Jill Meyers has been named the 29th recipient of the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award as part of the one-year-anniversary celebrations for AeroTime’s Women in Aviation Campaign.
Jill was interviewed by the AeroTime team in September 2021, when she shared her experience across the aviation and aerospace sectors. She talked about her drive and passion for mentoring and outreach, as well as the opportunities for women across all aspects of the aviation industry.
Jill is an aerospace engineer, business leader, licensed pilot and Air Force veteran. But her impressive resume doesn’t stop there. She has been involved in various exciting international outreach projects in the USA, Africa and Australasia and, for the past 20 years, Jill has channeled her passion into championing, supporting, mentoring and advocating for girls and young women in STEM programs.
Presenting the award to Jill, AeroTime Chief Executive and Editor in Chief, Richard Stephenson, said, “Our Global Executive Committee felt that Jill’s story spoke for itself. Her dedication to our industry is unquestionable, formidable and inspirational. We have no doubt that there are already many people enjoying successful careers in aviation thanks to Jill and that many more will follow. We are delighted to make this announcement and that Jill Meyers now joins other award winners from six continents. It is an exclusive club of exceptional and deserving professionals. Thank you Jill for all you do and congratulations.”
Jill’s full citation reads as:
In recognition of her dedication and commitment to the aviation and aerospace sector; for her lifelong support to STEM and aviation subjects; for inspiring and supporting the next generation through mentoring and outreach; for her encouragement and support to younger generations and women to pursue aviation and STEM subjects and to join the aviation industry. The AeroTime Global Executive Committee recognises the positive influence of these efforts and the significance of their impact on the aviation industry and its people, both today and into the future.
Recognized internationally for her contributions to the industry, Jill has received various accolades including the San Diego Chamber of Commerce 2016 Women in Leadership Award and the 2018 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Outstanding Enhancement of the Image of the Aerospace Profession Award. In 2020, she was selected as one of the New Mexico Technology Council’s Women in Technology honorees, and in 2021 she was elected to the University of Texas at Austin‘s Academy of Distinguished Alumni. Perhaps her greatest honor was being elected in 2019 as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, which describes itself as the world’s only professional body dedicated to the aerospace community.
“When I got my pilot’s license at 17, I never saw another woman at all on the field,” says Jill. “There were no other female students, no female instructors, no women in the control tower. There were no women anywhere. And my flight instructor, who was an amazing guy, never said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, would you like to be a professional pilot? And here’s how.’ I had no thought in my head that I could be a pilot.”
She adds: “One of the reasons I do so much mentoring and outreach [work] is so that people don’t struggle as I did.”
Jill cites American astronaut Sally Ride who, in 1983, became the first American woman to travel in space.
“Sally Ride once said that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and it’s such a great concept because the issue arises when young girls don’t see women astronauts, female fighter pilots, or female firefighters – it doesn’t have to be aviation – or young boys not seeing male nurses, who tend to be predominantly women, at least it used to be.
“If you don’t see people that look like you in these fields, no matter which area you might come from in the world, you just don’t have that inspiration. And with that thought, one of the things I love to do with outreach is connecting other people.”
During a career spanning more than 25 years, Jill has worked in senior management roles for a number of aviation and aerospace companies, among them Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and on programs including the US/UK/NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Global Hawk, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. Jill was also an independent aviation management consultant for four years, providing her expertise to organizations around the world.
Jill realized early on in her career that she was often the only woman in a room alongside 40 or 50 male colleagues. While this has created challenges throughout her career, Jill has tenaciously managed to navigate these difficulties.
She says: “We still have issues in our industry. The way I’ve dealt with them is to fight it as best I can without ruining my own career. But it is also important to know when it’s time to leave.”
You can watch the full interview with Jill here: