The path to increasing the number of women working in the aviation industry starts with STEM education and providing young girls with role models who help them see the possibility of aviation as a career.
Six Embry-Riddle alumnae will be working to do just that as members of a newly formed Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB). Appointed to the board by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, the alumnae include: Crystal L. Barrois (’04), Dana Donati (’19), Kathryn Fraser (’18), Laura Benson Jones (’03), Rebecca Lutte (’91) and Col. Martha Morris (’02).
The 30-member WIAAB will develop recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration regarding education, training, mentorship, outreach and recruitment of women in the aviation industry.
A tenured associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Aviation Institute, Rebecca Lutte (’91) says there is a lot of work to be done. An aircraft owner/pilot and a nationally recognized scholar on women in the aviation workforce, Lutte says there are significant gaps in the number of women in aviation in most fields, but particularly in professional pilots (5% women) and maintenance technicians (2.4% women).
“We need to take a hard look at the reasons for these gender gaps and develop new strategies that not only address these barriers, but also focus on the factors that draw women into aviation,” she says.
Laura Benson Jones (’03), a certificated flight instructor and airline transport pilot, agrees. As chair of the board of Flight Club 502 — a nonprofit that uses aerospace lessons to inspire and develop life skills in youth — she is ready to make a difference. “We’d love to move the needle on increasing the number of girls pursuing careers in aerospace,” she says.