New flight plan to increase the number of women in aviation
How can we break down the barriers that prevent more women from starting and pursuing careers in aviation? A committee in the United States has compiled a list of 55 recommendations to help drive change in the industry, focusing on the areas of culture, recruitment, retention, advancement and data.
The Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB), comprised of 30 women from across industry and academia and established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), created a report titled A Flight Plan for the Future, which is submitted to the FAA this week.
The Council presented its report in an online meeting on March 21, 2022, highlighting how women still face myriad barriers to entering the industry, from lack of information, negative culture, cost of training and misperceptions they don’t have. the physical strength required for certain roles.
Crystal Barrois, first officer, said the goal was to change the flight plan of a young girl, who, for example, might be interested in becoming a pilot, but encounters obstacles throughout her life. She described what this journey is like, ranging from a lack of toys and books depicting female pilots and a lack of information and encouragement at school, taking out loans for training, having to wear ill-fitting uniforms and using manuals that only refer to pilots as “he/her” and then ultimately being kicked out due to poor motherhood and flexible work options.
The 55 recommendations, directed to Congress, the Department of Transportation, the FAA and industry, are aimed at redesigning the system and removing these barriers. They include recommendations on the visual representation of women, uniforms, harassment reporting programs, cadet programs, military career transition, parental leave, mentorship programs, statistics and data.
“The council’s recommendations have been placed along the timeline at these key points and incorporate an overall theme of systematic and cultural change,” Barrois said.
The goal is to create a different timeline, where a young girl reads books describing pilots, technicians and controllers who are women, where her school gives advice on how to become a pilot, where she attends a school piloting with other women, then getting hired and being able to wear a uniform that fits, to flexible work options, then becoming chief pilot and taking on leadership roles.
“It will take all of us – industry, government, non-profits and individuals working together to break down all the barriers that exist for women today,” Barrois said. “We all need to do our part there and at the right time to implement the council’s recommendations so that meaningful change can be made. So that our first wife story becomes a thing of the past and we only hear success stories like the second wife from now on.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson commended the work of the board: “Diversity makes us stronger, it brings new perspectives, more innovation, and frankly, it also makes for better decisions. Women are essential to the continued safety, innovation and success of this industry.
Gender gap data
To highlight the scale of the challenge, the council presented data showing how women typically make up less than 20% of the workforce in aviation professions.
“It just hasn’t gotten much better over the decades,” chief engineer Kelly Jost commented. “We’ve seen tiny increases over time and in the percentage of women in the workforce, and that needs to change.”
Source: 2022 Women in Aviation Advisory Committee
Change won’t be quick either, the board warned, and it will take an industry-wide effort.
“This esteemed group of women has done an incredible job of developing a roadmap to attract, retain and advance more women in aviation,” said Jill Meyers, international aviation consultant. “I echo the words of WIAAB member Bobbi Wells who reminded everyone that these recommendations will take years in total to implement, not weeks or months. Our entire community will need the support of many people and organizations to achieve some semblance of equality.”