Sometimes, all it takes is a role model. This month, twenty 8th and 9th grade girls went to Fleet Week in San Francisco and learned that working in aviation can mean a lot more than being a flight attendant.
Hosted by United Airlines, our girls met a diverse panel of female United employees, from pilots, to mechanics, and engineers. Girls prepared questions ahead of time, and asked the panelists about their jobs, what they liked most, and what it was like to be around airplanes. One member of the Chix Fix, an all-female team of aviation technicians at United, said “keeping airplanes in top shape is fast-paced, challenging work, and critical to airline safety. If you want a job that matters, pick this one.”
One participant who is interested in a military career asked about going to college. A panel member talked about her own career trajectory as a military officer and now as a commercial pilot. She advised our girls to absolutely go to college, reminding them that there are armed services scholarships available which will not only help with tuition, but allow recipients to start their careers as officers.
Besides the panel discussion, girls watched an airshow, including a performance by the Leap Frogs, the US Navy Parachute Team. After the sky divers landed, the girls met the team, asked questions, and learned how to pack a parachute. NBC Bay Area was on hand to interview our girls and Giselle L., a Girls Inc. 9th grader, practiced her public speaking on live TV and let us all know that “you don’t have to be male to do a certain job.”
Introducing girls to non-traditional career options is a key component of Girls Inc. programming. When girls meet women in STEM careers, they have a chance to imagine themselves in roles they may not have considered. As one participant said, “I thought only men drove planes, not women. I might want to do that one day.”