JBC targeting women for careers in aviation at ninth annual event

JBC targeting women for careers in aviation at ninth annual event
Female handler with the K-9 unit (Source: Live 5)
Female handler with the K-9 unit (Source: Live 5)
Student trying on a fire-proof suit (Source: Live 5)
Student trying on a fire-proof suit (Source: Live 5)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - There are more than 670,000 aviation jobs in the United States, not including being a pilot. Only 25% are held by women.

Joint Base Charleston wants to change that, and they're targeting young women from a dozen local schools.

Tuesday the base held its ninth annual Women in Aviation Career Day.

"It's amazing," said Berkeley High School Freshman Anna Maria Summer. "It's really awesome that I was able to do this."

More than 120 middle school and high school girls from around the Tri-County got a hands on experience trying on fire-proof suits, drawing blood, and exploring the inside of a C-17. All skills they would use in a career in aviation.

"I think there are just so many careers that are available to women that they find out about," said Air Force Reserves Colonel Caroline Evernham. "I think it's exciting for them."

"After everything we've been trying to do as women to break through the glass ceiling of the dominance of males, I think that today was really what showed me that I can be a pilot, I can be a plane technician," said Cane Bay High School Freshman Ogugua Nwaezeigwe. "I can get all of these degrees, I can really be in this field."

There are nearly 600,000 active pilots in the United States who fly for the armed forces, commercially and privately. Of that number, fewer than seven-percent are women who sit in the cockpit.

"Women in the military, women in aviation, are still kind of a smaller portion of the population, but there are more and more every year," said retired Air Force Reserves Colonel Debi Rieflin. "Events like this is our way of reaching out to young women."

Colonel Rieflin was the first woman to fly a C-17.

"It's amazing how far we've come, they've come from a long time ago when there was like no women," Summer said.

"Any girl out there that wants to do aviation, but thinks of the stereotype that only men can do it, they should not fall for it," Nwaezeigwe said. "They should follow their dreams, work hard and believe with all of their heart that they can make it."

Three students also received scholarships. The students had to write an essay focusing on the impact women have made in the aviation field. Scholarships were as high as 250-dollars. The money can be used to help get them started on their own careers in aviation.

Nwaezeigwe took the first place scholarship with her essay about Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command a U.S. spacecraft.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.