Empowering Girls to Reach Towards the Sky

Closing the gender gap in aviation.

Dec 6, 2019

From the beginning of the aviation age, women took to the skies. What little girl didn't dream of being like the first female pilot Baroness Raymonde Laroche or Amelia Earhart who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

 In October, Delta flew 120 girls from Salt Lake City, Utah to NASA in Houston, Texas by an all- female crew on International Girls in Aviation Day so that they too could reach for the sky and shoot for the stars.

Today, women work as pilots  in both commercial and in the military. But  the number of female pilots' pales in comparison to male aviators. At the end of 2017, only 13 percent of FAA student pilots were women according to CAOPA Centre For Aviation, while women make up 75 percent of all flight attendants.

To close the gender gap in aviation, Delta has worked tirelessly to create their WING program. According to Delta, the program (founded in 2015), works to “diversify a male-dominated industry and expose girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers at a young age."

For years, women have lagged behind men in subjects such as physical science, mathematical sciences, computer science, and engineering and technology (STEM). This program is on a mission to bridge these gaps, and they started by inviting 600 female aviation students to experience their chosen field in a way they may not be able to otherwise. 

On International Girls in Aviation Day, Delta completed their fifth all-female WING flight, where the female students ages 12-18 were invited into the normally male-dominated world of aviation. From start to finish, the entirE flight was planned and carried out by women (including TSA security) according to a Delta press release. The students came from schools that have STEM programs or aviation programs.

Everyone from the gate crew to the ramp agents to the pilots were female. The WING flight flew to Houston to visit NASA space centers, where students met with some of the organization’s most influential leaders, including NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer, Jeanette Epps. 

Katelyn, a 17-year-old invited on the journey was thrilled by the opportunity. "It didn't seem realistic to go after a career in aviation, but today I realized, Hey, I can do this too.”

Delta’s trip to Houston didn’t just leave a lasting mark on the students. Captain Kimberly Gibson told Today that she’s in awe of what the airline is doing for the next generation. 

"I think that there are more and more girls these days that understand that the world is an open door. I think this is one of the best things Delta can do to put themselves out there, to put our airline out there and to grow the next generation of pilots."

We all know it’s not that females don’t excel in STEM subjects, it’s that they’re not always supported as much as their male counterparts. With major corporations like Delta leading the way, we might all experience the winds of change. And if these young, eager students have anything to do with it, we might hear their voices too as they welcome us aboard the aircraft.

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REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.