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High-flying event draws women to aviation

Girls Take Flight is returning to the Oshawa Airport April 21 with the aim of attracting young women to careers in the aviation and aerospace industries. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Page)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Despite tremendous strides made to achieve equality in today’s workplace, there are still many professions that remain male-dominated.

The aviation sector is one of these, and Lesley Page is committed to changing that.

Page is the organizer of Girls Take Flight, an annual event that aims to turn young women’s minds to the possibility of pursuing a career in aviation.

“Only six per cent of pilots are women. We want to spark interest in the fields of aviation and aerospace,” Page tells The Oshawa Express.

“There’s a perception that it’s just for men. When you see media, whether it be movies or television, usually the pilots are depicted as men, and flight attendants are women,” Page says. “If we keep depicting them that way, it won’t change.”

And while some jobs traditionally dominated by men have seen an influx of women, it hasn’t been the case in aviation.

“It isn’t improving. It’s been at that [six per cent] level for decades,” Page says.

The problem doesn’t exist just with pilots, as there are far less female air traffic controllers, aviation mechanics, and aerospace engineers as well.

With that said, through events such as Girls Take Flight, Page sees that trend reversing.

“I believe that it will shortly. There is a pilot shortage and the obvious way [to address that] is to target women.”

Girls Take Flight is returning for its fifth year on Sunday, April 21 at the Oshawa Airport.

The event is geared to girls and women ages eight to 25 and is presented by The First Canadian Ninety-Nines, an international female pilot organization, and Durham Flight Centre.

Girls and women can participate in a complimentary free flight. Registration for flights will open April 1 and Page expects spots to fill up very rapidly.

Page says guardians such as mothers or aunts are welcomed to fly with younger girls.

The event also will feature presentations from women in the field, displays on careers in aviation/aerospace, and the opportunity to see aircraft up close and personal.

Interest in Girls Take Flight has increased every year, and Page says she expects 600 to 700 people to attend this year.

While the event is geared towards women, young men are welcomed to attend as well, she adds.

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