Aviation minister Baroness Sugg wants girls to soar at Stansted Airport
Aviation minister Baroness Sugg used a visit to Stansted Airport’s pioneering college to highlight the gender gap in the aviation industry.
During Friday’s visit, she met the first students to attend the further education facility, which opened last September, and Year 3 girls from Thaxted Primary School as well as female apprentices and women on Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group’s graduate scheme.
easyJet pilot Sarah Smartt was on hand to talk to students about her career and to answer a wide range of questions. Women account for nearly half (47%) of the national workforce, but only 6% of airline pilots are female.
Baroness Sugg, 41, who served as head of operations at 10 Downing Street under David Cameron's premiership, said: “For every 100 airline pilots, 94 are male. With a shortage of pilots in the future, the aviation industry needs to be making the best use of the talent in this country."
International Women’s Day this year is being celebrated on Friday (March 8) with the theme of #BalanceforBetter, to drive gender balance across the world.
The minister launched the Women in Aviation charter, which commits to build a more balanced and fair industry for women – easyJet is on track to achieve its target of ensuring 20% of its new pilot entrants are female by 2020 while Flybe’s FlyShe campaign raises awareness of gender stereotypes.
Stansted Airport is a signatory to the charter and has a number of education programmes, including its Aerozone centre, to inspire girls.
Human resources director Liz Austin said: “Encouraging more girls into aviation-related careers is something London Stansted fully supports and we welcome the Government’s drive to increase the number of women in these roles.
“Stansted Airport College was created to build a pipeline of future talent and works hard to promote the many exciting opportunities open to girls in aviation, from engineering to cabin crew.
"Along with our Aerozone education centre for younger children, we’re proud of the part London Stansted is playing in inspiring the next generation of the aviation workforce and look forward to seeing an increase in the representation of women in all sectors.”
Karen Spencer, principal of Stansted Airport College, said: “With around only 8% of engineers and pilots being females, it’s really important to work with girls from an early age to inspire them to think about aviation and STEM [science, technology, egineering and maths]. All our young visitors left the building buzzing with questions and a desire to learn more.”