DENVER - United pilots hosted an event to celebrate girls in aviation, hoping to inspire young girls to consider a career in the field.
According to statistics collected by Women in Aviation, only 6.7 percent of pilots in the U.S. are women. Captain Jolanda Witvliet said it's a frustrating statistic.
"It hasn’t improved over the last 20 years, it’s been pretty stagnant," said Witvliet.
Witvliet worries girls aren't encouraged to pursue careers in math and science, a trend she's noticed while giving presentations to girls about aviation.
"It’s interesting when you do these presentations, very early on already in middle school girls have already made up their minds that they are not smart enough or they don’t think they can do it or they haven’t been exposed to it," said Witvliet.
At United Airlines' Encourages Dreams to Soar event, girls got to tour airplanes as female pilots explained different elements of them. Pilots taught the girls how to look at charts pilots use for navigation and then the girls assembled model airplanes.
"These kinds of programs are great for us to be able to expose girls who are of that age early in on, they can be anything they want to be. They can be pilots, they can be controllers," said Witvliet. "They can do anything."
Emily Knowles, 11, said she enjoyed seeing so many female pilots in one room.
"You don’t really see that on a daily basis," said Knowles.
Maria and Kaitlin Trostmann flew in from Texas for the event.
"I think the biggest take away from today is we can be anything we want," said Maria Trostmann. "Seeing all these women out here, it was a big inspiration to see now a days we have come so far, and as females we can do anything."
"It was really cool," said Kaitlin Trostmann.
For those with daughters interested in aviation, Witvliet offered suggestions for way to get them involved:
- Women Aviation International
- Young Eagles Program: Offers kids can take a free flight in an airplane
- Cleared to Dream