I want to share with you a short story from a famous and incredible person. These are her words and they give us some insight into the struggles she faced to reach her dreams.

She said, “I had a passenger walk by and look into the cockpit and see me in there setting up the panel of the aircraft. She then said to her friend that she didn’t realise pilots had secretaries on the plane.”

Beverley Bass’ career in commercial aviation began with difficulty. Beverley was told there couldn’t be a female pilot flying executives around because. “what would the wives think?”

That was an observation made by the trailblazing pilot, Beverley Bass. But this isn’t where her story started. Beverley had always been fascinated by planes ever since she was a little girl. By the time Beverley was eight, she had made up her mind and told her dad she would be a pilot. But there were a few problems. People told her she was too young and too short and at that time there were no female captains in America.

Later on when Beverley grew up, she was able to take her first flying lesson and when she came home knew that she had to fly for the rest of her life.

Beverley kept going on with her flying lessons and fulfilled the requirements and finally got her first job, I’m not sure many people in this room would have been able to handle her first job! Beverley had to fly for a mortician transporting dead bodies from one place to another in a tiny plane. If you ask me, I think she was underpaid! Just 5 dollars an hour!

Beverley admired American Airlines and she fought to get a job as a flight engineer. But yet again, she faced discrimination because she was a young woman working amongst older male pilots who had started their careers during World War Two. And even some of the flight attendants weren’t that friendly towards Beverley as they found a female pilot so unusual. But that didn’t stop her…

In 1986 Beverley Bass became the first female captain for American Airlines and not only that, in the same year Beverley led the first all female flight crew!

One day on a routine flight from Paris to Dallas, Beverley found herself making an unscheduled landing in Gander, Newfoundland after receiving information about a terrorist attack, which we now know as 9/11. Beverley and 6,600 other people were stranded on an island so small it could be considered a rock. They were grounded for five days. She handled the situation with courage and calm.

But now here is the question I want us to think about…WHY? Why was it so hard for Beverley to become a pilot? WHY did Beverley have to face this discrimination? WHY was it so hard for Beverley Bass, Michelle Payne and millions of other women to progress in their chosen careers?

I don’t understand why.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know why there aren’t more women in senior positions.

I don’t know why there aren’t more women in senior government positions.

I don’t have an answer why.

I don’t have the solution.

But I have the understanding to know it is wrong.

And, I do know one thing that makes a difference:  having female role models.

Which is why I have chosen to share Beverley’s story with you today. Beverley’s story has inspired me to keep going and to never give up with whatever challenges I face later on in life and I hope her story has inspired you as much as it has me.

 

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Talia Shnier
Talia Shnier is in Year 6 at Mount Scopus and loves to write stories with her friends. She enjoys reading, playing with her dog, Hope and building Lego creations. Last year she achieved her 2nd Pum (Black Belt) in Taekwondo. She wrote this speech for the Manuel Gelman public speaking competition in 2019 and was delighted to receive 3rd prize against some very accomplished, but fortunately friendly, competition.

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