There are those who talk about the problems in the world, and then there are those who do something about them.
Airbus employees Krystie Dunn and Jane Shelton have decided to do their part in overcoming the problem represented by the relatively small number of women working in the aviation maintenance industry. Together with their colleagues, they’ve helped to create a new chapter of the Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance, with precisely that mission in mind.
And, although the new Gulf Coast Chapter 22 of AWAM has only held a few meetings, they are already making progress toward the day when more young women will be exposed to the many different careers available in the aviation industry. They are reaching out to the community’s females and sharing with them how to prepare for and pursue a career in aviation maintenance. Ms. Shelton explains how it all came about.
“I was on the Board of Directors of the national AWAM for eight years or so. When I came to work for Airbus in Mobile, I wanted to get a local chapter started, but I wasn’t able to pick up very much steam. Then I met with Krystie, and things began to fall into place,” Ms. Shelton said.
In its relatively short existence, the new AWAM Chapter has been partnering with the National Flight Academy located in Pensacola, Florida. AWAM members collaborated with the Flight Academy staff to include maintenance issues within their programs. In September, the girls who attended the first regional Annual “Girls in Aviation Day” held at the Academy, were presented A321 parts from the local Airbus Educational Program and were encouraged to take STEM classes and pursue aviation careers.
The chapter has also welcomed students at Enterprise State Community College’s Alabama Aviation Center at Mobile and Ben C. Rain High School’s Signature Aviation Academy, providing guidance and insight into how best to embark on an aviation maintenance career.
“We want to guide girls in knowing what steps to take to become a part of the aviation industry, and what will help them to advance,” Ms. Dunn said. Part of that advice and guidance includes looking to companies that sponsor AWAM as good prospects for employment.
“We tell people that if you want to be supported as a female in a male-oriented world, choose a company, like Airbus,” Ms. Shelton said. “Airbus is a huge supporter of diversity, and because the company supports females in the industry, it is a leading sponsor of the Gulf Coast chapter. That’s something we can promote,” she said.
Ms. Dunn and Ms. Shelton say their organization will not rest until the next generation of aviation maintenance workers has a greater representation of women within the ranks.
The newest chapter of AWAM will introduce itself at the organization’s national convention, in Orlando on March 2-5.
AWAM Chapter 22 meets the second Thursday of each month at 5:30pm at the Enterprise State Community College Library, at Brookley Aeroplex. For more information about AWAM or the new Gulf Coast Chapter 22, visit awam.org. Or, call Krystie Dunn at 251-439-4949.
And stay tuned for upcoming announcements about scholarship opportunities AWAM is planning.