History and Background of The International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA)
The International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) began in 1988 when a group of professional women, all working in the aviation industry met socially. When the conversation turned to industry issues, they recognized that in a largely male business, the dynamics and perspective of women professionals on these topics were useful to them, and also unique. The group also discussed that there were more women holding senior positions in aviation than appearances would suggest, and since many of these senior executive women were known to them, they drafted a prospective list.
This core list of executives was contacted and invited to help form the International Aviation Womens Association for the purpose of advancing women in businesses related to aviation. The original group represented the aviation litigation, defense, manufacturing and insurance fields. Today, members also serve in airport operations, airline and aerospace management, senior government roles, consulting, engineering, finance and regulatory positions – reflect the breadth of accomplishment of women in aviation and aerospace since IAWA’s birth.
The founding membership of IAWA met at its first conference in Chicago in November of 1989 to adopt By-Laws and form a Board of Directors, with the objective of advancing women in aviation through networking and education. The IAWA annual conferences, held in major cities around the world, have become a prestigious forum for sharing views on important matters to the industry and, in general, to women.
In the almost 20 years since its founding, IAWA’s history, as reflected in its conference topics, has mirrored the history of the industry itself. These have ranged from “The European Union and its Effect on the Aviation Industry”, “Alternatives to CRS Distribution: Ticketless Travel”, “Developments in the Asia/Pacific Region”, “Aviation Finance: Ways and Means for an Evolving Market,” “International Impacts Since 911”, to “Stress Management for Women in Aviation, ” and many others.
IAWA also hosts regional receptions in conjunction with other aviation conferences so that its members may maintain contact between conferences. The organization also maintains on its website a current directory of its members, a ‘Who’s Who’ of prominent women in aviation, that is available only to the membership.
The list of speakers who have addressed IAWA conferences is also impressive. Among them are The Honorable Marion Blakey, former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; The Honorable Carol Jones Carmody, former Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board; Carol B. Hallett, President and CEO of the Air Transport Association; U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum; and NASA Astronaut Marsha Ivins. International speakers have included Berrak Asci, chief Legal Counsel, Turkish Airlines, Istanbul; Jaqueline Foster, Member, European Parliament, Brussels; and Sandra Mooney, M.D., Medical Director, British Airways, London.
What is particularly impressive is the dedication of IAWA’s volunteer Board of Directors and committee members who, in spite of demanding careers and lives, take the time to assure the high quality of the organization’s programs and membership. The current leadership is involved in launching a new world-class website to disseminate information concerning the aviation industry, developing IAWA programs and projects, and improving communication with and among its members. This project is in keeping with IAWA’s objectives of continuing dynamic growth of the Association to serving the current and emerging women leaders in global aviation.