With an estimated 3 percent of women represented in all of aviation and 3 percent of that involved in aviation maintenance, the need for the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) remains, according to President Lynette Ashland. Her organization was represented at the recent Women in Aviation International conference.
AWAM had a slate of programming at the convention, including a booth in the exhibit hall, recurrent training seminars, a members meeting and social and its annual technical awards breakfast. The organization was formed in 1997 to offer networking, mentorship, scholarships, and to prepare women for careers in aviation maintenance, said Ashland.
“If you have a love for aviation and flying isn’t the answer for you, maintenance is a good option,” said Ashland. “There are women who like to fix things and be more hands on, so we like to promote maintenance as a good aviation career option.”
Young women didn’t realize there were other female mechanics in the world before AWAM, said Ashland. “You join AWAM for the networking, the mentoring and the chance to meet others who have faced the hurdles you might be facing,” she said.
The work that AWAM does to recruit women into aviation maintenance careers starts early. “You have to start in elementary school, because by high school, it’s almost too late,” said Ashland. “We emphasize that girls can have a career like daddy does.”
There are other careers in aviation besides pilots, said Ashland. They include technical writers, line managers, engineers, and dispatchers, she said. Members can be anyone who is in support of women in aviation maintenance—even men, she added.
AWAM also offers scholarships that are cash or maintenance course-based, said Ashland.
AWAM awarded 22 scholarships, including seven from the airlines, in 2013. They ranged from tools to aircraft and engine manufacturer maintenance ratings. “We also give a scholarship to send someone to the WAI conference,” said Aslhand.