DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is aiming to change the industry and increase their number of female student pilots through new initiatives.
Here are five things you should know.
1. Fourteen Percent: Right now, about 14 percent of those studying aeronautical sciences within the college of aviation are women. The college of aviation has 2854 students total with 15.5 percent of them being women. Embry-Riddle hopes to increase that to 25 percent.
2. Cultural Bias: Michele Halleran, Director of Diversity Initiatives in the College of Aviation, believes cultural bias could be the reason why more girls are not becoming pilots as a career. "When I first started doing research they said hey, it's the traveling right, it's hard on your family and you want to have babies and all that," Halleran said. "That is poppycock and the reason it is because 80 percent of the flight attendants are females. They are having children, they have families."
3. Mentorship: To bring more girls into their aviation program, the school has launched several initiatives to encourage them. This fall, they started a Women's Ambassador Mentorship Program. "It’s gotten really, really good feedback," Halleran said. "More than half of our women students participate in this on a monthly basis and we are getting the feedback that the women like it because they are being supported in our college as well as in the program they actually know people when they walk into their classes, they are not all by themselves."
4. Scholarships: Embry-Riddle also offers sscholarships for girls interested in becoming pilots. "It was a big proponent in me coming here as well because without that I probably would not be able to come here or even to fly, not just the schooling but to pay for all the flight courses, you really need the scholarships to be able to make it," said Kiristan Waters, a senior aeronautical sciences student.
5. Pilot Shortage: Embry-Riddle hopes that bringing more women into the industry could also help fill the looming worldwide pilot shortage. "I think that increasing the diversity really helps in changing the industry," said Carolina Anderson, an Associate Professor. "I also think that increasing the amount of women you are going to be able to draw from a larger pool so that is another advantage so I think it is overall very positive."