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Monday, December 28, 2015
Hands-on model for attracting girls to aviation gains popularity
The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”Gloria Steinem
Among those leading the shift to gender balance in air and space is the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW), whose flagship outreach program, Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, “is strictly designed to grab the attention of girls of all ages not familiar with the industry and introduce them to the opportunities available to them, hands-on, while building their knowledge of past and present women’s contributions,” explains Mireille Goyer, founder and president.
The program has become truly global in nature. Over the last several years Vancouver-based iWOAW has inspired around 6,000 volunteers in 36 countries to organize outreach activities during the Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, which is held around 8 March of each year – the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license (in 1910) and International Women’s Day (celebrated since 1914). Women-centric events take place at airports, aerodromes and museums around the world, and special commemoration flights are often conducted. Many girls also get to experience their very first flights; general aviation pilots volunteer their time as part of Goyer’s ‘Fly it Forward’ challenge.
While attracting women to aviation vocations can be challenging anywhere – the percentage of female pilots in North America and Europe has been at a virtual stand-still since 1980; and the percentage of female aircraft maintenance technicians is less than 2%, says Goyer – the iWOAW founder believes countries with younger populations such as India and many Asian countries “have a greater potential for exponential growth because the ‘old guard’ is less prevalent and younger people tend to be more willing to challenge the status quo”.
Indeed, India is currently leading the world in terms of percentage of women airline pilots (11% versus less than 5% in the US) despite the fact that India’s first woman pilot, Sarla Thakral, earned her pilot license 25 years after the first American female pilot did, explains Goyer.
The first event inspired by iWOAW in India was held in 2013 in collaboration with the Ninety-Nines India, an association of women pilots. Led by Nivedita Bhasin, ........Read more on Runwaygirlnetwork.com