Over the past 15 years, the number of women in aviation has plateaued. Across all aspects of aviation women currently only make up a fraction of the workforce – between 2% in mechanic roles to just over 16% in air traffic control. So, why is this, and what can we do about it?

A-WING (Aviation Women Inspiring the Next Generation) is a non-profit organization working to raise awareness of the challenges faced by women in aviation, and to encourage the industry to take action.

With the aviation industry still facing a shortage of skilled workers, there is no time like the present to embrace more diversity in aviation and inspire the next generation of aviation professionals.

Breaking the Barriers

In 2022 the FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) outlined 55 recommendations to address the issue of why women tend to steer away from aviation. The barriers are across recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in aviation.

WIAAB found the greatest challenges were:

1. Awareness and Engagement: One major hurdle is insufficient early awareness and ongoing engagement to attract women to aviation. Many women are unaware of the opportunities in the aviation industry and have never considered an aviation-related job. Closely following barriers are a lack of appeal and uncertainty about where to begin.

2. Retention Challenges: Various factors contribute to the difficulties faced by women in aviation. These include financial burdens, struggles with work-life balance, a scarcity of women in leadership roles, and negative workplace culture.

3. Limited Advancement Opportunities: Women in aviation often encounter barriers when seeking career progression. These obstacles can range from gender bias and unequal access to mentorship and networking opportunities to a lack of support for professional development.

A-WING’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in aviation are multi-faceted. A-WING’s mission is not only to promote gender equality and diversity in the aviation industry but also to reach out to women and present aviation as a possible career. One of the ways they do this is by partnering with schools and organizations to provide educational resources and career guidance to young women.

They also organize events and workshops where you can meet with industry professionals and learn more about the various field within the industry. Many people don’t realize the array of different job paths in the industry. Options include – accounting, marketing, legal, research, coordination, sales, and of course, pilots, maintenance, and air traffic control, to name just a few! The organization provides support and networking opportunities for women already working in the industry, and mentoring, internships, and scholarships for those just starting.

Through mentorship and networking programs, women can receive guidance and support from experienced aviation professionals who can help them navigate the challenges of working in the aviation industry and open up more opportunities to which they may not otherwise have access.

A-WING also offers training opportunities for women in aviation. By providing access to educational resources and training programs, A-WING helps women build their skills and knowledge, which can lead to better job opportunities and career advancement.

Charting a Course for the Future

The work of the Women in Aviation Advisory Board is encouraging. The recommendations are a call for action from Congress, the FAA, and the industry to address the workforce issues.

A-WING’s impact within the aviation industry is growing, and the organization is making its presence felt at industry events and conferences. For example, A-WING had a strong presence at the April 2023 MRO Americas conference, where A-WING members participated in panel discussions and networking events, sharing their experiences and insights.

A-WING’s participation in the MRO Americas conference was an important opportunity for the organization to raise awareness of its mission and to connect with industry leaders who share its commitment to promoting gender equality and diversity in aviation. It also provided a visible presence with a wider audience, helping to inspire more people to get involved.

Ongoing Impact on Aviation

While A-WING continues to grow and expand its reach, hopefully, others will take up the commitment too. Promoting and inspiring more women to pursue careers in aviation helps create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

At the same time, this will address the ongoing workforce shortages impacting the aviation industry. By empowering more women to pursue careers in aviation, and providing support and networking opportunities for women already working in the industry, we can all ensure a bright future for aviation.

Did you know that ‘START PAC was created by a passionate engineer/pilot and a visionary businesswoman [Judith] who have been able to infuse their expertise, energy and enthusiasm into an everlasting family entrepreneurial spirit.’ Judith is now the Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board. At the helm, Eve leads the way for women in senior aviation management positions as START PAC’s CEO and President. START PAC has a strong and diverse team ready to help keep you flying.