Inspiring the next generation of women in aviation

  • “When I was growing up, it was always men in posters advertising jobs in Canada’s aviation industry. There were never any women represented at the career fairs or in the media.”

    We heard it time and time again. Prominent women in our country’s aviation industry talking about the struggle to see themselves reflected in those who held their dream jobs.

    Yet as they shared about their challenge to find female role models, the scene in front of us couldn’t have been any more opposite.

    Yes, these prominent women in our industry were sharing about their lack of representation, but they were sharing it with a group of 150 girls ages 8-17.

    This happened earlier this month, at the annual Girls in Aviation event hosted by the Winnipeg chapter of Women in Aviation International called Northern Spirit. The purpose of the event is to end the experience of so many of the presenters and to show girls in Manitoba they can and should work in aviation.

    If I had to choose one word to describe the atmosphere, I’d say electric. These young, energetic girls are put in an environment where they’re walking onto planes like the C-130 Hercules, and they’re just so excited to be talking to women who actually work on them.

    But it wasn’t just women pilots who were represented—it was so many different types of jobs one could find in the aviation industry. There were women who were aerospace engineers, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, radar technicians and aircraft mechanics, to name a few. No matter what type of aviation jobs these girls were interested in, they could find a strong female role model in that same position.

    As a young woman myself, I know how important that day was for the girls who attended. They now have someone to look up to as they think about their life paths—someone to describe in real life and aspire to be.

    And as someone who works in aviation, I know how important our industry is to Manitoba and the rest of Western Canada.

    There’s nothing that gives me more hope for the future of our vital industry than to see the eyes of 150 young girls light up as they realize their full potential to be part of the next generation of aviation professionals.

    Sandra Chewka is a research assistant with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

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