Bill would take steps to encourage women to pursue aviation careers

Under new legislation introduced Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be directed to establish an advisory panel tasked with promoting organizations and programs that encourage women to pursue careers in aviation.

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Under the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, the FAA would establish and oversee a Women in Aviation Advisory Board to promote education, training, outreach, mentorship, and recruitment of women to pursue education careers.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Senate bill. U.S. Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Mimi Walters (R-CA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Although women make up more than 50 percent of our nation’s workforce, they are significantly underrepresented in the aviation industry, representing just 6 percent of pilots, 4 percent of flight engineers and 2 percent of airline mechanics,” Collins said. “Our bipartisan legislation encourages the aviation industry to offer opportunities, such as pilot training, STEM education, and mentorship programs that would help women to pursue and succeed in aviation-related careers.”

The FAA would also be directed under the bill to report to Congress on trends that discourage women from working in aviation, and on the expansion of existing scholarship opportunities.

“When I was training to become a pilot, it was rare to see another woman in my class,” Duckworth, a veteran of the Army who flew combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, said. “Although some progress has been made to help women enter the aviation field, we are still dramatically underrepresented among pilots and we need to do more.”