The US-based Professional Women Controllers (PWC) is celebrating 40 years of empowering women in air traffic control at its upcoming annual conference in Washington.
Shelley-Marie Gilhespy, a Prospect member and air traffic controller, is being sponsored by her employer, National Air Traffic Services, as well as her local union branch, the Air Traffic Control Officers’ branch, to attend the conference.
Here’s what Shelley-Marie has to say about the event:
“PWC encourages women to develop careers in air traffic control. It will be marking its 40th anniversary at its annual conference in Washington in April 2018 and I’m delighted to have been asked to attend. I’ll be one of about 200 people attending from across the US and the world and I’m looking forward to experiencing something different and meeting new people.
“I’m also looking forward to finding out how PWC’s diversity initiatives are working and how hey are helping women progress in the industry, plus any lessons they’ve learned that we can bring back to apply in our business.
“I’ve had many opportunities to grow and build my skill set. While air traffic control is a male-dominated industry, I don’t feel like I’ve ever been held back from anything because of my gender. I receive as much support as anyone else, male or female.
“However, there is always room for improvement and I do believe that introducing flexible working would be helpful for parents. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduating from university, but a friend of mine, who is an assistant in the tower at Heathrow, suggested that I apply for NATS, so that’s what I did.
“I joined the company in 2002 and have been here ever since. It’s hard to pick my favourite achievement, but becoming a fully validated air traffic controller is definitely up there.
“Helping other people to achieve success is also very rewarding, I find, and I’ve been able to do more of that since I qualified as a controller.”