An all-female crew in the air and on the ground landed an Air Canada flight at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) — something that is not often seen in the field of aviation.
The landing marks the start of the sixth annual Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW), a global initiative designed to bring awareness to aviation opportunities available to women in the air and space industry. The event is organized by The Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (IWOAW).
Today in Canada, there are 24,332 licenced commercial pilots, but only six per cent are women. Of the 1,772 Canadian air traffic controllers, only 15 per cent are female, and just two per cent of aircraft maintenance technicians are female.
Mireille Goyer, a pilot based in Vancouver, founded WOAW in 2011 with hopes to eliminate the perception that the air and space industry is a field for just men. Since 2015, 96,000 people have participated in the annual celebration.
Throughout history, women have faced numerous roadblocks when it comes to aviation. The first female pilot, Raymonde de Laroche, wasn’t issued a pilot’s licence until 1910 in France. Canada didn’t see its first female pilot until 1928, when Eileen Vollick obtained hers.
Just last year, Capt. Carey Smith of Surrey, B.C. was piloting a WestJet flight from Calgary to Victoria when one of her male passengers left a sexist note on a napkin.
The note said “the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman. A woman being a mother is the most honor, not as a ‘captain.'”
With the help of events like WOAW, more and more women are becoming interested in the industry.
Just last November, Ethiopian Airlines made history twice: first for having an all-female flight deck crew, and then when it sent an all-female flight crew on trips between its capital city, Addis Ababa and Bangkok, Thailand.
WOAW runs until Sunday. YVR’s control tower will be lit up in hot pink in support of the event.