Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day; perfect timing for an announcement from the Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Mr Michael McCormack regarding a $4 million investment into a women in aviation grant funding program.
The Women in Aviation Initiative aims to encourage more women to pursue careers in all elements of the aviation sector. The announcement, which coincides with International Women’s Day and Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, follows this week’s historic naming of Western Sydney Airport after Australian aviation pioneer Nancy-Bird Walton.
“Women currently account for only around three per cent of pilots and one per cent of aircraft engineers in the worldwide aviation industry – and quite frankly, that’s something that needs to change,” Mr McCormack said in a press release on Friday.
“Industry and aviation training institutions are already doing some great work in this space, but I am proud this investment from the Liberal and Nationals’ Government will be a major boost to reach more women – no matter their age or location to consider a career in aviation, particularly women in the regions.
“This investment will be used for a wide range of programs to engage with women but one example is to target school-aged students and their parents to better understand the wonderful career opportunities of the aviation sector.
“From the career path of CEOs such as Tigerair’s Merren McArthur to Saskia Ford from CASA who worked the hangar floors as an aircraft engineer, there’s a world of opportunities for women in aviation and not just for pilots, which the Liberals and Nationals want to boost.”
President of the Australian Chapter of Women in Aviation, Tammy Augostin said, “We are thrilled with today’s announcement. Our dedicated WAI Australian chapter committee has been working very closely with industry and government to support and drive this initiative, particularly through the ‘Gender Diversity Round Table’ held at Avalon Airshow last week.
“This funding will support initiatives by significantly advancing outreach programs, and maximising the ability to support young girls and women across regional and remote Australia,” said Ms Augostin.
“The funding will target grass root programs to reach out to young women, whether it will be handing out pamphlets at airports, advertising or even mentoring young women as they find their feet or wings in the aviation industry.
Minister for Jobs and Women Kelly O’Dwyer – who joined the gender diversity roundtable at the air show last week – said investing in women in aviation will help meet the need for skilled workers.
“An increasing number of female aviation professionals will be key to assisting the aviation industry to meet future demands for skilled workers,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
“That major shortfall in female participation – combined with a forecast major growth in demand for air services in the domestic and international markets over the next few decades – means we need to move now to ensure gender diversity becomes the norm in the Australian aviation industry.
“The initiative will be informed by the recent round table which explored ways to promote greater aviation sector diversity and enhanced equality, by addressing a gender gap in industry careers.
“There are more women in work than ever before, but we want it to reach even greater heights, including in aviation.”
AOPA’s Executive Director Ben Morgan said, “This is great news for the general aviation sector. AOPA welcomes this government grant which will encourage more women into aviation. We look forward to a new generation of female pilots as members, participants in our Junior Pilots’ Initiative and in our community in general.”
Initiatives will commence this financial year and the Government will start working with relevant industry groups to put arrangements in place.
Photo by Christopher Miller. Girls in Aviation Day Reno 2018