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Mon, Feb 12, 2007

Wanted: Women With An Interest in Aviation Careers

The Aviation Industry Wants YOU

Admittedly, there is a wide gender gap in aviation... particularly among pilots and mechanics. But the word is getting out, with the help of events like Saturday's Aerospace Career Day, organized by the Girl Scouts and the Alaskan Chapter of the 99s.

With the mission of raising awareness for women considering a future in aviation, the event featured speakers from a wide range of careers, including air traffic  control, airport management, and pilots, in a KTUU television report.

For organizers, the long-term goal is to spark an interest in math, science and technology in young women - and show them some of the opportunities available.

"Introduce girls to different careers, in this case, the aerospace industry that are interesting and challenging and keep them interested in math and science," said Roberta Degenhardt of the Alaska Chapter of the 99's, "in an effort to give them more opportunities for careers as they reach high school."

FAA statistics demonstrate the size of aviation's gender gap. Of the more than 600,000 licensed pilots in the US, only 6 percent are women. That gap widens with other careers, such as in mechanics, where fewer than 2 percent are women.

According to the FAA's 2005 General Aviation Statistical Databook, there were 37,243 female pilots in 2004, including student; recreational; private, commercial and airline transport pilots; and flight instructors. Non-pilot women accounted for 18,666, including mechanics, repairmen, parachute riggers, ground instructors, dispatchers, flight navigators, and flight engineers. Those numbers aren't much larger than the 1997, when women accounted for 34,460 pilots and 14,562 in non-pilot positions.
The gender gap among military pilots is even wider than in the civilian population, with just 2.5 percent women.

For today's young women, however, the skies the limit.

"Almost anything you could think of there is an opportunity, especially now with the space program, that you might be a microbiologist or a horticulturalist or a doctor or a pilot and be able to go into space," Degenhardt said. "We said just about the only thing they don't have yet are real estate agents, but that'll probably be coming soon."

And, lest we forget... for women in the lower 48 looking for information on aerospace careers, the annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference kicks off Wednesday in Orlando, FL. -- Ed.

FMI: www.ninety-nines.org, www.faa.gov, www.gama.aero/dloads/2005GAMAStatisticalDatabook.pdf

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