Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nav Canada Says Not Enough Air Traffic Controllers Are Women, Minorities

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nav Canada Says Not Enough Air Traffic Controllers Are Women, Minorities

Article excerpt

Nav Canada wants more women controlling the skies

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MONTREAL - Assil Bedewi loves the complex task of directing the movements of the dozens of aircraft that criss-cross her screen as they take off or come in for landing.

As an air traffic controller for Nav Canada, it's her responsibility to ensure the planes swooping in and out of some of Canada's busiest airports have a safe path to take off and land without crossing paths.

But while the 34-year-old is thriving in a job that's regularly described as one of the world's most stressful, she remains a minority in a field that's largely still dominated by men.

According to Nav Canada, the private company that manages Canadian civil air navigation, less than 25 per cent of the workforce at the Montreal control centre are women.

It's something they're trying to change, in part by teaming up with Elevate, a volunteer-run network that promotes aviation careers for women.

Bedewi says she doesn't know why more women aren't flocking to a job that often pays six figures and only requires a high-school education, other than to assume they don't know about it.

"It's a matter of educating women to the fact that it's a job out there that is available to them, about the possibility of all these great jobs that are out there," she said.

On Friday, Nav Canada and Elevate offered reporters and school-aged children a tour of the gated red-brick building near Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport that is responsible for the entire airspace of Quebec, as well as parts of Nunavut and Eastern Ontario.

Lyne Moreau, the general manager of the Montreal Flight Information Region, said she hopes that more awareness about aviation careers is all it will take to attract more women and diverse candidates to a field that is traditionally male and white.

"One thing is, it's not a well known job, people don't know ... what the job is, what an air traffic controller does," Moreau said during the tour.

There's also the reputation for stress, dramatized by Hollywood films that portray air traffic controllers as nervous wrecks, shouting into headphones as they scramble to avert near misses. …

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