika - a professional in the RAC sector - works as a technical expert at the successful Green Chillers NAMA project in Indonesia, a project funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and implemented by GIZ Proklima in cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. With the GCI newsletter team, she looked back at her impressive career and shared some thoughts about women in the RAC sector.

Here are some of her most important career steps:

  • Graduate of ITB Polytechnic, major in RAC Engineering.
  • Bachelor´s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Bandung Institute of Technology. From 1993 to 2007 lecturer at the Polytechnic for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.
  • Since 2007 RAC contractor focusing in industrial process and clean rooms technology.
  • Active work in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Indonesia Chapter, first female president 2016-2017, still at Chapter Board of Governors.
  • Member of the TEAP's Refrigeration Technical Options Committee (RTOC), which develops a report evaluation for the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
  • Participation at the Technical Committees for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning of the National Standards Agency.
  • Master trainer at the national professional assessment committee for the safe and environmentally friendly handling of flammable refrigerants.

And this is what she says:

"In the course of my career, I have met very few female colleagues. Usually, I met women in this sector who are employed in sales. Even though there are so many female graduated from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Department of Polytechnics in Indonesia, they choose to be a sales or desk technical support not many choosing on site activities. That is unfortunately the reality and a big problem.

On my own career path, I have also often experienced that others did not believe in my abilities. I think this is the major challenge as a woman in this sector, that people doesn't trust about my best competencies until they saw by themselves that I can prove it with all my engineering knowledge, the ability to do the installation and good practices for the technicians work like welding, brazing, troubleshooting and repairing.

My exchange with other female engineers in this sector was very rare and meantime I am the most senior one. So I usually share my experiences and encourage them to continue the career in this sector because there are a lot of better opportunities for female in this sector, especially in my country.

It is essential to give women more incentives for their careers, such as interesting advertisements about employment opportunities with explicit promotion of women. There should also be more publications on the active role of women in this sector and a worldwide joint women's work with intensive promotion and information campaigns.

It is actually always good to be a woman in a so-called "male job", once they know our competencies and see that they are the same as those of men, they will appreciate it a lot."

By Herlin Herlianika

Our colleague Herlin Herlianika works in Indonesia in the RAC sector © GIZ Proklima

“Let us empower the ladies!” - Interview with director of the RAC Academy in South Africa

The GCI newsletter team reached out to interview Grant Laidlaw. He is the director of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy (ACRA) and in charge of all business activities, training, assessment, qualification and career development, liaison with industry and government at the training academy. He says about his work: "I love what I do!" We wanted to know a little bit more!

Mr. Grant, could you give us a brief insight into your work and your own path in the RAC sector?

The responsibility of transferring skills to young people enabling them to become productive members of society lies with myself and all training providers. In this way, we can improve the standard of living for our people and increase the quality of services offered by our industry.

My path into industry was initially spurred on by opportunity, which I recognised and acted upon. Our diverse industry and its interesting people became a passion from which I grew the training academy. Needless to say: I love what I do.

You are very committed to the empowerment of women in the RAC sector. It is no secret that especially the cooling sector is a male-dominated profession. How would you describe the current situation and possible changes in recent years?

Yes, this is a male dominated industry. Ten years ago, there were no or very few female refrigeration engineers and technicians. In South Africa there has been some change in this regard. In our profession, we have seen some movement as woman have joined their male counterparts. At technician level, we see a more significant shift.

We currently have 32 woman on an apprenticeship project. This is a wonderful initiative and is funded by the Health and Welfare SETA (Sector Education Training Authority). The project was initiated and is managed by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy in South Africa. 2018 has seen a total of 58 woman undergoing training at the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy.

What is your concrete commitment to the empowerment of women?

In setting up projects of this nature, we typically allocate fifty percent of the positions available to woman. We arrange worksites for the women to gain the necessary workplace experience and ultimately write the qualifying trade test. We monitor their progress on a monthly basis whilst at workplaces and assist where necessary.

What are the main challenges you face concerning women in the RAC sector?

The major challenge is perception. Second to perception will be resistance to change. The perception is that this is a man's world. This in turn results in a reluctance to take on woman apprentices. How will the ladies perform? Should we take a chance and take on a woman apprentice?

Having trained many woman to final trade test I can say to industry: The ladies perform very well, both at the training center and at the workplace, in some cases better than the men. You are not taking a chance when taking on a woman as an apprentice.

What measures do you think could help to get women interested in the RAC sector and electro-technical professions?

Make it attractive, promote the RAC sector and electro-technical professions to the schools, showcase the woman who succeed, show the industry that the ladies are up to the task. Show the woman themselves that they can succeed and make a career in the RAC sector and electro-technical professions.

Thank you very much for your commitment - Any final words?

Let us empower the ladies!

Grant (2nd from left) with a group of apprentices currently undergoing training at the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy © GIZ Proklima

#WatchMeWork: Recognizing women in the Grenadian RAC sector as part of World Ozone Day activities

The National Ozone Unit (NOU) of Grenada with the support of the Cool Contributions fighting Climate Change (C4) project celebrated World Ozone Day on the 17th September, 2018 under the topic "Watch Me Work: Recognizing Women in the RAC Sector".

The Grenadian RAC sector is dominated mostly by male technicians. Estimates indicate one female to approximately 30 male technicians, representing approximately 3% of the sector. In order to highlight the contributions of females in the industry, the world ozone day's activities were centered around three main sessions to encourage and showcase their valuable contributions.

The first session was a seminar for female RAC technicians. This session featured females from institutions around Grenada sharing their experiences as women working in male dominated technical fields. The second session was a practical session, entitled "Watch Me Work", where the female technicians completed technical tasks using new and conventional methods, keeping in line with best practice and safety procedures. The final event of the day was a recognition and award ceremony.

The C4 project is implemented by the National Ozone Unit (NOU) in the Energy Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Public Utilities, Energy, Transport & Implementation of Grenada in cooperation with GIZ. It is funded by the BMU as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Female technician installs environment-friendly air conditioning system with natural refrigerant R290

Upcoming Events

  • Chillventa, Nuremberg, Germany 16 - 18 October 2018
  • ISWA World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 22 - 24 October 2018
  • Cool Training, Maintal, Germany, 15 - 26 October 2018
  • 30th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP30), Quito, Ecuador, 5 - 9 November 2018
  • ATMOsphere Europe, Lago di Garda, Italy, 19 - 21 November 2018

GCI Newsletter Team

Nicole Mueller (chief editor); Lena Bareiß (editor), Niclas Rieger (editor), Curllan Bhola (editor), Susana Feraz (editor), Ana Bárbara Zanella (Portuguese translation)