Dec. 4. 2020

The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly severe on women professionals, but in the face of those challenges, women in business aviation are finding new ways to support each other. They are seizing the moment, making positive career or life changes, and even innovating in new ways.

A Thought Leadership Session on Dec. 3 for the NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) addressed Women in Aviation: We Can’t Afford to Lose Them. A five-women panel moderated by Textron Aviation Senior Vice President of Parts & Programs Kriya Shortt offered an inspiring view of how women in the industry are pivoting and responding during the pandemic.

“The shifts that are happening will look different, but we are finding new ways to do things,” said Lindsey Dreiling, executive director of aviation strategy at Kansas State Polytechnic. “In a way, the pandemic has opened a doorway to some who didn’t have access before.”

Dreiling noted enrollment numbers in her university’s aviation programs are actually higher than they were last year. The institution also has become more open to flexible schedules for its employees and their needs as family members.

René Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, noted that her company has seen many more women utilizing their aircraft purchasing, sales and leasing services. “Women are using business aviation in unprecedented numbers,” she said. “About half of our transactions this year have been with women.”

As a member of the DOT Women in Aviation Advisory Board, Banglesdorf shared that her subcommittee is looking at the many success stories of women in aviation to inspire others. “If we make aviation more attractive to women, we make it more attractive to everyone,” she asserted.

Sheryl Barden has seen many industry trends as president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, but she feels the pandemic has made it more important than ever for women to stretch themselves “out of your comfort zone.”

“Take this time to learn how to advocate for yourself. Get your own seat at the table,” encouraged Barden, who also noted the importance of having a mentor for support.

Shortt reflected that way the business aviation community supported each other through the COVID era has inspired hope in women across the industry. “That human factor is really important,” she said. “I hope we continue the warmth and that human side after COVID is over.”