Go Back

Women Who Made History in the HVAC Industry

Meet the Women Who Helped Create the Modern HVAC Industry

Today’s HVAC world is home to many women. Women are now able to have jobs as HVAC technicians, inventors, and developers. Before the HVAC women of today came the women who paved the way into what was once a male-dominated field. They were the pioneers, the go-getters, and the status-quo challengers. Their contributions changed the HVAC world, not just for women, but for everyone.

Alice H. Parker & the Gas Furnace

Alice Parker grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, at the dawn of the 20th century. Born in 1895, Parker was raised in a drafty home in the early days of furnace heating. Many homes in her hometown still operated on fireplaces, and Parker’s was no exception.

It is said that Parker’s childhood experience of surviving frigid New Jersey winters with an insufficient fireplace warming the home inspired her heating solution that would rock the HVAC world. In 1919, Alice Parker filed a patent for a gas furnace. Patent No. US132590A was the first of its kind, a gas-fueled furnace with individually controlled air ducts that transferred heat to different parts of a building. 

While Parker’s invention was not put in place, the resulting modified versions were. Her model led to the subsequent innovations of the thermostat, zoned heating, and forced air furnaces. Her gas-fueled design paved the way for a more efficient furnace, creating a heating method that did not require constant additions of coal or wood fuel to the furnace.

Parker’s invention deserves accolades not just for the modern system it helped create but also for the milestones it marked in history. Parker’s patent antedates the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Liberation Movement. Alice Parker became the mother of the modern central heating system, with her success recognized by historians and scientists alike. 

Margaret Ingels & the Air Conditioner

margaret ingels

Margaret Ingels grew up in the small town of Paris, Kentucky, at the beginning of the 20th Century. Before making waves in the HVAC world, Ingles achieved two career-starting miles stones in 1916: She was the first woman to graduate with an engineering degree from the University of Kentucky and the second woman to graduate with an engineering degree in the entire United States.

A year after graduation from the University of Kentucky, Ingles began working at the Carrier-Lyle Corporation to study air conditioning. After a time with the company, Ingles returned to university to earn her Mechanical Engineering professional degree, a first for women in United States history. 

Ingles returned to the Carrier-Lyle Corporation after attaining her second degree. She then began to act as a spokesperson and pioneer of residential air conditioning. In her time at Carrier-Lyle, Ingles wrote over 45 research articles on air conditioning, educated thousands of women on how to bring the manufactured weather of AC into their home, and perfected the sling psychrometer, which measures humidity levels in the air.

Margaret Ingles’ contributions to the HVAC field have opened doors for women in a world that was largely a male-dominated career. Her efforts are remembered by the United States and commemorated at the University of Kentucky, which have opened a fellowship fund in her memory and christened a women’s Engineering dorm in her name.

Women & HVAC Today

hvac woman In 2018, women made up only 1.4 percent of the workforce in the HVAC field. But, opportunities are growing. Research has shown that women provide better communication skills and interpersonal connections with customers. 

There’s a shortage of HVAC workers in the United States, which has led to a realization that women are an underutilized population resource for the sector. Women have gained ground in the HVAC sector, with schools such as the Refrigeration School and Dunwoody College of Technology offering scholarships for women attendees. Organizations such as “Women in HVACR” and “Women of HVAC” provide resources and opportunities for women to learn how to become part of the stable job environment of the HVAC world. 

The world has changed since 1919 when Alice Parker submitted her patent. Women are a growing presence in the HVAC world, continuing to pave the way that Parker and Ingles helped start for future generations of women in the HVAC trade. 

About Garneski Air Conditioning & Heating 

Since 1980, Garneski Air Conditioning & Heating has prioritized the indoor comfort of their Sterling, VA community. Their technicians treat your home like their own as they do their work and leave it spotless on their way out. They’re around the clock hours, and their flat-rate prices provide prompt and affordable service for their clients. Call Garneski Air Conditioning & Heating for all your Sterling AC service needs.