In 2015 WAI introduced Girls in Aviation Day, to interest eight- to 17-year-olds in careers in the field.

Women in Aviation International

Women in Aviation International 

What It Is: A nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the aviation field, Women in Aviation International (WAI) provides scholarships, hosts conferences and outreach events, and provides resources for aviation career aspirants and professionals.

How It Grew: Facing difficulties attracting female aviation students, Dr. Peggy Chabrian, then dean of academic support at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, organized a 1990 seminar hosted by the school and featuring renowned aviators Moya Lear, Jeana Yeager, and Bobbi Trout. The seminar, in Prescott, Arizona, attracted some 150 participants, and the International Women in Aviation Conference has since been staged annually. 

In 1992 the group established the Pioneer Hall of Fame to honor women who contribute significantly to the aviation field, and the 1993 conference marked the launch of Women in Corporate Aviation. WAI formally organized as a nonprofit in 1994; its scholarship and chapter programs launched in 1995; and type-rating scholarships were first awarded the following year. Also in 1996, the organization named Chabrian president, and the conference launched the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance. Membership rolls reached 3,000 by 1998. By 2004, some $500,000 in scholarships was being awarded annually. In 2008, in partnership with the Experimental Aircraft Association, WAI introduced the annual WomenVenture networking event at AirVenture Oshkosh. That same year, with European membership increasing, the organization attended its first European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.

In 2015 WAI introduced Girls in Aviation Day, to interest eight- to 17-year-olds in careers in the field, and conference attendance reached 4,500. In 2016 WAI sponsored the first Arab Women in Aviation show in Dubai, and scholarships surpassed the $10 million milestone. At the 30th annual WAI conference this year, the U.S. Air Force, under the Pathway to Pilot initiative, conducted onsite interviews for the first time. In June WAI’s endowment surpassed $1 million.

What It Offers:

Local chapters. More than 125 worldwide.

Publications and programs. Aviation for Women magazine, Pioneer Hall of Fame.

Networking and educational events. Includes WAI annual conference, WomenVenture, Girls in Aviation Day, educators’ workshops.

Scholarships. Some $12.5 million awarded, including $948,000 at the 2019 annual WAI conference.

Recent news: In July, founder Chabrian announced that she will step down as president in April 2020.


Created: 1990 (officially established 1994) 

HQ: West Alexandria, Ohio

Membership: About 14,000

Staff: About 12

President: Dr. Peggy Chabrian