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American airline Delta flies school girls to NASA to encourage a gender-balanced aviation workforce

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In the spirit of International Girls in Aviation Day, American airline Delta flew 120 school girls from Salt Lake City to NASA in Houston on 6 October, as part of its WING programme.

The girls, aged between 12 and 18, came from the schools with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or aviation programme.

The flight was planned and orchestrated exclusively by women, including the pilots flying the plane, ramp agents working on the ground, gate agents boarding the flight, and the women in the tower guiding the aircraft on its way out.

After landing in Houston, they took a tour of NASA’s Mission Control Center, Building 9, the Johnson Space Center, and Space Center Houston and met mentors from other male-dominated aviation work groups such as technical operation teams, astronauts and aerospace engineering teams.

“We know representation matters. At Delta, we believe you have to see it to be it,” said Beth Poole, general manager of pilot development, who helped start Delta’s WING Flight in 2015 and has helped plan the programme ever since.

“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.”

Started in 2015, Delta’s WING Flight aims to diversify a male-dominated industry and expose girls to STEM careers at a young age.

Delta is on par with the aviation industry with about 5% of its pilots being women. In the past four years, 7.4% of its new hire pilots have been women.

In 2019, Delta achieved 100% pay parity for employees in front line jobs.

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