Glass ceiling no barrier to engineer

Despite being told by her school’s career counsellor that ADFA was “only for boys”, four years later Flight Lieutenant Kaitlin Flynn graduated from the academy with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering.

CAPTION: Flight Lieutenant Kaitlin Flynn, of No. 88 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, is an armament engineer. Story by Corporal Veronica O’Hara. Photo by Sergeant David Gibbs.

During armament engineering officer course, she learnt the chemistry and science behind weapons and explosives, and students created projects before visiting a range to set and detonate their own charges.

Flight Lieutenant Flynn’s group focused on incorporating aluminium into plastic explosives, trialling different compositions and experimenting with the ideal ratios.

“We had to come up with the idea, conduct the experiment and write a report on the results – it was really good fun,” she said.

Flight Lieutenant Flynn has liked the diversity of her roles and postings at Headquarters Air Combat Group and No. 81 Wing Combined Workshops, and especially her current one at No. 88 Squadron.

She was the only female in her flight at No. 81 Wing Combined Workshops and is one of three at No. 88 Squadron, but said there were lots of opportunities for mentoring and friendships.

“While it can be challenging working in a male-dominated environment, I’ve noticed that women tend to look out for each other,” Flight Lieutenant Flynn said.

“Women empowering other women – I think that’s something you wouldn’t see as much in industry, where it’s a lot more competitive.”

As a result of her positive experiences in Air Force, Flight Lieutenant Flynn is passionate about promoting the same opportunities to others.

“I am a fierce advocate for supporting the need to attract and retain women in non-traditional roles, and actively seek opportunities for representational duties where I can,” she said.

“To see a woman in uniform and know that’s an option is huge, especially for girls of high school age.”

Flight Lieutenant Flynn has supported Plan Jericho events at Melbourne’s Luna Park and the Australian International Airshow, promoting STEM initiatives and careers.

“Getting girls interested in STEM subjects at school increases their options after school and provides them with the opportunity to pursue a STEM career,” she said.

“Even if they choose another career path, they will learn valuable skills and problem solving.”

Flight Lieutenant Flynn said going from building things with Lego as a child to the engineer she is today is a progression she credits to her mother.

“She’s really good at what she does, very career-driven and always showed me that I could have it all,” she said.

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