People

Women at Southwest Soar to Great Heights

One evening Southwest Ramp Agent Will Santiago was having a conversation about his job with his daughter Lilly. She asked whether there were any women who worked with him on the Ramp at Southwest. To help answer Lilly’s question and excite her about a career in aviation, Will turned to his Cohearts on Facebook. Over the next few days, dozens of our female Employees responded by posting photos of themselves on the job, sharing with Lilly the many different career paths available to women at Southwest.

Southwest exists to serve People. We do this by actively promoting diversity and gender equality, offering scholarships, and collaborating with organizations that support and encourage females pursuing jobs in the airline industry. So it was only natural that we invited Lilly to Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to give her a chance to experience some of these jobs firsthand. That day, Lilly performed a wide range of jobs: helping Customers check in, announcing the boarding gate, and even helping guide a plane into the gate.

But Lilly’s story didn’t end there. A few months later, Lilly paid Southwest another visit—this time at our Headquarters in Dallas—and rounded out her understanding of the many roles women perform at the airline. On the day of Lilly’s visit, Southwest was hosting an event with GenHERation, a networking organization that connects young women with companies like Southwest. During the event, a group of about 50 girls heard from a few of Southwest’s female Leaders. Lilly got to join in the fun.

Afterward, Lilly got to see a few of the jobs that she didn’t get to experience in Baltimore, such as the female Dispatchers working in our Network Operations Center (NOC), female Aviation Maintenance Technicians in Technical Operations, and the women who train new Employees. “The event was really a continuation and extension of Lilly’s story,” says Courtney Miller, a Community Engagement Communications & Outreach Specialist at Southwest. “We wanted to show the girls all the different ways that women are involved at Southwest. You think so often of Pilots and Flight Attendants when you go to the airport, but there’s so much more happening behind the scenes.

Through a range of activities, scholarships, and partnerships with organizations like GenHERation and Women in Aviation, we are working to encourage women to pursue careers in the field of aviation. “Most of us have heard our parents or grandparents say things like, ‘I wish I could’ve done this or that, but those opportunities weren’t open to me,’” says Courtney. “We are working to broaden girls’ horizons, raise their awareness of more opportunities, and give them a chance to pursue their passions.”

Southwest Employees are known for their Servant's Hearts, and Dallas-based Check Airman Ed Devitt’s ‘Servant’s Heart’ may very well be the reason I am now pursuing an aviation career. While at Dallas Love Field in 2012, my dad and I decided to look around the Southwest Flight Operations Training Center. As we walked through the simulator bay, Captain Devitt offered to run the simulator for us! My dad, Southwest Captain Kyle Odom, and I “flew” around Dallas in the sim and even landed a few times! I was hooked.
—Mackenzie Odom, Flight Operations Scholarship Winner

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