Pilot inspires girls and pushes for inclusion in one of the most male-dominated professions
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This story was originally shared on #EqualEverywhere — a campaign to champion the changemakers working to make equality for girls and women a reality. You can find the original story here.

Jessie Elliott is a pilot for a major U.S. airline. She is prevailing in a male-dominated profession, opposes gender stereotyping, values workplace inclusion, and believes in generous paid family leave, including paternity leave.

What does #EqualEverywhere mean to you?

Equal everywhere means to me that girls, and boys, can grow up dreaming about what they want to become without thinking, "I can't do that because that is for boys" or "that is for girls."

Equal everywhere means women can make their own choices about their careers, their finances, their bodies, their lifestyles, and their futures. It means women can participate in all levels of corporations and government, in all industries, and at all levels of the military.

Equal everywhere means lifting up all women and minorities to the same status and worth as men so we all have the ability to influence the decisions that affect our lives.

Personally, it will mean people won't be surprised to see me in the flight deck of a large jet — instead of identifying me as a "female pilot," I will simply be considered a pilot.

Why do you advocate for equal rights for girls and women?

I advocate because the battle for gender parity is far from over, including in my industry. After I cleared my probationary period at my current job, I submitted a resolution requesting a change in the non-discrimination clause in our union contract. While my company has a robust equal opportunity statement that complies with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requirements, it had not evolved to accommodate the changing pilot population. Around this same time, I joined a group of female pilots and we created a new committee within our union that aims to guide our peers as they navigate challenges related to maternity leave, health care benefits during in-vitro fertilization, and other issues. We also created web content to tackle issues such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination, and LGTBQ concerns. Additionally, I have joined our union's Government Affairs Committee and am able to speak directly to members of Congress and to my own union leadership about issues that female pilots and minorities face daily.

I also advocate simply by being visible. At the end of every flight, I try to complete all of my post-flight duties as safely and efficiently as possible, then open the flight deck door to say goodbye to everyone. Often when young girls and their parents see a woman flew the airplane, the girls just completely light up and smile. I try to invite these kids into the flight deck and let them take pictures. Also, on nearly every flight, a woman passenger gives me a thumbs up or cheer as they disembark. Seeing is believing. When I have time, I speak to young kids at schools. I have also visited a few different high schools and college career programs to share my experience as a pilot and I never hide the fact that we need more girls interested in this industry.


Another reason I advocate is that I am somewhat of a pioneer, given how few of my fellow pilots share my gender and sexual orientation. Given my unique position, I constantly advocate to the pilot majority about the issues that women, minorities, and LGBTQ pilots face. I know that great advances can occur if you generate majority buy-in. I work hard to build solid relationships and create alliances with my male co-workers. Later, I engage these allies to speak up for women and minorities to the majority leadership.

What motivates you to do this work?

I love my job and I want more people across all backgrounds to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams as I have. I am just as capable of piloting an advanced jet aircraft as any man. I know that any person is capable of this, regardless of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, or background. I want every person to have a fair chance to pursue their dream career because I know how fulfilling it is.

What are the main challenges you experience in your work to advance gender equality?

As a female airline pilot, the two major challenges that I experience are resistance from the majority group, and the prevalence of a diversity-only mindset versus inclusion-oriented mindsets.

Minority groups within my industry have the impression that, if they want to succeed, they need to "just be like one of the guys". This resistance mindset opens the door for sexual harassment and sexual assault. The diversity-only mindset problem started showing up in the airline industry back in the 1990s when several airlines grappled with equal opportunity discrimination cases, after which a wave diversity hiring ensued, with marginalized groups given priority when applying for jobs. Airlines started hiring minorities without adapting the workplace for these new group identities, which in turn caused many minorities to leave the industry before completing a full career. Corporations and majority groups sometimes resist the idea of adapting workplaces for new groups due to costs. Instead of focusing on diversity, corporations should focus on inclusion to make sure that everyone feels welcome and safe.

What progress are you seeing as a result of your work?

Progress in the airline industry is slow and quiet. More and more girls and minorities are getting into flight training. Minority numbers are improving at the regional airline level. Internally, many airlines are creating opportunities where promotions can be obtained based on merit and educational opportunities which aid in future advancement are now offered to everyone. Airlines are highlighting inclusion wins and companies are targeting minorities more heavily in their recruiting efforts.

What progress are you seeing in the wider gender equality movement?

I see more companies focusing on diversity as well as inclusion. I see women and minorities refusing to remain quiet about change. I see a great number of straight, white men also advocating for equality and demanding change. I see people working together to inspire change, across all industries.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.