The world recently marked the International Day of girls and women in science on 11th February, 2022. The day is set aside to recognize the role of women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries but also as agents of change. In commemoration of this day, Elizabeth Timona, a pilot at Jambojet, takes us through her journey in the sector and her thoughts on the opportunities for women in science.
When did your journey begin?
My journey began over 10 years ago in 2009 when I joined 99’s flying club for my training. It has been progressive from there on, with me practicing in different roles in the aviation industry which led up to my joining Jambojet in 2017.
My role as a first officer is flight management, team management, and safety management for flight purposes. Knowledge-based roles involve being updated on manuals and company policies.
Have you always thought of the aviation sector as your ultimate field?
Ever since I was a young girl, it was my dream to work in aviation. My greatest inspiration was my father, who is also a pilot. I thought he was very cool and wanted to be just like him. Dad was in the Airforce. His military attire for work is what I found the most intriguing. I was curious.
I recall very well, during the Nairobi air show back in the day, Dad would give us a tour of the aircraft and explain all the key instruments in the flight deck. For a young girl, this was fascinating. This further enhanced my decision to be a pilot.
What fulfills you on a day to day at work?
My work has many small victories that make it fulfilling. It’s completing a flight safely, especially in adverse weather conditions. You can’t help but feel like a superhero. Good landings also get me in a good mood. Above all, meeting all our customers and flying them from destination to destination is gratifying.
How has working in a male-dominated sector affected your personality?
Working in the male-dominated sector is nothing out of the ordinary. I have had to grow a thick skin to deal with the negative bias towards women that comes with the industry. However, at Jambojet, we are lucky to have a good number of female pilots that is higher than the industry average. Over 20% of the pilots at Jambojet are female.
What would you say to young Kenyan women who are considering a technical career like yours?
Go for it. The sky is where you belong. The only challenge is your outlook and mindset that is stopping you. Brain muscle is personal. Gender is a non-issue. We need a lot more women in the technical field, and opportunities are immense.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate women and girls in science?
We have made great strides in growing women and girls in science, and it is important to see that and celebrate it. We still have a long way to go, and highlighting the stories of women in this field is one way to support the conversation.
What do you think can be done have more women and girls in the technical side of the aviation sector?
I would like to see more mentorship programs that would guide young girls into the path of science. To give them support and give them a fighting chance against the glass ceiling placed by society.
What does the theme Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us mean to you?
The theme brings out an element of what I greatly stand for. This is the ability to work together, despite our differences, and achieve the common good. Access to clean water is a huge challenge that is experienced across the continent. Our joined efforts to bring awareness and provide solutions will go a long way.