All Women's Flight Crew: What Does This Mean For Women in Aviation

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Sunday, October 5th, 2019, will go down in history one of the biggest days in the aviation world. On the now popular International Girls in Aviation Day, Delta Airlines, under the WING program, chose to have a flight fully planned and orchestrated by a female crew - something that has never happened in many airlines.

What a statement! It’s not like women haven’t worked in aviation before. Indeed, in pretty much every single position you can imagine in aviation, women are working there alongside male colleagues. But, an all-women crew? That has rarely happened in the past, but with the aviation trying to promote career interest in aviation and particularly with women, these trends will likely continue.

What’s even more impressive is that it wasn’t just the flying. Everything about the flight was planned and executed by women. From ramp agents working on the ground to gate agents and operators in the control tower - it was all women. 

Why it’s an Incredible Breakthrough

Out of the 609,306 pilots working in the USA today, only about 7% are women. This is according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Center. That’s more than 42,000 pilots. But, it’s a small number nonetheless, compared to the number of male pilots.

What’s even more worrying is that the number of female pilots has only increased by 1% over the last ten years. Also, the number of women enrolled in aviation training programs remains very small compared to the male gender. At the end of 2017, only 12.9% of FAA pilot students were female. 

As one expert aptly puts it, the gender gap is so wide you could fly a plane through it. And, that plane would be flown by a man. 

It is for this reason that Delta started the WING program – to close the gender gap in aviation. Rolled out in 2015, WING’s primary goal is to “expose young girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with the aim of diversifying the male-dominated aviation industry.” To date, WING has flown more than 600 female aviation students. 

The special all-women flight from Salt Lake City to Houston on this year’s Girls in Aviation Day was the culmination of a 5-year effort and a sign of the progress made by the WING program. At least 120 female students between the age of 12 and 18 were on the flight. 

An Inspiration for Young Women in and Hoping to Pursue Aviation

The biggest achievement of the flight, however, is not getting the all-women crew into the skies but the inspiration it gives young women in or hoping to pursue aviation. Katelyn, a 17-year old participant, for instance, says the trip made her realize that her aviation dreams are possible. 

“It didn’t seem so realistic to go after a career in aviation,” she told reporters after the trip. “But, today, I realized that I can do this too. 

Karyanna, another participant, said, “I never thought I would have this experience,” adding that “it has inspired my love for aviation.” 

Aside from the students, such flights also serve as an inspiration for women currently working in aviation. 

“I am deeply inspired by the next generation,” said Captain Kimberly Gibson. “I think it’s one of the best things that Delta has done to put themselves out there while simultaneously showing young women that the door to aviation is open.”

It's the Right Thing to Do

As earlier mentioned, aviation has, for so long been dominated by men. By incepting young women to the world of aviation, Delta is helping create a new generation of pilots and aviation workers. And, they’re doing it by letting the young women see and experience, rather than just read about flying a plane.

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