Authors Note: I thought of and scrapped a lot of titles for this blog for fear of the Google searches I might pop up on. Fingers crossed that this ends up being relatively safe…
There are things that the average HVACR technician does every day without even thinking about it. Leaning forward into their ladder to use their hands or carrying something heavy braced against their chest. Now imagine doing those seemingly simple things with short arms and a set of double-D (or greater) breasts. That’s where things start to get complicated. Not to mention painful.
I got a message from a female field technician who was seriously struggling. She is pretty new to the field and as you can probably imagine, doesn’t have a lot of female mentors* to ask these kinds of questions to. It may sound silly, even laughable, but the reality is, with arms already on the shorter side made shorter by a few extra inches of chest, something as basic as installing a ductless split unit can be a real challenge. It’s a matter of leverage. Basic physics. Add to that the fact that it can HURT when the chest gets in the way and you’ve got a problem that needs solving. For all you men out there rolling your eyes, imagine having to brace an evaporator against your crotch as you lift it…yeah, it’s like that. Not scoffing now, are ya? Our soft squishy parts weren’t meant to do heavy lifting any more than yours were.
So here’s the question…how are you well-endowed ladies protect “the ladies” while carrying heavy items, working from a ladder, etc.? Up and coming lady technicians would really like to know.
I did some quick Googling and found a couple of options to use as food for thought. There are some pretty sturdy sports bra options out there that focus on support and compression to minimize. I found some great options at Title Nine. They have options going up as high as an F cup. Not a bad start… I also discovered that there are bras specifically made for female boxers that have foam or plastic inserts to protect against boob abuse. They also have compression to minimize. These were a little harder to source, but if you search for “Protective Sports Bras” you get options from Amazon and a couple of other suppliers. There was a couple of options form a boxing supply store too.
In addition to options for protecting and shrinking the “ladies,” which can only get you so far, I remembered reading about a wall bracket tool that can provide hands-free assistance specifically with ductless split evaporator installation. Even before this specific issue, I thought the bracket was a pretty cool idea. For anyone working alone, it is very difficult and not very practical to both hold the evaporator section up on the wall, nice and level while wiring, piping, etc.
So that’s a start, but I think we can do better. Let’s crowd-source some ideas on this. Can you help a girl out?
* The lack of female mentors is something that the Women in HVACR organization is actively working to address. A mentor/mentee finder program is in the works and should be up and running shortly. In the meantime, anyone interested in mentoring or being mentored should send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you with your perfect match!