How Garmin Supports Women in Aviation

Garmin is no stranger to the world of aviation. We create products that help make flying safer, easier and simpler. Our associates want everyone to experience the feeling of soaring through the sky with breathtakingly beautiful views — and we want them to feel safe while doing it.

We also hope to make careers in the aviation industry and learning to fly less intimidating and more accessible for our customers and associates — especially women. It’s no secret that the aviation industry is comprised predominantly of men. Currently in North America less than 5% of pilots are women, but Garmin is working to change that.

“How?” you might ask. We’ll start with our associates. We want to share our passion for taking to the blue skies with anyone willing to jump in — or takeoff, if you will. Garmin hosts Flight Sim First Fridays, a day when associates are encouraged to utilise Garmin’s flight simulator to expand their knowledge and experience of flying with Garmin avionics.

Want to go even deeper? Garmin offers its very own ground school at no cost to Olathe-based associates. Whether you want to go on to learn to fly or just want to get some more knowledge about aviation, our very own woman in aviation, Jessica Koss, is there to help. Koss has been teaching ground school and sharing her passion for aviation with Garmin associates since 2017.

“I have had the pleasure of teaching private pilot ground school at Garmin for over seven years,” says Koss, a team leader in Garmin’s corporate flight department. “It’s exciting when associates take the class and are unsure if they’re interested in becoming a pilot, only to later take lessons, get their license, and pursue more advanced ratings and licenses. I am always reminded how impactful one class can be; it’s all about taking that first step.”

In addition to ground school, Garmin offers a partial reimbursement program for associates who want to earn their pilot’s license. The cost of renting an airplane, fuel, hiring a certified flight instructor (CFI) and more is definitely an investment, and that’s why Garmin works with local flight schools to make it a little easier to achieve that final “checkride” feeling. 

Since 2020, Koss has taught more than 200 associates with close to 20% being women looking to learn more about aviation. Many have chosen to earn their pilot’s license after taking Koss’ class, and one went all the way to earning her commercial pilot’s license. Koss’ impact can’t be measured in numbers, though. Her passion for aviation runs deep and is seen and experienced by everyone around her, including Isabell Grisnik, an aviation associate sales manager.

“When I started at Garmin, I was doing university recruiting — a job completely unrelated to our aviation segment,” Grisnik said. “During a new associate orientation, I first heard about Garmin’s flight benefits, and it sparked my curiosity. Later, Garmin celebrated Women of Aviation Week, and a female Garmin aviation engineer joined me at a local school to present engineering career opportunities for women to students. After that day, I started to think about the possibilities of me learning to fly and if it was even feasible.”

Grisnik met with other women at Garmin, including Koss, and realised she wanted to pursue a career in aviation. She took Garmin’s ground school, went on to get her private pilot’s license and is currently working on her instrument rating.

“While flying, I learned about Garmin’s aviation products and realised how amazing they were and thought ‘I could sell these,’” Grisnik said. “I joined the aviation sales team, and the rest is history. I was able to do all of this because of the opportunities Garmin offered. They made it so accessible for me.”

During Women of Aviation Week each March, Garmin associates educate female students about the aviation industry at our hangar in New Century, Kansas (as seen above), US Headquarters in Olathe, Kansas, and at various Kansas City area schools.

In addition to sharing our passion with our associates, we want to do the same for our community. Garmin celebrates Women of Aviation Week every March, hoping to inspire more young women to want to fly or work in the aviation industry, just like Grisnik. Throughout the week, Garmin will host young girls at our hangar to see what it’s like to fly in a small airplane. Associates will visit local schools to teach students about aviation and do a fun activity, and students on field trips will visit to Garmin headquarters for tours and a real-life look into how avionics are made.

“It is so important for younger women to be exposed to a variety of careers in aviation, and Garmin gives them that opportunity,” Koss said. “From being a pilot to having a career in aircraft maintenance, engineering or air traffic control, these young women have a chance to experience how fun and rewarding a career in aviation can be. When I take these girls flying, it is often their first time in a small airplane, and when I ask, ‘Do you want to take the controls?’, their faces immediately light up. These experiences are so important for the future of aviation, and I am thankful that Garmin and so many other organiations value the promotion and advancement of women in this industry.”