A NEW aviation badge for Brownies has been unveiled as part of a campaign to encourage more girls to become pilots.
To earn the award, Brownies will have to carry out aeronautical experiments using different materials and launch techniques, as well as name 40 things that fly.
Tens of thousands of Brownies – girls aged seven to 10 – are expected to take part in the activities in the first year of the new badge.
It has been introduced in partnership with easyJet, which wants 20% of its new entrant pilots to be female by 2020.
Women make up around 3% of commercial airline pilots worldwide.
EasyJet captain Marnie Munns, the lead pilot for the airline’s Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, said: “We have always believed in the importance of female role models to encourage girls to see a pilot career as a real option available to them, which is why we are really excited to be unveiling the new aviation badge for Brownies as part of our partnership with Girlguiding.
“Together we will engage with even more young people to inspire and educate them about aviation and becoming a pilot.”
A survey of 556 pilots commissioned by easyJet found that the desire to become a pilot typically happens much later for girls than it does for boys.
The majority of male pilots (55%) knew they wanted to do the job by the age of 10, whereas almost half of female pilots (44%) did not consider the role until they were over 16.
Kate McWilliams, an easyJet captain and former Brownie, said: “I never thought that being a pilot as a job was an option for me until I was nearly an adult. Growing up, I didn’t know any commercial pilots who I could ask for advice and didn’t see anyone doing the job that I could relate to.
“Having been a Brownie myself I am delighted that this new aviation badge will engage girls in a pilot career from an early age. I love being a commercial pilot for easyJet, it’s a fantastic career and anyone with an interest should consider it.”
The Amy Johnson Flying Initiative – named after the flying pioneer – was launched in October 2015 to tackle the stereotype that men are more suited to being pilots than women.
In the year ending September 2015, women made up 6% of easyJet’s new pilot intake and 5% of its total pilot community.
EasyJet’s aim of doubling the proportion of female new entrant pilots to 12% over two years was achieved after 12 months, leading to the new target of 20% by 2020.