Women in ASHRAE
Bringing Enrichment Through Diversity
Diverse perspectives result in better design because more points of view are considered. The same can be said about diversity’s impact on the vision and programs of a professional engineering society. As such the Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE values the participation of Women in the heating and air conditioning field in our leadership, committees, program planning, and events.
Since forming in early 2019, the Women in ASHRAE have planned and presented chapter meetings and other events with special appeal not only for women engineers in particular but for all chapter members. The Women in ASHRAE wasted no time turning the spotlight on issues of particular importance to all engineers and the firms that employ them.
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“While we have seen an increase in young women enrolling in STEM disciplines at the university level, we have not seen the same increase in the percent of women employed in the STEM workforce. This inconsistency can be attributed to poor retention of women once they enter the profession.” This message was illustrated at the January 2019 chapter meeting by ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Julia Keen, Professor of Architectural Engineering and Construction Science at Kansas State University. Years of special research and study indicated several reasons why women leave the industry and what can be done to help increase retention. This highly attended, eye-opening presentation launched the chapter’s Women in ASHRAE.
“How to Get to Yes with Win-Win Negotiations,” in June 2019, narrated and demonstrated simple but effective ways to negotiate win-win outcomes that mutually benefit all parties in a relationship. Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow, J.D., M.Ed., Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Management and Business Law at the Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, combined lecture with audience role playing to teach how to get all parties on board and motivated to collaborate and agree on mutually beneficial solutions.
“Strategies for Building a Better Workplace” was the topic at the WIA’s second monthly meeting offering, in January 2020. Jaclyn Jensen, an Associate Professor of Human Resources at DePaul University, moderated a panel of three principals of leading engineering firms and departments who discussed workplace initiatives to improve employee morale and productivity while reducing staff turnover.
Join and Get Involved. The Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE has had increasing involvement of women in recent years and we hope to encourage and continue to build this participation! Please join us at our meetings, happy hours, and planning events. Contact Nancy Kohout, our Women in ASHRAE subcommittee chair with any questions at [email protected] or 312.371.3493.
ALSO: If you are interested in participating in the WIA Mentorship program, please reach out to Amy Mueller at [email protected] or 630.418.9504.
Photo captions: (top) Women gather for a group photo following the Jan. 2019 chapter meeting, which helped launch the Illinois Chapter Women in ASHRAE. (middle) Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow leads a role-playing demonstration of successful negotiating tactics. (bottom) Cherish Samuels outlines some of the ideas for assuring productivity at McDonalds Corporation where she manages a team of architects, engineers and kitchen designers.