14 female Air Cadet graduates levelling out gender imbalance in the skies

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15 August 2019
By Connor O’Donovan, Digital Broadcast Journalist, Global News

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The Air Cadet League of Canada’s Power Pilot Scholarship program runs annually in locations across the country, but this year’s class flying out of the Regina International Airport is pretty unique.

All 14 recipients, who graduated this week at the Regina Flying Club, are young women.

“It’s something that probably a lot of us were worried about, but being here and seeing all these other like-minded, hardworking young women has been amazing,” said Allison Bennett, who calls the Regina Flying Club home.

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Though not all of the scholarship’s recipients aspire are planning to pursue a career as a pilot — some are looking towards engineering, while others aspire to become doctors or lawyers and simply enjoy flying — they could help level out an industry with a significant gender imbalance.

For example, both WestJet and Air Canada say women only make up around seven per cent of their pilot workforce. Those numbers actually exceed the global average, which is around five per cent, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.

Transport Canada says that while 12,625 men own Airline Transport Pilot Licences in Canada, just 719 women can say the same.

Transport Canada data shows significant gender imbalances in Canada\’s aviation industry.

Transport Canada data shows significant gender imbalances in Canada\’s aviation industry.Global News

Program instructor and Regina Flying Club General Manager Audrey Kahovec was a Power Pilot Scholarship recipient herself.

“I think it’s not a standard option that females think to look at,” Kahovec said.

“It’s good to be able to promote that, to be able to encourage other women to give it a try.”

Kahovec, whose class also had a large female contingent, says that empowerment only adds to the barriers the scholarship helps aspiring pilots overcome.

“They are saving themselves just over $11,000,” she said. “So it’s a good scholarship to get!”

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Scholarship recipient Katherine Latosinsky, who plans to study aeronautical engineering, said it was inspiring to go through the program with peers.

“In the aviation world there are female role models to look up to, but not very many,” Latosinksy said. “So it’s really is nice to see a lot of other female cadets all trying to pursue the same thing and not being held back by anything.”

Pallawi Paudel, who aspires to go on to become a fighter pilot, is motivated she might some day become a role model herself.

“There’s little girls that might look up to us one day and say ‘I want to do that as well.’”

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