One hundred cities across the US worked to empower women on October 5, during an event called Girls in Aviation, which taught girls age 8 to 11 the basics of aviation. A yearly event organized by Women in Aviation International, Girls in Aviation Day saw a total of 20,000 girls worldwide taking part. In San Diego among many other activities, like being part of a flight deck crew and be a landing signal officer, the girls used flight simulators to take control of F-22 stealth fighter jets and fly over the city’s skies. A yearly event, Girls in Aviation Day saw a total of 20,000 girls worldwide taking part.
Women account for only about 5 percent of all commercial pilots, said Connie Sheehan, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at the University of Florida in a recent interview. Women pilots have performed incredibly well under the most pressing emergencies. Everyone remembers how, with an engine out, passengers injured and a depressurized cabin, Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults spoke to air traffic control in Philadelphia. “We have, uh, part of the aircraft missing, so we’re gonna need to slow down a bit,” Shults told controllers during the April 17 2018 incident. “I think the fact that people were surprised about how calm she was, that taps into the gender stereotypes that we have,” Sheehan said. “She was so matter of fact, she didn’t fit the stereotype at all.”
Even though women are still a small percentage of commercial and military aviators, they are more accepted now than ever before, said Jane O’Dea, 68. “Women are getting more commonplace in aviation, but there are still people out there who are not aware that women are having viable careers in aviation. I think the flying public, they are kind of oblivious to who is in the cockpit unless something goes wrong,” said O’Dea, who was among the first women to successfully take off and land on an aircraft carrier — one of the ultimate challenges in all of aviation.
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