Program inspires young women to seek aviation career

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- It’s all about girls at Austin Straubel International Airport, where a set of middle schoolers have the chance to learn about careers in aviation.

“Listening to the sounds, peaking inside the hangers, flying in the simulators – it’s so much more exciting to kids if they can go to the location,” says Linda Goudy, the director of Junior Achievement Brown County.

The “Girls in Air” program works to inspire young women about a field in the aviation industry with some hands-on experience.

“Getting them interested at this stage is definitely important, because they can start structuring their lives, taking the correct course work,” says Allison Jahnke, a pilot. “Start flying discovery flights, getting their hands on the controls, seeing if it's something they enjoy.”

“Girls in Air” brings together 25 students from Washington and Franklin Middle Schools, hoping to promote careers for women in the field.

Students heard presentations from pilots, public safety officers, air traffic controllers and customer service representatives, who already hold steady careers in the field.

After that, they were able to tour flight classrooms and planes, and experience a flight simulation.

“Getting the girls excited at this stage in their life and involved is just a great opportunity for them,” Jahnke says. “And something they can hopefully grow into and make a career out of.”

“There is a critical shortage of women in aviation, and a critical shortage of women in STEM fields, and STEM is science, technology, engineering and math,” Goudy says.

Experts say only six percent of pilots are women. It’s stats like this that inspired “Girls in Air,” to show middle schoolers that any aviation career is possible.

“A lot of men, they do a lot of these jobs, and most girls, they don’t do this type of stuff,” says Ashaunte Williams, a 7th grader at Franklin Middle School. “It's pretty cool to see a girl out here doing all this stuff.”

Junior Achievement of Brown County is working to create other programs like “Girls in Air,” for Green Bay middle schoolers to get an inside look at different careers in the workforce.