Typically as a woman in this industry, I am in the minority of attendees at a conference. In fact, I joked with a friend who puts on a conference that I was the ONLY woman in his promotional material that showed more than fifty participants. However, last month, we turned the tables.

The General Aviation committee of the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) hosted a women’s leadership event in Boca Raton, Florida. There were eight brave men—and nearly ninety women in attendance.

As I emceed the event as IAWA’s VP of Communications, I looked out over the crowd of industry leaders, contemplating just how many of them have shaped my career. I felt empowered and encouraged. None of them realized they were building my career at the time, but it’s the little things that each of us do every day as natural mentors that shape the professional lives of other women in aviation.

The focus of the event was to facilitate conversation on how the aviation industry can more effectively recruit women to serve in the workforce. Our industry is facing severe pilot, mechanic and engineering shortages. If we aren’t actively recruiting women, we are missing out on more than 50% of the available candidates.

If each one of us makes just a little extra effort to encourage or mentor another woman, imagine where we could be in the years to come.

Each of the following women invested in the industry by speaking at the forum:

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie; Shaesta Waiz, founder of Dreamssoar.org, currently the youngest woman to fly solo around the world; Lt. Col. (USAF-Ret) Christine Mau, who owns the title of first woman to fly the F-35 Lightning II for the U.S. Air Force; and recruiter Craig Pickens.

On behavioral intelligence: Emily Weber, Embraer Executive Jets; Megan Wolf, Flexjet; Jullie Alston, Aero & Marine Tax Professionals; Joanne Barbera, Barbera & Watkins; and Sonia Greteman, Greteman Group Marketing Communications.

On humanitarian efforts: Jodie Krisiak, pilot for the New England Donor Services (NEDS), managed by Solarius Aviation; Robin Eissler, Founder of Sky Hope Network; Eileen Minogue, Patient Airlift Services (PALS).

On regulatory issues: Amanda Joyner, GAMA; Katie DeLuca, Harper, Meyer, Perez, Hagen, O’Connor, Albert & Dribin; Laura Everington, Universal Weather; Rebecca Mulholland, NATA; Jacquelyn Gluck, Roller & Bauer; Sierra Grimes, NBAA.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to the group congratulating us on the event and soliciting our support for her Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would encourage women to pursue careers in aviation and promote programs to support their professional development in the field.

About the International Aviation Women’s Association
IAWA is a non-profit association with members in 38 countries representing 257 major companies and aviation authorities. IAWA is dedicated to promoting the advancement of women in the aviation and aerospace industries at all levels across the globe. In addition to providing annual scholarships, IAWA sponsors informative meetings, publishes newsletters, and hosts receptions, connects, regional forums, and annual conferences all over the world. For more information visit www.iawa.org.