In honor of Women in Aviation month, we’re featuring ExpressJet women who have successful careers in aviation and continue to advance the legacy of women in the industry.
In college, Shreveport-based line mechanic Rachael Sullivan was one of two women in a class of 30 studying for an A&P license.
“There were only about five women total at the entire school,” said Rachael. She graduated from the Airframe and Powerplant program at the Redstone Institute in Houston, Texas, which provides training and instruction in industrial fields.
While she always had an inclination toward mechanics, she never thought she’d be destined for a career in aviation.
“In high school, I was determined to join the military. Unfortunately, my medical history prevented my enlistment.”
Instead, she enrolled in Redstone and earned her A&P license in 2006. After graduation, she landed an interview with ExpressJet and was immediately hired as an A&P technician in Shreveport.
“When I first started my career, there weren’t many women pursuing maintenance careers. The women I did come across mostly got started from their experience in the military.”
It takes physical agility, good judgment and a dedication to safety to be a successful aircraft technician, and Rachael has never once doubted her or any woman’s ability to work in the field.
“I imagine that there was once an attitude that women weren’t as capable, but nowadays it’s not an issue. I’ve never had problems with it being ‘a man’s world.’ If given the opportunity and you work hard enough, you can do this job.”
After nearly a decade in aviation, Rachael has noticed an increase in the number of women, including the number of female mechanics, hired by ExpressJet. She hopes to see more women break into the industry but recognizes there are other challenges.
“It would be nice for women to expand the field,” she said. “But as an individual, you first have to be mechanically inclined and maintenance is a very specialized career. Many people don’t think of it when they think of airlines.”
Rachael encourages women interested in aviation careers to consider maintenance, and she hopes they never view their gender as a disadvantage, especially when in pursuit of a career not often considered by young girls.
“Women need to know we can hold our own and be successful in any career if we put our minds to it.”