Industry body Aviation/Aerospace Australia has launched a social media campaign to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The campaign, which will run throughout the month of March, hopes to inspire females to pursue a career in aviation and aerospace, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The social media posts, which use the hashtag #givegirlswings, show women in a variety of professional aviation roles.
Louise is an Aeronautical Engineer at 161 Technical Support Troop for 1 Aviation Regiment, The Australian Army – "I love that no two days are the same and working with the ARH Tiger means I am challenged every day." #givegirlswings #helicopter pic.twitter.com/I7gVUeS9kM
— AviationAerospaceAus (@Avi_AeroAus) March 7, 2018
Aviation/Aerospace Australia executive director Tamara Bell says the exercise is all about ensuring girls and women know about types of careers available in the industry.
“What we are doing is we are posting images and videos on our social media sites which showcase the diverse appeal of careers in our aviation or aerospace industries,” Bell explained to Australian Aviation in an interview.
“We are trying to make it a bit more approachable to young girls that might see things on social media and know that they can do any of these things, whether it be a pilot or an aircraft maintenance engineer or an aerospace engineer.”
Industry figures show the aviation industry is expected to double over the next 20 years.
Indeed Boeing’s 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook forecasts a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots around the world over the next two decades.
Meanwhile, it forecasts a requirement for 648,000 airline maintenance technicians over those 20 years.
The report also estimated there would be 839,000 new cabin crew members needed over the next 20 years.
That will require airlines, workshops and air traffic managers to increase the pool of candidates from which they recruit.
And encouraging more women to consider a job in these sectors looms as a key plank of meeting that target.
Across the industry currently, about five per cent of pilots are women, while the figure is lower for technical jobs such as aircraft maintenance engineers.
Bell, who established the Women in Aviation/Aerospace Australia initiative in 2013, said companies have realised their recruitment processes and policies needed to change in order to increase the diversity of their workforce and appeal to a wider range of applicants.
“Companies are on board with policies and strategies and aims for increasing gender diversity. I think we’ve achieved that in our industry, both civil and defence,” she said.
“Our theme this year is strategies and policies that are better for women are better for all. We are trying to change the language so it is not just about women, it is about everyone.”
“Parenting is a family concept, not just a women’s concept.”
Aviation/Aerospace Australia has held nine Women in Aviation summits over the past five years, which have featured more than 1,000 attendees and 100 industry speakers from civil and defence across all sectors of the industry.
One such example of a company looking to recruit more women is Qantas, which in 2017 publicly unveiled the Nancy Bird Walton initiative.
Named after the pioneering Australian aviatrix, it aims to increase the number of qualified women in Qantas’s pilot recruitment programs to 20 per cent in 2018 and doubling it the following year.
Ultimately, the goal is to reach a pilot intake that comprised 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women within a decade.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told a Male Champions of Change Leaders forum in Sydney in November 2017 the airline is targeting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in schools, flying schools and cadet programs.
“We must work at the grassroots level to encourage girls and women into studies that can lead to a career in aviation,” Joyce told the forum, as reported by Fairfax Media.
“We just need to reinforce the message that girls and women belong in technical jobs.
“It is going to take a concerted effort but it’s time for a moonshot vision for gender equality.”
There has been progress too in the Australian Defence Force, with the first two female fighter pilots completing their operational conversion course onto the F/A-18 Hornet in December 2017.
The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) first women pilots were presented their “Wings” in 1988. Females have been able to apply for selection to fly fast jets since 1995.
An Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report published in 2017 on the lack of female pilots in the RAAF found it was no one single barrier or problem but rather “a series of factors that have prevented the progress of both female and male pilots”.
The RAAF accepted all but three of the AHRC report’s 65 recommendations, with many relating to changes already in place or under way.
Elsewhere across social media other aviation organisations have been celebrating International Women’s Day, including the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide:
#March8 is #PinkPaperPlaneDay. Already, 297 locations across the globe are uniting to celebrate the 108th anniversary of the world's first #FemalePilot licence & #IWD2018 Join us. Download your #WOAW18 Pink Paper Plane today. https://t.co/vAE9L2l3RW pic.twitter.com/KeDZY1ksSc
— iWOAW (@WomenOfAviation) March 7, 2018
— AirservicesAustralia (@AirservicesNews) March 7, 2018
And the Qantas Founders Museum:
During the Second World War the demand on Qantas maintenance facilities increased. With men away fighting, women proved they were capable of doing what needed to be done. #IWD2018 #ThrowbackThursday #Qantas #avgeek pic.twitter.com/frUCTePLDy
— QantasFoundersMuseum (@qfom) March 7, 2018