Diversity in STEM-related fields is critical to innovation, which is why the aviation, aerospace, and other technology-related fields have created initiatives to help develop a more diverse generation of future professionals. In honor of International Women’s Day 2020 and Women in Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW), we are highlighting efforts that encourage girls to consider careers in the aviation and aerospace industry, where women are traditionally underrepresented.
March 8th marks the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license, which was awarded in 1910. Yet, the number of women in the aviation and aerospace industry, while improving, is still underserved. This week not only kicks off International Women’s Day but also is global aviation awareness week, which provides girls of all ages with the opportunity to learn about future careers in the air and space industry.
Collins Aerospace has been one organization that continues to support boosting female representation in the industry. Recently, the company held its annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” day, hosting 2,300 students across 55 locations in the U.S. The number of girls participating was nearly double what it was last year.
The annual event provides the girls with interactive experiences, everything from flying drones, to building robots, to flying airplanes in a simulator. Some students experienced the F-35 helmet and learned about the technology that helps train pilots, while others learned how pilots communicate from the cockpit with the ground and how high speed connectivity works inside the cabin. Across the various Collins Aerospace geographic locations, hands-on experiences were designed to give students a sense of the impact that a career in engineering could have within the aerospace industry.
“The commitment being made by Collins Aerospace will have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of countless girls seeking opportunities in STEM and engineering,” stated Leslie Collins, executive director for DiscoverE, an organization that brings awareness to how “engineers, technicians, and technologists make the world a better place.” Collins Aerospace committed $100,000 to the organization, which supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Similarly, other industry organizations are encouraging girls to explore different types of careers in aviation and space. WOAW encourages corporate organizations to host similar types of events to boost interest at a young age. A few ways to participate include organizing a facility tour, visiting a flight school or offering virtual reality flights, or simply joining WOAW’s Pink Paper Plane Challenge. However it’s accomplished, it is important that the industry continues to seek and encourage diversity now and in the future.