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30th Annual Conference in Memphis: Civil Rights, Elvis, Ducks and… oh yeah Aviation

Under the theme MAKING CONNECTIONS, the International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA) held its 30th conference in Memphis Tennessee on October 23rd to 26th, 2018.


IAWA was founded 30 years ago to provide a forum to share views on matters of importance to the aviation industry as well as to women in general. This important milestone was highlighted by a record attendance for this edition of the conference, over 300 delegates made their way to Memphis this year to connect with fellow women aviation leaders, making IAWA and its mission more relevant than ever.

To celebrate the milestone, a video explaining the genesis of IAWA was produced, we invite you to view it here.

The city of Memphis is of great significance for aviation as it is the location of the FEDEX headquarters and its main hub and the FEDEX contribution to our conference was felt from the very first event. Participants who could arrive a bit earlier were treated on the Tuesday night to a very cool visit of the FEDEX hub and boy do these guys know how to entertain. The visit started at their visitor center, a building fully decked out with the sole purpose of welcoming visitors. From there we were ushered onto buses with very knowledgeable guides and for the next two hours were privy to every nook and cranny of the FEDEX campus, from the apron to the maintenance hangars to the package sorting facility, all the while being fed stories, anecdotes, facts and figures on the FEDEX daily operations. At the end of the tour, many were asking where to sign up to join FEDEX.

Making it as women in the wonderful aviation industry isn’t always easy, but none of our hardships even comes close to what the African American population had to endure throughout the 19th and 20th century and being in Memphis, the city where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, it was only right that the conference include a visit to the national civil rights museum, reminding us that the fight is never won while giving us hope for the future.

This activity gave us an opportunity to start connecting with one and other but it’s really at the opening reception a couple of hours later that we really broke the ice, coming out together to celebrate the next generation of aviation leaders; the 2018 IAWA scholarship recipients, five brilliant young ladies with a rich story and a brilliant future. Click here to learn more about the recipients and the Scholarship program.


As always, the IAWA conference presented a rich program, offering a good balance of education and inspiration. Discussion topics ranged from learning about the state of the industry and the trends disrupting it, to getting better acquainted with the cargo business and touching on the space side of aerospace.

We also got truly inspired by some great ladies such as the 2018 Women of Excellence Award Recipient, Marion Blakey, whose impressive career in both the public and private sectors set an example we can only dream to follow as well as by the trailblazing Dr Christine Darden, the first person to ask why men and women were treated differently at NASA and who paved the way for generations of bright female aerospace engineers.

Panels included:
As the sun set on the 2018 edition, we were reminded to keep following the dream while celebrating at Graceland. To view photos from the Conference, click here.

To keep the conversation going, we invite you to join us again in Lima Peru on October 16 to 18, 2019, and to continue connecting through the various IAWA gatherings all over the world, look for the schedule by clicking here.


. IAWA is a non-profit association providing a worldwide network dedicated to promoting the advancement of women in the aviation and aerospace industries at all levels across the globe. IAWA sponsors informative meetings, hosts receptions and connects, publishes newsletters, and keeps its members updated on the latest industry developments.