Budget airline easyJet has joined forces with Girlguiding to engage more girls in aviation. The partnership is the first to be announced as part of Girlguiding’s biggest ever overhaul of badges and activities, which will be revealed in full this summer. As part of this new programme, easyJet is sponsoring a new Aviation badge for Brownies.
Over 200,000 girls aged seven to ten will have the opportunity to complete the badge, with the aim of engaging them with industries such as aviation early, building a foundation for future study and raising awareness of the opportunities to be a pilot as a future career. It is estimated that tens of thousands of girls will undertake this badge in its first year.
To earn the badge, girls will challenge themselves to think of 40 things that fly and put their engineering skills to the test, creating their own aircraft experiments with different building materials, structures and launch techniques.
Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey found:
- Becoming a pilot was named as being a dream job amongst 7-10 year old girls
- 15% of 7-10 year old girls believe STEM subjects have the image of being more for boys, compared to over half (52%) of 11-21 year old girls
- 76% of 7-10 year old girls feel encouraged when they see a woman doing a job they want to do
- 42% (7-10) and 63% (11-21) girls would like to be a leader in their chosen job
Further, a recent easyJet survey with over 500 pilots found:
- Visible role models who featured in childhood, like family members or pilots they met when travelling on holiday, were vital to inspiring young people to consider the career.
- Both male and female pilots surveyed agreed that the most effective outreach efforts would be to work with school teachers and youth and community leaders to spread awareness of the career.
- The partnership with Girlguiding will extend easyJet’s outreach work as part of its Amy Johnson Flying Initiative to a community of nearly half a million girls and young women, with the intention of matching local Girlguiding units with pilot speakers. Since launching the Initiative in 2015, easyJet pilots including many female pilots, have visited over 140 schools and colleges to raise the profile of the career.
Shifting the balance
Captain Kate McWilliams, easyJet pilot, commented: “I joined the air cadets when I was 13 where I got plenty of flying experience. However it was a lot later when I imagined a career in commercial aviation as I didn’t know any commercial pilots who I could ask for advice. I never even thought it could be an option available to me.
“Having been a Brownie myself I am delighted that this new aviation badge will engage girls in the career from an early age. I love being a commercial pilot for easyJet, it’s a fantastic career and anyone with an interest should consider it.”
Jess Bond, lead volunteer for Girlguiding’s Programme Renewal commented: “We are incredibly excited to be working with easyJet to empower the next generation of girls and young women to start a career in aviation.
“We know from our research that younger girls aspire to all types of careers, including becoming a pilot. However in reality only about 4% of pilots are women.
“Our partnership will help to tackle the gender stereotypes girls often face as they get older, providing them with relevant skills and building confidence ready for the future to make dream careers become a reality.”
Brownie, Emma, 9 said: “I’m so excited for the new Aviation badge and to learn more about flying and being a pilot. It’s really great that we get to find out about exciting jobs we could do in the future.”