Social and Environmental Responsibility Report

Empowering Latina Aviation Leaders Claudia Zapata-Cardone achieved her dream of becoming a pilot for United Airlines in 2015, but getting there

wasn’t easy. As a Colombian-American woman in a male-dominated field, she faced multiple discriminatory biases in the airline industry, including being told she was not physically strong enough to be a pilot. Beginning her career as a flight attendant, she said that she has had to work hard to overcome many conscious and subconscious biases as she advanced in her career. Rising above to ensure that future Latina pilots don’t face the same challenges has become a driving force behind her support of a new organization at Embry-Riddle. The Empowering Latina Leaders Aviation Subcommittee (ELLAS) is a branch of the nationally recognized nonprofit organization, the Latino Pilots Association (LPA). Zapata- Cardone, who was promoted to captain in 2019, serves as the LPA’s community outreach director. “The aviation industry is an industry where most women of color will tell you they ‘feel’ their gender first, followed by their race or ethnicity,” said Zapata-Cardone. “By feel, they face discriminatory behaviors based on their gender first, followed by other social identities.” This is why the ELLAS was set up at Embry-Riddle, to help build confidence and empower Latina aviators by offering unique mentorship, workshops for mental and physical well-being, guidance on overcoming micro-aggressions and access to a recruitment community.

Raquel Villagomez serves as executive director of the Empowering Latina Leaders Aviation Subcommittee (ELLAS) at Embry-Riddle. Part of the Latino Pilots Association, the ELLAS are working to help Latina aviators succeed.

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