- In honor of the International Day of the Girl, three travel companies helping young women get ahead and pursue their dreams are highlighted.
- Captain Minnie, by Disney Cruise Line, aims to empower young kids, particularly young girls, and encourage them to consider a career in cruising. The line is also launching a new maritime-themed Nautical Youth Program in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab starring Captain Minnie Mouse.
- Delta airlines chartered its fifth annual all-female “Women Inspiring our Next Generation” (WING) flight, flying 120 young women ages 12-18 to Houston for an immersive experience at the Space Center.
- Delta Airlines has a variety of programs to attract female employees, including the Propel Pilot Career Path Program, investments in aircraft maintenance technician training programs, ACE and Solo Flight Academies and the Dream Flight.
- Booking.com is on a mission to change the narrative and help young women unlock their potential in technology through a series of Women in Tech initiatives.
- Tech Playmaker Awards from Booking.com recognizes and celebrates women who are transforming businesses, industries and communities through technology.
Laura Begley Bloom, for Forbes, writes about the three travel companies that are inspiring the next generation of leaders.
Disney Cruise Line
In the cruise industry, women are in the minority, making up just 18 to 20% of the workforce. And while some some lines are making strides by putting women in positions in power and hiring female captains, just 5.4% of officers are women across the industry.
Next generation leaders in the maritime industry
The first step happened in April, when Disney outfitted Minnie Mouse herself in a captain’s uniform. Captain Minnie is making the rounds on ships in an effort to empower young kids, particularly young girls, and encourage them to consider a career in cruising.
“We know how Disney characters have a unique ability to inspire and connect with children,” says Disney Cruise Line spokesperson Melanie Curtsinger. “Now at Disney Cruise Line, Captain Minnie Mouse will spread the message of exploring new horizons, both by land and by sea.”
Nautical Youth Program
The line is also launching a new maritime-themed Nautical Youth Program in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab starring Captain Minnie Mouse. This series of interactive, hands-on activities will allow future captains to practice their skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and problem-solving.
Onboard the ships, kids will also be able to shop for a new line of Captain Minnie-theme products with the tagline “You Can Call Me Captain.” And in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, little girls will no longer just be offered a fairytale princess makeover: Now they can become a full-fledged captain, too.
Alongside women officers and crew members, Captain Minnie is making local community visits to spend time with young girls in some of the line’s homeports and ports of call. The goal: to raise awareness about career choices for women aboard a cruise ship.
Besides the debut of Captain Minnie Mouse and the new youth programs, Disney Cruise Line will be funding scholarships at the LJM Maritime Academy in The Bahamas designed to encourage young female cadets to pursue careers in cruising and chart a course for success.
According to Delta Airlines, women account for only 5% of U.S. pilots and girls are vastly under-represented in STEM classes that might introduce them to a career in aviation. Delta Airlines wants to change that.
The airline recently chartered its fifth annual all-female “Women Inspiring our Next Generation” (WING) flight, flying 120 young women ages 12-18 to Houston for an immersive experience at the Space Center.
Everyone that came in contact with the flight was a woman, from the pilots to the crew to the gate agents, even the ramp team. In Houston, the girls got a firsthand look at careers in aviation, aerospace and engineering—areas typically dominated by men.
“At Delta, we believe that you have to ‘see it to be it,’” says Beth Poole, general manager of pilot development, who played a pivotal role in all five of Delta’s WING flights. “We know how significant it is for young girls to see women who look like them sitting in a flight deck or in a pilot’s uniform. It offers a real glimpse into what a career can look like for these young women.”
The WING Flight is just one way that Delta is working to engage young women. Delta is also fueling career interest among female middle and high school students through programs such as Propel, Solo Flight Academy and Aviation Career Education Academy.
As a woman in a senior position in aviation, Poole says it is important to prop up girls from an early age. “In 2017, Science published a report that by the early age of 6, girls begin to believe that they are not as smart as boys, which leads to the idea that they are less capable of pursuing certain interests, whether that be aviation, aerospace, or engineering,” says Poole.
School of different initiatives
Besides developing the future generation through targeted educational initiatives, the company has a variety of programs to attract female employees, including the Propel Pilot Career Path Program, investments in aircraft maintenance technician training programs, ACE and Solo Flight Academies and the Dream Flight.
In the past four years, 7.4% of Delta’s new hire pilots have been women compared to the average 5% of women pilots in the industry, and the company recently saw 41.5% female employees in Q2 of 2019, as well as year-over-year growth in diverse leaders since 2017, with female leaders increasing from 32% to 33.9% in Q2 of 2019.
“We recognize the barriers to joining this industry are real, whether economic or the historical pipelines that side-stepped underrepresented groups, like women and racial minorities. Our pipeline strategy is to grow, inspire and nurture our future talent and ensure we have an employee base that’s reflective of the world we serve,” says Poole.
According to a 2018 report by global consultancy McKinsey, in the U.S., women make up just 23% of high school students taking advanced placement computer science exams, 19% of computer and information science Bachelor’s degree recipients and 26% of the computing workforce.
“Technology is one of the key drivers of social change and economic growth today, and the strong under-representation of women studying STEM subjects and participating in the tech workforce threatens to deepen the current social divide and further accentuate gender stereotypes,” says Gillian Tans, chairwoman of Booking.com.
Women in Tech Code-a-thon
Booking.com is on a mission to change the narrative and help young women unlock their potential in technology through a series of Women in Tech initiatives, including Women in Tech Code-a-thon that had its inaugural in April.
The San Francisco-based Code-a-thon was aimed at girls ages 16-19 interested in studying technology and pursuing a career in the industry and included coding classes, mentorship, hands-on training and more.
Booking.com is also putting its power behind a range of new scholarships that provide female students with necessary funding to advance their education in STEM.
They’re being granted to undergrads at Spelman College and postgrads at Cornell University who are studying subjects including computer and information science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
Tech Playmaker Awards
Additionally, Booking.com just announced its third annual Tech Playmaker Awards, which recognizes and celebrates women who are transforming businesses, industries and communities through technology.
Internally, Booking.com has also made strides to support and encourage women at the early stages of their careers by ensuring that they receive skills development, training, mentorship and access to role models.
But Tans says that the most vital work begins at an early age. “I believe it is so important to encourage and empower more young women to pursue and advance their tech education and start a tech career,” says Tans.
“The more women we have engaging with STEM, the greater chance we will have to turn these stereotypes in tech around and make the industry a more welcoming place for people of all backgrounds to thrive.”
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