The bipartisan Promoting Women in Aviation Act was introduced in the US Senate on March 30, 2023. The legislation aims to establish the Women in Aviation Advisory Committee (WIAAC) to advise the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on matters related to women in the aviation industry. The WIAAC would be a permanent body in the FAA charged with fostering the objectives and recommendations made by the ad hoc Women in Aviation Advisory Board (the Board) in 2022.
The Board was established in 2018 as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act (Section 612(f)) with a mission to develop strategies to advance women in aviation, such as coordinating industry efforts to support women pursuing aviation careers, expanding existing scholarship opportunities for women, and enhancing aviation training, mentorship, education, and outreach programs for women. The Board was disbanded in 2022 following the release of its report Breaking Barriers for Women in Aviation: Flight Plan for The Future.
Under the new legislation, the WIAAC will engage with the report’s recommendations, which focused on five key areas: Culture, Recruitment, Retention, Advancement, and Data Collection. WIAAC members will be appointed by the Secretary of Transportation and drawn from a range of aviation related industries, including airlines, business associations, universities and trade schools, and labor unions. The legislation comes at a time when the industry is grappling with significant labor shortages and a desperate need to increase its pilot and aviation maintenance technician (AMT) ranks. Women are currently underrepresented in aviation, comprising less than 10 percent of licensed pilots and less than 3 percent of AMTs. Identifying and addressing the barriers that prevent women from entering and succeeding in aviation will benefit not just women, but the industry more broadly.
Brandi Williamson is the Transportation Co-Chair and Diversity Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section.