Our first reaction to the news that Jetstar had promoted the first female chief pilot in the history of Australia was a distinct, “what!? We don’t already have one?”
No, we didn’t. Not until now.
Captain Georgina Sutton, who will replace Captain Mark Rindfleish from February 2015, was already the highest-ever ranked female pilot in Australian aviation before being appointed to the Jetstar job.
Think about this.
How many times have you been on a plane, and heard the familiar deep voice of a man inform you that “this is your Captain speaking…”
Try – pretty much every time you’re on a plane.
But now, finally, Australia is levelling the gender playing field and giving women the opportunity to direct, control and be the face of our airlines.
Georgina will oversee the largest fleet of travellers, with around 900 pilots reporting to her.
On her appointment, Georgina said, “I think the women pilots within Qantas are very thrilled that I’ve been appointed to this role. I think it is also a very positive position for me to be in to act as a role model for them. It is something they can aspire to.”
Damn straight it is.
Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said Georgina had won the role in competition with a number of high-calibre candidates. Most of who had been men.
“Georgina has demonstrated strengths in leadership, technical expertise, operations and shares our strong focus on safety,” Mr Hall said.
At Australia’s major airlines, the percentage of female pilots ranges from 4.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent.
We can’t even comprehend how pitiful that amount is.
So although this is only one woman, and it’s only one airline, it’s a significant change for the one gender who seems to predominantly miss out on the successes enjoyed by men in the aviation industry.
So you can tell your daughters, and they can tell theirs, that if Georgina can do it…
They can too.
Already young girls from the USA to Afghanistan are putting on a helmet and declaring: “I want to be a pilot.”
Latifa Nabizada and her sister, Laliuma, are two such girls.
And now there is hope here in Australia. There is hope – and a role model.
CLICK THROUGH a gallery of more young girls who want to be pilots.