[Alyssa Carson 18 y/o pilot]

Why We Need More Female Pilots

Inspired by my first flight & Captain Marvel.

It’s currently 2:00 a.m. on March 8th, 2019.

I just got home from the movie theatre where I watched Marvel’s newest blockbuster:

Captain Marvel

The movie was so empowering and inspired me to want to continue to pursue a flight career and be a strong female leader.

This is Maria, Captain Marvel’s best friend and fellow female pilot. Her call sign is Photon. I didn’t know being a female pilot could get any more badass… it just did. Wait it gets better. Carol Danvers call sign is “Avenger.” To all my fellow Marvel fans, you have permission to freak out now!

There’s lots of movies and stories about strong female characters and female pilots, but this one was different.

More powerful and more impactful than any other female-led movie I’ve seen… so far.

Why?

Yep! You read that right.

Captain Marvel is the first ever female-led Marvel movie.

And there’s been over twenty Marvel movies to date.

1/20 of these movies are female-led and it just came out tonight.

It’s a pretty shocking statistic. Right?

Well wait until you hear how many female pilots there are.

Spoiler alert: there’s not many.

Next, as I’m writing this it’s officially International Women’s Day 2019! (Woo)

And finally, I flew my first ever introductory flight at Buttonville airport, just over a month ago & watching Captain Marvel tonight inspired me to write about female pilots (like hopefully myself in the future).

Amelia Earhart. (Credit: NBC News)

There have been many strong female pilots & aviation engineers to get females to where we are today in the aviation industry.

One of these amazing ladies was Amelia Earhart who was the first ever women to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean. She reached this amazing accomplishment in 1897 and received the United States distinguished flying cross.

Yes, Amelia did go missing. But that’s a story for another time.

Around the time Amelia flew across the Atlantic there was less than 200 female pilots and way more male pilots ranging in the thousands.

In the 1890’s there was a large gender gap in the aviation industry.

Today this gender gap continues.

Recent research says that approximately 6.3% of commercial pilots and 6% of non-commercial pilots are female, in the U.S.

This number is considered low compared to France’s approx. 7.6% and Finland’s ap[rox. 12%.

Globally, only approx. 5.18% of commercial pilots are female.

Percentage of female pilots per airline. (Credit: Forbes & Statista)

This is so crazy. It’s 2019 and the percentage hasn’t even hit 10% yet.

This gap is huge and we NEED to get more females into the aviation industry.

We’re already low on pilots with only 290,000 of pilots in circulation and a high demand for pilots, around the world.

This may seem like a large number of pilots, but there’s many key factors to consider:

  1. Pilots AREN’T always flying — they take breaks, go on vacation, etc.
  2. 2000+ pilots retire every single year and
  3. It takes a long time to train military & airline pilots
  4. It’s also very expensive to train them

So yes. 290,000 pilots is a low number to have in circulation.

And…

we’re way lower on female pilots.

Not only is the gender gap large between female and male pilots, but there is also a large gender pay gap in the aviation industry, as well.

Currently, flight attendants (75% being female)& female pilots make substantially less than male pilots. Earning almost 50% less than the average American male pilot. $50,000+ (flight attendants & female pilots) to $111,000+ (male pilots) average salaries.

Disclaimer: his seems like a HUGE problem, but in reality it is so small compared to the HUGE problems such as, climate change, student debt, and the food & housing crisis’ (and many more). However, making our industries more gender balanced is small compared to those problems. We need to continue working on solving this problem, but we also need to be aware on the HUGE problems in our world and make changes in our lives to help solve them.

Well, what can we do about it? And, how do we get more females into the aviation industry?

And guess what?

If a young girl is passionate or interested in the aviation industry, they can start learning as early as how to fly from 15-years-old (in Canada & the U.S.)!

Awesome, right?

In my case, my Dad was a pilot in the Canadian Air Force. Growing up I wanted to learn how to fly like him and also because I wanted to be (and still do) an astronaut! Through being exposed to strong female role models in the media & movies, and being in a supportive environment, I felt inspired to pursue a career in the aviation industry & in STEM.

[Me & The First Plane I Ever Flew]

I’m only sixteen, at the moment. However, I will be starting ground school to become a pilot, this year! And for the time being I want to use my voice to inspire young girls to follow their dreams & maybe pursue something STEM related.

It’s NOT Just Aviation

We NEED more diversity in the workplace and we NEED to bridge the gender gap in every single industry.

Whatever they choose to do we need to be there to support them along the way, because it’s tough being a girl in STEM.

It’s tough being a girl as is.

Mini spoiler alert:

In Captain Marvel, we see the obstacles/barriers Carol had to overcome, in order to become a pilot in the Air Force. She went through a lot, but like all females. She is strong and powerful & didn’t let anything get between her and her goal of being a pilot!

Luckily, there’s been a lot of improvement over the past couple of decades and I am so grateful that I get to live in time & country where I can speak up for what I believe in & pursue my career goals.

(Stay tuned for an article all about girls in STEM → because it’s super important to get more girls involved in STEM)

We have the power to change our role in industries and pave a new path for the next generation of female leaders.

Female Leaders to Watch In The Aviation Industry

1. Maria Fagerström → Spain

Yoga, surfing, flying, and Youtube? Yep. You can do it ALL. Maria Fagerström is a 24 y/o pilot, yogi, surfer, youtuber, and influencer from Sweden.

She currently lives in Spain, but flies all over the world as a pilot. She shares her experience as a female pilot on Instagram @mariathepilot & on her Youtube channel.

