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An American Eagle E175 at Los Angeles International Airport. American plans to cut services to over a dozen small cities if CARES Act funding is not extended. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Greg Linton)

How Congress Is Trying to Bring More Women Into Aviation

In a bipartisan effort to create more opportunities for women in the aviation industry, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), are cosponsoring a bill called the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act. The bill, which was put into committee Dec. 18, aims to enlarge the footprint of women in the generally male-dominated industry.

The bill was created because, as the bill says, “women make up over 50 percent of the national workforce,” but “only 2 percent of airline mechanics, 4 percent of flight engineers, 5 percent of repairmen, 26 percent of air traffic controllers, 18 percent of flight dispatchers, and 6 percent of pilots.”

The bill would also give Congress a definitive stance on women in the aviation industry.

“It is the sense of Congress that the aviation industry should explore all opportunities, including pilot training, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and mentorship programs, to encourage and support female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation,” the bill continues on.

The bill, if it makes it through the Senate, House of Representatives, and President Donald Trump’s desk, would create an advisory board with members in five different aerospace-related industry sectors, all with the central purpose of encouraging women and girls to enter the aviation workforce.

This bill, however, is not the only one in Congress to push for an increase in the number of women in aviation. House Resolution 4254, better known as the Women in Aerospace Education Act, is a bill brought before the House of Representatives last year by Representative Stephen Knight, (R-Calif.-25). The bill was cosponsored by Representative Elizabeth Etsy (D-Conn.-05).

Introduced in November, the Women in Aerospace Education Act aims “[t]o amend the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 to strengthen the aerospace workforce pipeline by the promotion of Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and National Aeronautics and Space Administration internship and fellowship opportunities to women, and for other purposes.”

The second purpose of the bill would be to require NASA to”prioritize the recruitment of qualified candidates who are women or individuals who are historically underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and computer science for internships and fellowships at NASA with relevance to the aerospace sector and related fields.”

On Dec. 19, the bill passed the House of Representatives with flying colors, passing by an overwhelming margin of 409 yeas to 17 nays. The bill then headed to the Senate, where it was referred to committee with the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the same committee currently holding the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act.

With two bipartisan bills on the topic currently in the Senate, it is highly likely at least one will pass, which ideally, will lead to its objectives being achieved in the coming years. While they both serve somewhat different purposes, the bills both aim to bring more women into the aviation industry, working in every job from aircraft mechanics to NASA engineers.

None of that will be easy though. There would still be tons of work to be done in order to give women the same footprint as men in the industry, but these bills are just the start of the next effort to bring more women into the industry that keeps people moving, business flourishing, and the world connected day in and day out.

Parker Davis
Parker Davis
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