Opinion: Cape Cod’s sky-high number of women working in aviation something to celebrate

Female Aero Engineer Working On Helicopter In Hanga

March 8, 2022

Opinion: Cape Cod’s sky-high number of women working in aviation something to celebrate

March 8, 2022 – This week, the world will observe International Woman’s Day and the start of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW). WOAW, for those who are unfamiliar, is a global aviation awareness week for girls of all ages that marks the anniversary date (March 10, 1910) of the world’s first female pilot license earned by pilot Raymonde de Laroche. I suspect there was little fanfare; however, her achievement marked the formal entry of women in the air and space industry. Subsequently — and unfortunately — this industry would actively exclude women until the mid-1960s, with the exception of the war effort.

Repercussions of this are still felt: While most previously male-dominated industries now have 15% to 25% female participation, the air and space industry does not. The global percentage of female commercial pilots remains around 7% today. Approximately 2% of the world’s aircraft maintenance technicians and around 10% of all working aeronautical engineers are women. Girls are still three times less likely than boys to be introduced to the industry via hobbies and career opportunities.

Statistics on Cape Cod show a very different picture, however. Did you know that Cape Cod Gateway Airport has an exponentially higher number of women working in pivotal roles? This smashes the aforementioned national statistics. Just as I am proud of this, Cape Cod should be proud of this!

As one of the first female vice commissioners on the Airport Commission in Barnstable, I am surrounded by giants in our field. Every day, as I look around Cape Cod Gateway Airport, I see women making a difference.

I would like to take a moment to reflect on two of these women and their vast aeronautical achievements:

In 2018, Katie Servis became the first female airport manager at Cape Cod Gateway Airport since its inception in 1928 after spending the previous three years as its first female assistant airport manager. This occurred after a diverse aviation career with positions held at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation – Aeronautics Division, various airport planning positions with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. and Hoyle Tanner and Associates and various airport operations positions held at Hanscom Field and Boston’s Logan International Airport, Portland (International) Jetport in Maine and Paine Field in Washington. Katie is also the second female in her family to achieve her private pilot’s license; her aunt, on her father’s side, was the first.

Linda Markham is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Cape Air and leads over 700 employees across four regions worldwide. Linda joined Cape Air in 2002 as director of Human Resources. She was instrumental in developing a strategic plan and building a team to support the airline’s rapid expansion, focusing on operational excellence, growth, and sustainability. In 2004, Linda was named chief administrative officer and in 2013, Linda was promoted to president and named to the airline’s Board of Directors. In late 2021, Cape Air announced that Linda would serve as the airline’s CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2022. Linda is the only female CEO of a major or regional airline in the United States and is only one of two female airline presidents in the nation.

Many of us were reminded of young women and aviation recently when 19-year-old Zara Rutherford touched down her microlight Shark UL plane at an airfield in western Belgium claiming the title of the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. Her journey spanned 41 countries and 155 days. That is an extraordinary feat for a young woman. This also poses a key question: Can we nurture someone with that same capability and talent on Cape Cod?

This September, we will be celebrating Girls in Aviation Day. This event has grown every year since its first gathering and Cape Cod Gateway Airport is proudly participating by offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to young aspiring female pilots. Please stay tuned to our social media and website accounts as details are unveiled. In the meantime, I ask you to please take a moment and recognize these terrific women and their achievements in aviation.