Women in Aviation: The Facts
Women have been involved in aviation since its earliest days. From E. Lillian Todd, who designed and built aircraft in 1906 to Helen Richey, who became the first woman pilot for a U.S. commercial airline in 1934, woman have assumed a variety of roles in the industry. At the close of the 20th century, Astronaut Eileen Collins became the first female Space Shuttle Commander.
During the last two decades, the number of women involved in the aviation industry has steadily increased and women can be found in nearly every aviation occupation today. However, the numbers are small by comparison. Women pilots, for example, represent only six percent of the total pilot population.
At the first Annual International Women in Aviation Conference in 1990, participants recognized the need for more women in the industry and for a support group to serve as mentors, advisors and interested colleagues. Following a number of successful conferences, Women in Aviation, International (WAI) was established as a professional, non-profit organization in 1994 to address those needs.
Today, WAI has more than 11,000 members worldwide, including aviation professionals, students and enthusiasts. Women and men from all segments of the industry, including general, corporate and commercial aviation, education, government and the military, are eligible for WAI membership.
Due to a strong commitment in promoting women in the aviation industry, WAI has gained wide recognition. This recognition is evident from partnerships with NASA, the FAA and other organizations.
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