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    Women’s History Month: Closing the 1A (pilot) gender gap

    Women of the Wolf Pack: 1A Pilot

    Photo By Senior Airman Karla Parra | 2nd Lt. Brynn Lunaas, 80th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, reviews...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Kaylin Hankerson 

    8th Fighter Wing

    Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand -- Each year, the Department of the Air Force recognizes March as Women’s History Month to honor women, past and present, who have contributed to the service’s success. The 8th Fighter Wing is following suit, spotlighting women of various Air Force Specialty Codes throughout the month to showcase how female Airmen are essential members of the Wolf Pack and its Fight Tonight mission.

    The latest Air Force Personnel Data Center data shows that 21.4 percent of active duty members are women. Although content featuring some of the 326 thousand female Airmen is deliberately prioritized during March, according to leaders like Col. Matthew Gaetke, 8th Fighter Wing commander, showcasing the diversity of our force is a priority year-round.

    “The diversity of our force, in ethnicity, culture, religion, and gender, gives us an edge that sets us apart from other militaries,” said Gaetke. “Recruiting and retaining Airmen from all backgrounds, each of whom brings unique perspectives and experiences, and then breaking down barriers to their service and contribution by making sure their voice is heard is essential to the innovation we need. That certainly includes the voices of women. While we’ve made progress over the years, we still have a lot of work to do breaking down barriers!”

    While official barriers have been removed for women to serve, some duties still have a gender ratio gap. The 1A Air Force specialty code, pilots, is one career field that is still struggling.

    Today, of the 21.4 percent female Airmen recorded in 2023, only 8 percent are pilots, and the number almost cuts in half when specified down to fighter aircraft like the F-16 Fighting Falcon that the 8th Fighter Wing employs.

    “The numbers have stayed at about three to four percent since they opened up fighters to women back in the 80s,” said Capt. Sarah Gregory, 35th Fighter Squadron fighter pilot. “The goal is to increase that number, get more ladies in aircraft, and be a part of our awesome, ‘chick fighter pilot’ community.”

    Despite only being one of two women in the squadron, Gregory says she's received a regular fighter pilot experience,

    “I don't really notice that I'm different or one of only a handful, and that is a testament to all the guys. It's not until another woman shows up to the squadron or I'm out at an event, and young girls come up to me that I'm reminded…”

    Observances like Women’s History Month have given female Airmen across the force larger platforms for their messages and created spokeswomen out of women who work in male-dominated career fields so girls and young women can hopefully emulate them in the future. Proud to represent the community, Gregory has a slightly different message to the next generation that she wants to push this year,

    “You don't have to have a female role model to do it! There doesn't have to be a woman who came before you or who did it first in order for you to do it. Set your goals, find people to help you—whether they look like you or not doesn't matter… keep driving towards your goal.”



    Date Taken: 03.20.2024
    Date Posted: 03.20.2024 01:06
    Story ID: 466608
    Location: TH

    Web Views: 180
    Downloads: 0