Michele Summers Halleran

Michele Summers Halleran, Professor, Department of Aeronautical Science & Director, Diversity Initiatives, College of Aviation, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Michele Summers Halleran has a rich and varied background in aviation, both as a pilot and as an educator. After graduating from college, she began a 10-year career as a professional pilot accumulating over 5,000 flight hours. She has flown corporate and international airline operations in Lear Jets, DC-10s, and Twin Otters on floats. Michele holds an ATP certificate – multiengine land and sea, a Lear Jet type rating, Flight Engineer Certificate, Flight Instructor, and Ground Instructor Certificates.

After her second airline furlough in 2003, Michele embarked on an academic career as both an educator and researcher. She attained a Master of Science in Aeronautics Degree in 2004 and later a Master of Business Administration Degree in 2013. Today, Michele is a Professor in the Department of Aeronautical Science and the Director of Diversity Initiatives for the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Daytona Beach, FL campus.  Her research focuses on safety risk management, pilot training, and STEM diversity.


Female Pilot Recruitment in a Collegiate Professional Pilot Program

Women remain a minority of STEM workers in the United States today. STEM refers to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Increasing the female student population at the university level should increase the female population in STEM fields. Although a higher percentage of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to females than to males in 2015–16 (58% compared to 42%), in STEM majors, a lower percentage of bachelor’s degrees were awarded to females than to males (36% compared to 64%). This development was observed across all ethnicities and racial groups (NCES, 2019).

While most non-STEM related industries have made significant efforts to attract women in the last few decades, the aviation industry is still severely lagging. The statistics for the number of pilots in the US show a gross disparity between genders. As of December 31, 2018, the percentage of total female pilots (not including certified flight instructors) in the US is 7.3%. The percentage of female certified flight instructors is 6.7%, while the percentage of female Airline Transport Pilots (ATPs) in the US is a paltry 4.4% (FAA, 2019). While the airline industry has suffered a pilot shortage over the last two years, the number of total ATPs has risen 9.7% to meet the demand. However, the female ATPs only increased from 4.36% to 4.40% from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2018 (FAA, 2019).

For the purpose of this session, female pilot outreach and recruitment programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) will be discussed. Currently, in the Professional Pilot major at ERAU on the Daytona Beach campus, there is 14% female students. Our current recruitment goal is 25% female flight students, thus increasing the female pilot percentage within the aviation industry.