Unprecedented & Effective Global Outreach
Since 2010, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) promotes and supports participation in Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, its flagship award-winning outreach initiative specifically designed to address the industry’s striking and enduring occupational gender gaps.
Grounded in solid research and energized with popular friendly competitions and challenges, iWOAW’s educative and multi-pronged global initiative not only encourages women and girls – whatever their age – to discover the many facets of the air and space industry, hands-on, it also motivates industry stakeholders to celebrate their progress and open their doors to girls of all ages.
In 2010, thousands of women and girls in 36 countries lined up to take advantage of the original offer – to go on a free Fly It Forwardflight. Their unbridled enthusiasm created a near-instantaneous industry mindset shift.
The founder of the breakthrough initiative, Mireille Goyer, received AOPA‘s Let’s Go Flying award in 2011 as well as the COPA‘s President Award and The Ninety-Nines Award of Inspiration in 2012 in acknowledgment.
Since then, the movement has grown exponentially. Its positive impact already registers on industry statistics.
Historically and socially relevant timing
Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week takes place annually during the week of March 8, anniversary date of the world’s first female pilot license since 1910 and International Women’s Day since 1914.
The Week’s Fly It Forwardaction call encourages individuals and organizations to celebrate women’s history and advancements by opening the industry’s doors to the next generation of women and raising awareness.
An annual theme based on a female historical industry breakthrough highlights women’s past and present contributions to a specific sector of the industry.
Global, barrier-free and industry-wide
United across borders by their sense of fairness, individuals and organizations rally during the Week to give women and girls an equal opportunity to fall in love with aviation and make connections with local role models in a manner fitting their local social customs and available resources. They echo each others’ voices to raise awareness and send a positive message.
The popular movement takes its roots in the “act locally to create global change” philosophy. It is opened to anyone who wants to help foster gender balance in the industry regardless of geographical location, affiliations, and beliefs.
Unlike most industry outreach efforts, the Week is not age or membership restricted.
The majority of event organizers offer free access and even free Fly It Forward® flights to remove participation barriers.
Thanks to its corporate sponsors, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) maintains a multi-lingual (English, French, Spanish, Turkish) website to provide free information, support, and rewards (prizes, awards, scholarships) to all participants – organizing and attending.
Every year, the most productive and the effective communities, organizations, and individuals receive coveted Fly It Forward® awards. such as Most Female Friendly Airport Worldwide, Most Female Friendly Corporation Worldwide, Most Supportive Male Pilot Worldwide, and Most Acclaimed Organizer Worldwide. The friendly competition is a key motivation for local events hosting several thousand attendees.
Effectiveness grounded in research
The ultimate goal of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week is to change the face of aviation – globally.
Lack of awareness is the number one access barrier for girls and women.
The air and space industry has been male-dominated since its inception. To make matters worse, women have been actively kept at bay with discriminatory training and hiring practices during most of the last century and even rejected after contributing during World War II. As a result, the industry has a deeply rooted misogynist image that leads qualified female candidates to not even look aviation’s way.
The Week’s is a united image-shifting action that changes perceptions among the female population at large. At a historically and socially relevant time of the year, women and girls can visit industry facilities in the safety of their own community and with their trusted female support system to explore opportunities – worry-free.
If they don’t believe they can do it, they won’t try.
The obvious prevalence of men in the industry leads most women and girls to believe that male-dominated careers require smarts and skills that most women may not possess. As a result, women tend to dismiss highly-publicized and exceptional female role models and choose to contribute to careers and industries that appear more fitted for their gender.
The Week’s makes it possible for local industry facilities to attract women and girls and encourage them to explore the various environments and try the various skills, hands-on, in addition to meeting local female models. The Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) produces informative videos and publications and relays industry material to provide them with further resources.
Not all STEM-dependent industries lack gender balance.
In 2016, more than 40% of all STEM bachelor degrees were awarded to women. The STEM-related imbalance is industry specific. The air and space industry is trailing behind most other industries when it comes to women representation in industry STEM careers – less than 8% of aerospace engineers are women.
The Week’s is industry-specific and timed around a historically-relevant industry breakthrough – the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license. Because flight is the end-product of all aviation and space careers, it is central to the Week’s activities. Beginning with a symbolic commemorative Pink Paper Plane launch to Fly It Forward flights to the opportunity to explore all sorts of aircraft and fly flight simulators, the promotion of “flight” is a key to the Week’s amazing track-record at sparking new aviation vocations – whatever they may be.
Unity yields credibility.
Marketing research show that women tend to react negatively to “advertising” as such. Outreach messages or formats that come across as “sales pitch” lack effectiveness, especially when they come through in a disjointed flow revealing division in an industry already perceived as hostile to women.
The Week’s gives the industry’s the opportunity to present a united and welcoming message that increase its credibility. By coordinating and relaying individual actions across the world, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) ensures that individual actions do echo each others with sincerity and authenticity – at the global scale.