Opportunities for Women in Air Maintenance
A highly sexualized culture still exists in the air maintenance industry, both in the civilian and military worlds, noted Warrant Officer Anita Zacher, Air Maintenance Superintendent at 2 Canadian Air Division.
WO Zacher was a participant on a panel about women in the air maintenance industry at the Manitoba Maintainers of Aviation Conference at the Canad Inns Hotel. The panel was shared with two women from the civilian air maintenance industry. The session was attended by approximately 50 participants and was sponsored by Elevate Aviation—a non-profit organization designed to attract women and underrepresented groups into aviation.
Kendra Kincade, Honorary Colonel for 417 Squadron at CFB Cold Lake and an air traffic controller for NAV Canada in Edmonton, is the founder of Elevate Aviation. She explained that Elevate Aviation does multiple programs, and maintains a learning centre at the Edmonton International Airport where people come to take our courses.
“We had a lot of discussion on difficulties people are experiencing and how to make positive change in the industry,” WO Zacher said in an interview with The Voxair following the panel discussion.
WO Zacher, a 19-year veteran of the CAF, noted that she started out as an Avionics Technician. “I was working in the hospitality industry before joining the CAF, but it wasn’t for me,” she said. “We have made a lot of positive change in the RCAF, with regards to respect in the CAF and sexual misconduct changes. We’re identifying that we do have a culture that has to shift and there are active programs out there to improve things. We’ve made a lot of positive changes. There is still a lot of work to do, but, things are looking better.”
She also emphasized that the topic of diversity, inclusivity and equality is a topic “near and dear” to the hearts of many. “It’s important that people realize why we need culture change,” she said.
“There’s a lot buy-in from within the industry. This panel provided a platform to talk about some of the things that are still happening, and for industry to go back and make improvements.”
Meanwhile, HCol Kincade noted that her organization promotes women to come into all areas of aviation, as well as having a mentorship program in the military.
“I realized that aviation did so much for my life,” she added.
“So, I wanted to show other women that there was this amazing possibility in aviation for them.”
Photo: WO Zacher