Published On: Wed, Jun 7th, 2023

At Lynn University, women soar high above the clouds

Amelia Earhart was not only the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic but also a founder and first president of The Ninety–Nines, an international organization for the advancement of female pilots. While Earhart was a pioneer in forging the way for women to fly, aviation remains a male-dominated field. Today, women account for only 8.4% of all pilots, according to FAA statistics analyzed by Women in Aviation International (WAI).

Lynn University is aiming to change this dynamic.

“We make a concerted effort to bring equity to the industry by intentionally recruiting women to our program,” said Burton D. Morgan College of Aeronautics Assistant Professor Jennifer Torres.

Among its recruitment and retention strategies, Torres cites small class sizes, accessible and engaged faculty, and a range of programs as factors in removing traditional barriers to access for women. For example, logging the required 1,500 flight hours for a license is notoriously expensive. Lynn qualifies graduates for the restricted Airline Transport Pilot (rATP), which allows pilots to fly as officers with only 1,250 flight hours.

The college also added new programs in recent years:

  • Professional pilot
  • Aviation operations
  • Aviation security

“I believe the additional majors help increase female enrollment; there are more choices for women who have an interest in the aviation industry,” said Torres.

Meaghan Dempsey, class of 2024, is one of the women studying to become a pilot through Lynn’s College of Aeronautics. She founded a WAI chapter at the university, which received its charter in December 2021 and won the 2023 Boeing’s Women in Aviation Flight Training scholarship.

As a young child, Dempsey was more excited about plane rides than the actual destination. After a discovery flight, she fell in love with flying. As she underwent private pilot training, she researched universities that could help advance her career, ultimately choosing Lynn.

“The entire program is designed to support and uplift women,” said Dempsey. “Faculty help connect us to scholarships and mentors while offering us the opportunity to serve as mentors to the next generation of flyers.”

In 2021, the college hosted a “Girl Scouts Take on Aeronautics” event, introducing a younger generation of women to aeronautics. During the program, faculty and aviation students explain flight training and opportunities to young Scouts.

Following in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart and other pioneering women in aviation, Dempsey tells young girls about her dreams of flying among the clouds: “Pilots know the only way to fly is by going against the wind. Never give up and keep using challenges put in your path to soar high above the rest.”

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