Winner of 2016 Women in Aviation Photo Contest Captures Grit and Determination

Marion Poon, Photographer

In August 2016, ICAO partnered with the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) to launch a photography contest that would promote Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Aviation. Submissions were received from around the world; 92 were judged on the selected gender statement, creativity, the aesthetic appeal of the photo and adherence to the contest guidelines.

Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, participants could choose from six categories:

  • Women conquering aviation technology;
  • Women leading the way as change agents in aviation;
  • Inclusiveness in the aviation workplace;
  • Advancements of women in aviation;
  • Bridging gender equality gaps in the aviation sector; and
  • Fostering the next generation of women in aviation

The first-place winner, Marian Poon, an artist and photographer from Singapore, was honoured at the 28th IAWA Annual Conference that was held in Montreal from 19 to 21 October 2016. She shared the story behind this winning photograph:

Marian Poon’s first-place photo: bridging gender equality gaps in the aviation sector

“The female technician in this photo is barely five-feet tall. All she wanted was to learn the systems and how to service an aircraft so she could move into investigations, following in the footsteps of her father. She was told she couldn’t do the shift work that path called for because the nights could get dangerous.

But she was determined.

After challenging the resistance, the technician persuaded her superiors to let her take on the night shifts, carrying out maintenance work on heavy components with high torque values and hazardous hydraulic fluids. She used the spanner above to change the filter on a Boeing 747 engine. Her size helped her fit in the wing tank.

This image doesn’t just prove that women can do what men can do, it points to how women can their physical limitations to thrive in a physically demanding environment. Beyond gender differences lies the greater values of respect and mutual understanding – there is a place for everyone.”

In 2013 ICAO began working with the International Women in Aviation Association (IWIA) to help increase the visibility of women in aviation and aerospace and to enhance gender equality in the air transport sector. Since then ICAO has offered three scholarships to professional women in aviation to give them practical on-the-job experiences at ICAO during nine-month assignments.