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.