OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — For the 13th year in a row, female aviators and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world are gathering together for this year's WomenVenture.
Margaret Viola, chairperson for WomenVenture, is a private pilot and aerospace engineer.
“Women are traditionally very underrepresented in the pilot community and in our community supporting aviation in terms of mechanics, air traffic control, the whole gambit," she said.
WomenVenture provides mentorship for young aspiring aviators.
“When you’re in your youth, you’re able to capture with this free imagination the magic in the sense of adventure and pure kind of thrill seeking joy," said Viola. "And it’s those emotions of what’s possible that then later in life carry you through math textbooks, science labs and hard problems and you might encounter along the way.“
Each year, WomenVenture makes a T-shirt women can wear. Activities this week include a women’s power lunch, panels and guest speakers: one of them is Jamie Driskill, Senior Manager of Business Development for Distribution and Data Analytics at Boeing.
“I try not to think about my gender on a day-to-day basis," she said. "But when I pause and really consider, it means to me that we are progressing, we are making a difference in the world and in our community and our families. As a mother of two daughters, it’s very important to be a role model for them.“
Only around 24 percent of the industry jobs are filled by women, said Driskill.
"That’s a long way from where we were 100 years ago," she said. "And I expect that we’re going to make huge strides over the next few years.“
For some aviators, like Allison Pemberton, flying is in the blood.
“Both my mom and my dad and my grandpa and grandpa and my auntie and uncle," she said.
The nine-year-old already knows she wants to fly high.
“I want to be a pilot of a piper cub," said Pemberton.
The soon-to-be fourth-generation pilot says girls shouldn’t be afraid to spread their wings.
“They just have to be," she said. "And it’s fine. It doesn’t matter at all who you are.“
With so many reasons to love being in the air, WomenVenture continues to inspire female aviators globally.
“I love the sense of freedom that comes with it," said Viola. "I love the sense of mastery of being in the moment, being able to problem solve confidently knowing that I can do it.”
“It’s a combination of science with art, with passion," said Driskill. "How do you not love it?"