Maria was inspired by her father, who was also a pilot & started working towards her commercial pilots license, at eighteen! She’s the total boss lady package & has inspired ladies all over the world to pursue a career in aviation with her social media presence!

Maria’s advice for aspiring pilots? (from her Youtube Channel)

Google local flight schools, enroll for an introductory lesson, and see if it’s for you :)

Sounds easy enough!

2. Han Siyuan → China

Han Siyuan is one impressive boss lady. In 2017, she held one of 713 licenses to fly, in China as a female. She was one of the only females to be picked for training from Spring Airlines based in Shanghai, in her year. In China there is over 55,000 male pilots to the females 700+ and at Spring Airlines Han is one of six females out of the 800 pilots. The proportion of female pilots to males in China is a shocking 1.3%. Han says she’s “gotten used to living in a mans world” in a Reuters interview. Female pilots are drawing a lot of attention towards the gender imbalance in China and Han is part of the movement!

3. Eva Claire → The Netherlands

Eva operates the B747–400ERF and B747–8 freighters, in Hong Kong. She is a pilot from the Netherlands & hopes to reach her goal of flying a Boeing 747. Prior to Hong Kong, Eva flew planes in Barcelona and studied Journalism. She started a blog called, “Fly with Eva” where she hopes to inspire the next generation of female pilotos with her stories as a pilot on her journey to flying a 747.

4. Alyssa Carson → America

Alyssa Carson is one of my personal biggest role models, as an aspiring astronaut & a highly impressive eighteen y/o. Alyssa who graduated early & just turned eighteen TODAY decided to pursue her passion of becoming one of the first female astronauts on Mars, at a really young age. She attended Space Camps all over the world, had scuba diving, rocket, & pilot training (among other things). Alyssa learned to fly before she could drive & inspires young girls everywhere to pursue their biggest goals — RIGHT NOW. She shows that age doesn’t matter and is a true boss lady. Her Instagram is @nasablueberry (after her call sign).

5. Jennifer Sidney → Canada

Jennifer Sidney is Canadian! And she’s going to space. She is the youngest female astronaut trainee in Canadian history and will be making a dent in the history of aviation… in SPACE. Jennifer is an engineer and a HUGE space enthusiast. She is the future of space and is currently training at NASA with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA-ASC) for her future space missions. You can follow Jenn on twitter @Astro_Jenni

6. Andrea Lewis → America

Andrea Lewis is going down in history! She is Georgia National Guard’s first-ever black woman pilot. She started off her aviation career as a Delta flight attendant after eight years now serves as the 1st lieutenant in the 116th Air Control Wing. Andrea pilots E-8C Joint STARS. She was inspired to join the aviation industry, in the footsteps of her mother — a flight attendant of over 40 years!

7. Hiruni Gunasekara→ Sri Lanka

For most of her childhood she was told that girls aren’t supposed to fly. Hiruni broke down assumptions from her community in Sri Lanka and became a female pilot! She now teaches flight school and proves that girls can fly planes!

8. Jessica Taylor → America

Jessica Taylor is another great first in aviation history. In 2014, Jessica became the first ever trans pilot in history! She is trail blazing a path for gender equality in the aviation industry and is a total boss lady to watch in 2019 & the years to come!

TDLR

  • The number of pilots worldwide is decreasing.
  • We need more female pilots.
  • We need more girls in stem.
  • We need to bridge the gap between the number of females in industries compared to males & the gender pay gap.
  • Right NOW is the perfect time to empower girls to pursue their dream careers and encourage them to explore STEM careers.
  • Young girls need strong female role models to look up to. Real boss ladies & fictional ones too (p.s. Marvel we need more female led movies. p.p.s. Disney you’re doing great in the ladie department, but maybe more male led movies? An LGBTQ+ princess/prince movie?).
  • There’s a ton of awesome females in the aviation industry.
  • If we want to bridge the gender gaps we need to work together.
  • This seems like a HUGE problem, but in reality this is still a really small problem! There’s so many other HUGE problems, we need to focus on like, climate change and the food crisis!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

— African Proverb

If we all work together, we can bridge the gender gaps in the aviation industry and many others.

This International Women’s Month(or whenever you’re reading this article) let’s celebrate all the wonderful female role models in our lives & throughout history and our efforts the other 364 days of the year to bridge the gender gaps, in our society. I challenge everyone reading this article to share it with those future female changemakers in their lives and set your own personal goal to work towards bridging societies gender gaps (mine is to advocate for girl’s rights to education in developing countries & seek a solution to the pressing problem). I hope this article was empowering and if you haven’t already, go watch Captain Marvel with your daughter, best friend, mom, and the boys in your life too. You might just inspire the next female (or male) pilot. Or maybe you’ll find the inner Captain Marvel that was inside you all along. Happy flying :)

(Credit: Marvel Studios)

If you enjoyed this article:

  • Share it with your network.
  • Give it some claps and feedback in the comments.
  • Follow my Medium blog for more articles like this one.
  • Connect with me on Linkedin to stay up to date on my pilot & astronaut journey, and shoot me a message (I love meeting new people)!
  • Follow me on Twitter.
  • Check out my TKS Life Portfolio, for all my past newsletters & projects.
  • Read more about my first flight experience!
  • Subscribe to my newsletter, for monthly updates on what I’m working on!

Thanks for reading ❤ Now go change the world!

18 y/o researching closed-loop systems for earth + space.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store