Jan. 14, 2021

NBAA Board of Directors member Kate Fraser and Advisory Council member Kriya Shortt shared their perspectives on how to create pathways to success for women in the aviation industry during a recent FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) meeting.

Shortt, senior vice president of global parts distribution at Textron Aviation, outlined a number of key industry organizations and programs that have been connecting with young people and girls specifically. Women in Aviation’s Girls in Aviation Day, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s High School Aviation STEM curriculum and other initiatives seek to spark a passion for aviation in young people.

Shortt said these initiatives, while popular and worthy activities, aren’t quite as successful as necessary to truly diversify the industry. One challenge is that they are independent of one another, so there’s a lack of visibility into each young person’s progress through the industry.

“While each of the aforementioned organizations are critical to the foundation of building a diverse workforce, we have not made sufficient progress on expanding the awareness of our industry with young women,” said Shortt, who explained that among two groups of young women recently introduced to the WIAAB, the vast majority had discovered aviation as a potential career through friends or family connections.

“This suggests that a broader perspective – outside of the industry – may be beneficial in amplifying our reach and increasing awareness,” Shortt explained.

Kate Fraser, head of safety at Joby Aviation, shared the importance of collecting data on organizations attempting to bring girls and women into aviation careers, as well as their overall impact on diversity in the industry in general. The WIAAB is conducting a survey of such organizations to determine the scope of each.

“There are a lot of fascinating groups working to get girls and women involved in aviation,” said Fraser, emphasizing it’s important to know what demographics each group is targeting and ultimately reaching.

The WIAAB is not just looking at gender, but at different ethnic and economic groups. The survey and related work will help WIAAB develop a roadmap to reach a broader group of girls and women.

“We think we can dig in a little more if we have a broader picture of what is out there,” said Fraser.

The WIAAB was formed in October 2019 and industry leaders were appointed to the board in May 2020. Going forward, the WIAAB plans to promote organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach and recruitment of women for positions in the aviation industry.