How Events Like the AMC Can Help Attract the Next Generation of Female Technicians

April 14, 2022
Women competing in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition look to win and inspire.

Many people are looking forward to competing in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition (AMC) Presented by Snap-on, but perhaps no one is more excited than Elena Gonzalez.

Two years ago, she organized a team of all female technicians from American Airlines to compete against the industry’s best aircraft techs, but the event in 2020, and subsequently in 2021, fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic and was canceled. It’s back this year though, and so is Gonzalez. Her team, aptly named WIT (Women in Tech) is joining several other female-only teams contending in the AMC April 25-27 in Dallas, Texas.

“I’ve been to the AMC, but this will be my first time competing,” said the Miami-based technician. “Above and beyond the competition, being able to meet and connect with other women in the industry is something that’s just so valuable to all of us. It’s going to be great.”

The Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on coincides with the annual MRO Americas show. The event provides a venue for professional and military technicians, and students to come together and test their skills against each other in 25 aviation-related events, while also developing a strong sense of camaraderie over two days of friendly competition. Teams compete to see who’s best in six divisions: Commercial Aviation, General Aviation, Space, School, Military and MRO/OEM.

Inspiring women

WIT will be one of a handful of teams at the AMC with rosters comprised only of women. While the opportunity to compete is motivating in itself, many of them are more eager to serve as inspiration to other women that this is a viable, great career choice for them to consider.

“It’s difficult to recruit females; this isn’t something that is typically advertised for women,” said Katrina Oyer, part of United Airlines’ all-female Team Chix Fix, which is returning to the AMC for a third straight year. “There’s nothing wrong with being a nurse, but this is also an excellent career choice for you. We can do maintenance just as well as the guys.”

It’s no surprise to anyone in the industry that aircraft maintenance is heavily male-dominated. According to Women in Aviation International, women comprise just 2.6% of all licensed aircraft mechanics in the United States. The figures are a bit better in Canada, where women make up an estimated 6% of all aircraft technicians, according to a 2018 report by the Canadian Council of Aviation and Aerospace.

One way to start turning this tide is reaching girls in middle and high school, and raising awareness that aircraft maintenance isn’t something just for boys. Gonzalez began pursuing her dreams of working on airplanes while in high school at George T. Baker Aviation Technical College in Miami. After she earned her A&P license, she landed a job with American. Now, seven years later, she often goes back to George T. Baker to help mentor other students interested in aviation.

“It’s amazing to see the girls’ reaction to seeing people who are actually working in the industry right now. It really helps to give them perspective, and it’s encouraging to me to see them light up,” she said. “It becomes real to them when they see us, and we can help push them further to pursue their career. That’s one of the biggest rewards to me.”

Gonzalez can continue encouraging George T. Baker students from the competition floor as the school is sending a team to compete in the AMC. American Airlines is picking up the costs of travel for the entire school team to fly to Dallas.

Building connections

Cassandra Hepp is captain of team Elevate Aviation a Canadian-based organization whose mission is to provide a platform for women and underrepresented groups to thrive and succeed through careers in aviation. This is Elevate Aviation’s third year in a row of fielding an all-female team in the AMC.

“I’m excited to hear that there are other female teams heading to Dallas. I feel like for us because we’re so few and far between, whenever I meet another female AME, I just instantly connect,” said Hepp, a licensed engineer with Canadian North Airlines. “We can build connections so fast because we can bond over so much.”

Elevate Aviation is currently filming a documentary about women and the life-altering transformations that happen when they gain access and chase their aviation dreams. As part of that documentary, Elevate Aviation is planning on having a film crew follow the team to Dallas as they compete in the AMC.

“The whole through-line of the film is to examine all the barriers to women getting into aviation and ultimately staying in the industry,” said Kendra Kincade, President and CEO of Elevate Aviation. “It’s really a journey of uncovering the barriers, and showing people how amazing aviation is for everybody. We want to encourage more people to come in.”

AMC recruitment

Getting women or men to come in continues to be a challenge for aircraft maintenance. According to Boeing, 132,000 new technicians need to be hired in North America alone to meet staffing demand through 2040. Globally, that number jumps to 626,000 technicians through 2040. That’s why events like the AMC are so valuable to both students and the professional teams alike, as some of those entries, such as the airlines, keep a close eye on young talent as potential new hires.

“All major airlines are hiring technicians,” said Bonnie Turner, Director, Airframe Repair & Overhaul at United Airlines. “We recruited heavily at the 2019 AMC, and it was very beneficial. We view the AMC almost like a two-day job interview for these students. We’re also talking with the military teams as some of those folks may be separating in the near future. We’ll recruit any good technician.”

Turner said in addition to the AMC, United participates in several other recruiting-focused events to find new technicians. The airline is fielding three teams to compete in Dallas. In addition to Chix Fix, the airline has an MRO team that's coed.

“The original goal of Chix Fix was to advertise and demonstrate that this can be a great career choice for young ladies – and that’s something we still promote with the women on the team,” Turner said. “Ultimately, we’re looking for talented people. I don’t care what sex you are, what nationality you are, what color you are – a good technician is a good technician.”

Admission to the Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on is free with your MRO Americas convention credentials. If you’re at the show in April, be sure to stop by and cheer on the contending men and women working to keep air travel safe and secure. For more information on the AMC, visit

Steve Staedler is a senior account executive at LePoidevin Marketing, a Brookfield, Wisconsin-based business-to-business marketing firm that specializes in the tooling and aerospace industries. Steve has been covering aeronautical maintenance for more than 13 years; is a former newspaper reporter and retired master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he worked maintenance and public affairs. He can be reached at [email protected]; 262-754-9550. 

About the Author

Steve Staedler | Senior Account Executive

Steve Staedler is senior account executive for LePoidevin Marketing that handles the Snap-on Industrial account.