Around the world today, many will have celebrated International Women's Day, an opportunity to reflect on equality for everyone, regardless of gender.

IVAO has consistently taken steps to ensure our organisation is welcoming for all. Whatever your background, first language, country of origin or gender, our network welcomes you with open arms. In a hobby that was historically a male-dominated environment, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight women in our organisation and the fantastic contributions they make to our network daily in the hope of encouraging more women, young and old, to join us in one of the greatest hobbies on earth!

We sat down with Lisa and Sonya to discuss IVAO, what they do, and why they continue to love our organisation.

Meet Sonya, from St Petersburg in Russia.

She is currently in the 9th Grade and also a member of her local Youth Cosmonautics Club, or YCC for short, where she learned about IVAO. At the YCC, they participate in IVAO events every Sunday, undertaking air navigation lessons on their two flight simulators.

At first, she never really understood the attraction of becoming an air traffic controller; she felt it was dull, but since joining IVAO, she has fallen in love with the organisation and, even more, the people. She looks forward to every event and hopes for every possibility of getting behind the radar screen and controlling it.

Since she was little, she had hoped to become a pilot, but thanks to IVAO, she now seeks to become an air traffic controller as she finds it more interesting than being a pilot.

What made you want to join IVAO?

When I was a kid, I went to the airport and met some people who work in the aviation industry. I thought aviation was very interesting and would like to do it myself so I joined IVAO.

What does IVAO do to make you feel a part of the family?

Very good people who train me, very friendly staff. Very peaceful environment.

What other hobbies do you enjoy besides IVAO?

I participate in both a dancing and a reading club.

What was a poignant moment for you on the network so far?

I participated in a Real Life Event (RFE), which was amazing! You finally get to see and meet the people you speak with daily on the network. You can share your best knowledge in person.

What would you say to other women who are dubious about joining IVAO?

Don't be afraid to join the network because you feel it is full of men. IVAO will not treat you differently for being a woman; however, everyone is treated equally and respectfully.

What is your favourite thing about aviation?

I am just fascinated by aircraft and how everything works. It's incredible how an aircraft stays up in the air!

Meet Lisa, from Bern in Switzerland.

Lisa is 23 years old; she volunteers in our Events, Membership and Public Relations teams at IVAO Switzerland. Besides IVAO, she is a scout leader and plays floorball in an active league. She has worked as a nurse for four years and is currently in a career change.

She joined IVAO to become an air traffic controller and has been an active member ever since. About a year ago, she joined the divisional staff and was responsible for three departments. A few months ago, she started to fly on the network and enjoys the divisional tours and assisting training/exams as a VFR traffic. As an air traffic controller, she has learned to control both major airports in Switzerland and is currently working on her Aerodrome Controller rating.

In the future, she wants to improve her ratings even further and intends to become an Oceanic Controller. As for her staff career, she hopes to be able to join the Membership HQ Staff one day. In her private life, she started saving money so she could get her Private Pilot Licence.

What made you want to join IVAO?

I am fascinated by aviation. When looking for Air Traffic Control and Flight Simulation, I bumped into IVAO and liked the concept.

What does IVAO do to make you feel a part of the family?

The Division welcomed me. The most important part I received was an email with all the starting information so I could get underway immediately. The Division looks after you; I became more active because of the help I was getting where I needed it.

What other hobbies do you enjoy besides IVAO?

I am a scout leader and play floorball in an active league.

What do you do for a job?

I previously worked as a nurse. I am currently going through a career change where I am responsible for websites and flyers, both the design and graphics, for businesses.

What was a poignant moment for you on the network so far?

When I first joined the network staff team, I could give back to the members what I had experienced when I first joined. Joining the network staff team was a glowing moment for me.

What would you say to other women who are dubious about joining IVAO?

I have previously experienced male-dominated communities where you can see and feel a difference between whether you are a man or a woman, but IVAO is nothing like that; it's one family. IVAO is for everyone!

What is your favourite thing about aviation?

It's just fascinating. Since childhood, I have watched planes take off and land. There is nothing specific that is my favourite thing, and I just love everything about it.

We wish to thank Lisa and Sonya for speaking with our teams.

For today only, we also turned the Webeye into a beautiful shade of pink. Thanks to our team in DevOps, all flight tracks are showing a little differently!

IVAO continues to be committed to ensuring that it remains a home for everyone, and we hope by highlighting that our community has a vast array of individuals participating with us daily that, we can encourage more who feel that flight simulation and virtual air traffic controlling is not for them, to join us!

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