Building Equity for Aerospace Training: Inspirational Stories and Strategies to Engage Girls

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Aerospace companies have struggled to meet existing needs for skilled technical workers and this gap between industry needs and qualified candidates is expected to grow. The number of technicians needed to do aircraft inspections, preventive and routine maintenance, and repairs greatly exceeds the number of students who choose an education in avionics. Young women in high school continue to be less likely than young men to choose to enter or to stay in career and technical education classes tied to these careers. Across all aspects of aviation, women currently make up only a fraction of the workforce – between 2% in mechanic roles and just over 16% in air traffic control.  

In this webinar recording, hear powerful stories from women in aviation sharing their journeys. Strategies and resources to encourage girls to consider aerospace careers are also presented.

The Building Equity for Aerospace Training: Inspirational Stories and Strategies to Engage Girls webinar was hosted by NGCP on March 26, 2024.

Jema Hayesa, a woman with long blonde hair wearing white and black shirt

Jema Hayes

Program Manager for Pre-Professional Programs, The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA 

Jema joined The Museum of Flight in 2014 as an Intern and has held a multitude of positions ranging from administrative work to teaching both locally and internationally. She is currently the Manager of Pre-professional Programs at the Museum, where she guides and supports students in getting a jump-start on their post-high school futures. Jema’s work includes management of the Museum’s scholarship portfolio as well as the Museum’s Career and Technology Education (CTE) dual credit programs. Jema grew up in North Carolina and received a Bachelor's of the Arts in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Moving to Seattle, she received a Master's in Museology with a specialization in Evaluation from the University of Washington. She enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her husband, toddler, and geriatric cat. 

April Lanotte, woman with mid-length brown hair and glasses

April Lanotte

STEM Integration Lead, NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

April Lanotte has been an educator at the formal, informal, and federal agency level for over twenty-five years. Currently the STEM Integration Lead for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, April works to bring STEM education and NASA’s aeronautics work together. She supports aviation and STEM workforce development initiatives, including Career and Technical Education development and searches for ways to broaden student participation in STEM with a focus on those who may be traditionally overlooked in STEM or may not see themselves in STEM and Aeronautics. Her current doctoral work at Oklahoma State University is focused on increasing the diversity in aeronautics education and the aviation workforce. 

Born and raised in the rural town of Mars, PA (yes, really!), April works on making aerospace science more accessible to all educators and students and champions DEIA efforts, particularly in aerospace. Currently, she holds graduate degrees in both English (science writing emphasis) and Space Education and is constantly working on cross-curricular ties to STEM content. She authored a STEM Literacy chapter in Best Practices in STEM Education: Innovative Approaches from Einstein Fellow Alumni. Other published aeronautics projects include small unmanned aerial vehicle lessons and activities, an activity guide that focuses on Earth’s atmosphere and human survival at high altitudes, the development of AOPA’s high school aviation curriculum, and lessons that support ShareSpace Foundation’s Giant Moon Map. She has also contributed science content to Challenger Center for Space Science, the LEGO Space Challenge Activity Pack, and Disney’s Youth Experiences in Science. As a 2021 “Women to Watch” award recipient from Women and Drones, April works tirelessly to bridge the gap between education audiences, organizations, and industry.  

Nikki Malcom, woman with long blonde hair, smiling and wearing black shirt

Nikki Malcom

CEO & Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance 

Nikki Malcom serves as the CEO & Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a non-profit trade association dedicated to supporting the growth and global competitiveness of the PNW aerospace cluster. With a 24-year career in aerospace in roles in supply chain, business development, and leadership, Nikki has made contributions toward advancing materials, manufacturing, and testing within the aerospace industry. Nikki's unwavering passion lies in inspiring the next generation to pursue aerospace careers and in fostering the advancement of the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem. She draws her inspiration from the industry's remarkable ingenuity, sense of community, and constant innovation.

Annie Stikeleather, woman with long red-brown hair and wearing a pink blazer

Annie Stikeleather

Manager of Youth Programs, Women in Aviation International

Annie Stikeleather is the manager of youth programs for Women in Aviation International. She is focused on increasing youth awareness of aviation. She implemented and is responsible for the educational and experience-based Aviation for Girls App. She expanded Women in Aviation International’s Youth programs to build community and learning experiences for a growing group of over 5,500 Junior members. The programs include Aviation for Girls Connect News, a bi-monthly global newscast and AFG Engage E-Learning, a bi-monthly Webinar series focused on careers and STEAM activities in aviation and aerospace.  

In addition, Annie manages Girls in Aviation Day, an international event to inspire young minds to engage with aviation and aerospace. Annie has over 10 years of teaching experience and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a second-generation private pilot and UAS remote pilot. Her experience in education and aviation fuels her passion for developing youth aviation curricula, resources, and experiences to inspire future generations of aviation and aerospace leaders.

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