IF YOU have flown on an airplane recently, you probably realized that the travel industry is changing. Flight delays, cancellations and similar frustrations have put a damper on passengers’ enthusiasm for air travel. 

And recent studies corroborate what many frequent fliers have noticed: We need more pilots. 

What if TWU was a part of the solution in addressing aviation industry challenges? 

Because TWU is a woman-focused university system, increasing female representation in the workforce is especially important. Is aviation the next industry where we could make an impact? 

While women constitute 47% of the total U.S. workforce, they represent only 20% of the aviation industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This gender gap is especially visible among pilots, where women comprise about 5% of the profession and less than 2% of senior management, as noted by the Pilot Institute. 

Why so few? For many women, as well as underrepresented populations, flight school can be daunting. 

Commercial pilots need at least 1,500 flight hours, in addition to other requirements. Many pilots take classes in mathematics, physics and meteorology as well as aviation history, law and business. 

Pilot preparation is expensive, and few universities combine flight school with four-year degrees. 

But TWU could change that. "I believe we have the unique capacity to move into areas where we see large gender gaps," said Chancellor Carine Feyten.


Some students are already addressing the challenges that plague the industry. In 2022, TWU’s Team Oneiroi — comprised of five senior kinesiology majors — was named Best Overall Team at the NASA-sponsored Texas Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge. Their winning entry? They created and submitted a wearable light-therapy device that helps astronauts regulate their sleep cycles. 

History is filled with prominent women figures in aviation. At TWU, the Woman’s Collection houses the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) archive. The WASP archive includes over 1 million wartime and postwar items and personal collections of hundreds of the WASP. 

That leads to a new question: As a community, what better way to honor the past, than to help lead the future? 

Tell us what you think
Send us a note at advancement@twu.edu