Janet Shaw, Flight Simulator Operator Team Leader
Janet leads a team of Flight Simulator Operators in Aquila Air Traffic Management Services. She is based at the Defence College of Air and Space Operations
She gives a perspective of working as a woman in an Air Traffic Control training role with Aquila
I have been a Flight Simulator Operator (FSO) at RAF Shawbury since 1993. The FSO simulates the role of an aircraft pilot reacting to instructions from an Air Traffic Controller and it is a job which has been predominantly male oriented. Females make up about 7% of all certificated pilots globally so it is still rare, even nowadays, for an Air Traffic Controller to hear the voice of a female pilot.
Since Aquila took ownership of the FSO section in 2016 the number of female FSOs has increased steadily and whilst the percentage of females sits at around 32% the numbers are happily growing. More females have secured jobs as FSOs in the last 18 months than any time previously. Perhaps Aquila is bucking the trend and shaping the future.
I have always been in the fortunate position to be paid in line with my male peers and that pay has been based on the role that we perform. The men that I have worked with over the years have always been open and honest when discussing the salary that they receive. Any individual, regardless of gender should be encouraged to negotiate their own pay rise so long as they can justify that request.
Aquila employs a culture of inclusion and I feel that all opportunities made available to my male counterparts have also been made available to me. The services provided by Aquila are historically male dominated and it would be lovely to see a more balanced scale but not at the expense of talent. I would only want to see more women in roles if they are genuinely the best person for the job. I’m not entirely sure that we are doing enough to develop females already employed by Aquila yet but we have definitely taken the first step by becoming a signatory of the Women in Defence Charter.
Cindy Knight, Head of Performance and Procurement
Cindy was promoted to Head of Performance and Procurement in 2022 and is part of the Aquila Leadership Team
I joined Aquila in 2017 as a Senior Commercial Manager, into a team that was already well represented by women employees. However, at that time the business was less diverse at the more senior levels across the company but given the nature of our business was not unexpected. Having said this, I never felt this was in any way reflective of the culture at Aquila. In fact, since day one, I have always believed Aquila to have a very #inclusive culture and have always felt that I am heard, respected, and have a level of influence regardless of my #gender.
Fast forward six years and the Aquila Executive Team now consists of two women (40% of the team) and women are represented at all levels of the organisation, including the Board of Directors, Executives, the wider leadership team, project managers and within our engineering and maintainer teams. Not only does this drive the benefits of a more diverse leadership team, but also sets a great example to those considering joining Aquila that there is no limit to their opportunity due to gender.
I have seen first-hand Aquila encouraging progression and promotion within the company. When a vacancy came up last year for the Head of Procurement and Performance, I was encouraged to apply and was then successful in being offered the position and was delighted I was able to continue my career progression whilst remaining at Aquila.
As I considered my application for this role, it did not go without taking into account how it could impact my family. As a full-time working Mum with school age children, it’s really important to me to be able to do the Mum things that are important to my children. Whether it’s to be in the audience of an assembly or see their work at the end of term, taking on a new role with greater responsibility I questioned whether this would be compromised.
I therefore reflected on my previous five years at Aquila during which I have never felt compromised in balancing parenting with my role. This has been due to the family friendly culture at Aquila, which is embodied from the top down.
I recognise it is my choice to work full time in a leadership position, but perhaps I would not have been quite so quick to make that choice if I didn’t feel well supported by the flexible culture Aquila has to offer. The fact that we live in a world where Gender Pay Gap Reports are required shows that there is clearly more to be done to enable more women to feel they can make this choice without compromise.