Delta’s program is intended to help close the gender gap in aviation
Delta had reason to celebrate after another successful International Girls in Aviation Day success. This is the fifth time their WING (Women Inspiring our Next Generation) flight took off carrying 120 girls and an all-female crew to show the younger generation that a career in aviation is possible.
The flight took girls ages 12-18 from Salt Lake City to NASA in Houston with the goal, according to Delta’s website, of “closing the gender gap in aviation.” WING Flight 2019 was, from nose to tail, “planned and orchestrated exclusively by women – including the pilots flying the plane, ramp agents working on the ground, gate agents boarding the flight, and women in the tower guiding the aircraft on its way out.”
Delta’s WING Flight originated in 2015 as an “effort to diversify a male-dominated industry and expose girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers at a young age.” To date over 600 girls have taken advantage of the program, learning about the different career paths these women have taken and showing them it’s possible.
“We know representation matters. At Delta, we believe you have to see it to be it,” said Beth Poole, General Manager – Pilot Development, who helped start Delta’s WING Flight said. “We’re taking ownership to improve gender diversity by exposing girls at a young age and providing a pipeline so that 10 years from now, they will be the pilots in the Delta cockpit inspiring generations of women who follow.”
Once the girls landed in Houston, they were able to tour some of NASA’s buildings and learn about flight and human space exploration. They also got to have lunch with Jeanette Epps, NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer. “It didn’t seem realistic to go after a career in aviation, but today I realized, ‘Hey, I can do this too,'” said Katelyn J., age 17, a 12th grader from Advanced Learning Center.
What’s more, the WING Flight was the first flight many of these girls have taken so to have that experience on top of learning all about the field of aviation is incredible. To select the students, the airline worked with schools that have STEM or aviation programs in order to “provide clear paths for interested future female aviators.”
Delta has been working towards gender equality in their organization for years. In 2019, the company achieved 100 percent pay parity for employees in frontline jobs and was awarded a “Best Workplace for Women” by both Great Place To Work and Fortune — the third year in a row for the airline. Delta’s future hiring strategy focuses on investing in girls like the ones in their WING program, hoping they will become the future of the organization and “addressing underrepresentation by growing and inspiring talent, nurturing the individuals and removing economic, racial and gender barriers.”