Mary conceived of Gift Academy Inc, initially to determine why more women were not finishing their flight training or even starting.
Sometimes be careful what you ask for. She only intended to inspire a few women in their flight training by inviting them to some free instruction and ground school so she could ask those questions and hoped they would network and that other schools would eventually take up her idea and make it even better. We all were already teaching many students from a fairly large region for such a small town airport and only word of mouth advertising. As Mary also a designated pilot examiner (DPE) in the Lubbock region she figured would only see those who could drive in from this same region. We had 14 ladies, from California, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida and Texas too. What we all found bothered us as instructors, from bad instruction, to lack of instruction (hours flown but no progress) and even some being ignored at flight schools, or lessons with sexual innuendos and requests for dates etc. By the third year and now 40 plus women attending, we are still seeing the same only on a larger scale. Now many are getting good training from decent instructors, but the women are falling thru the cracks firsts when they begin to struggle with learning some concepts or feeling patronized when asking some questions or expressing concerns or when they have a personal conflict and feel ignored and leave because the school decided they were being too sensitive. And the majority of all women attended beginners and advanced experience dealt with low self confidence in their skills. And feeling like the only female at the airport ever.
Fast Forward entering our fourth event... still seeing some of the above, but we are seeing returning ladies advancing to their next rating or license. We are seeing more networking among our ladies, thanks to our social media, plus making our own connections to groups like the Ninety Nines, and the former Girls with Wing non profit (Lynda is still active with her social media) and AOPA. After a minor blog post that seemingly seemed dismissive of our girls only week, our email and phone lines began to stay busy with the curious and desperate. We invited some to come train at normal rates rest of year and they did.
Now sounds like we doubled our business, we didn't.... we quadrupled it! These women finding success with us, began to bring their significant others, friends, and children. And so many have been sending us women they have met along the way to us!
So what has been your experience in your flight training?