The year 2017 will always be synonymous with the third wave of feminism which washed over the world like a natural disaster the moment Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. It will be a year remembered for its powerful women who rose up to fight the patriarchy and prove that women are just as capable, if not more so in some areas, than their male counterparts.
This celebration of women helped propel many leading ladies into the world’s spotlight, giving them a platform in which to inspire. One of these women is Maria Petterson, a 32-year-old pilot who is shaking things up on Instagram. The photo-sharing app, which is saturated with perfectly composed images of avocado on toast and coffee with croissants, is seeing a revolution as 2017 comes to a close.
The manicured (white marble) mold which kickstarted the careers of thousands of ‘influencers’ is no longer a recipe for instant online success, instead, users are seeking out role models to follow, which is where @PilotMaria comes in to play. “My story is about strong females in a male-dominated environment,” the Ryanair pilot proudly told the Mail Online. “Proving that we are just as good as them. Believing in ourselves and keeping a positive attitude towards life.”
It is this attitude which has seen Petersson, who became a pilot when she was 25-years-old, attract an enormous following online. With 453,000 followers who follow her exciting life religiously, the Swedish born pilot is helping to change the archaic perception that women aren’t as capable as men. Little over a year ago, Petersson had less than half the followers she has now, highlighting just how much the world has changed over the past 12 months. Before users may have been more inclined to follow accounts with a focus on decor and fashion, but now, there is a heightened interest in career-focused women who share their daily lives online. It is Petersson’s cockpit selfies and bikini-clad beach pictures that attracted global attention.
Clearly very proud of her job (and physique), the 32-year-old, who first started flying commercial planes when she was 30, posts motivational quotes under smiling selfies which have not only helped inspire other people, but push her further too.
“I loved the positive feedback I was getting and all the curious questions from young aviators asking about how to become a pilot or flight simulator pilots asking about a specific procedure,” she explains.
“After posting a few aviation related photos I realized how much bigger the world of aviation really is,” she said. “There is everything from pilots, ground crew, flight spotters, flight simulator pilots- the list can be long.” It is these people that Petersson has in mind every time she uploads a picture. But, it is also for those who are aspiring to work in the aviation industry. She hopes to prove that you don’t need to be a wealthy man to succeed in your dreams of becoming a pilot. “I never thought becoming a pilot was an option for me due to the high costs and the fact that most pilots were men,” she explains. “Before starting my training I worked and saved for most of the costs. In the end, mine cost me around 65,000 euros.”
“The more I thought about it the more I wanted it and I knew it was the perfect fit for me. I was 24 at the time. I worked hard to save for the costs of flight training and studied even harder. Hard work pays off and my dream became reality.”
“For me so far the toughest challenge has been to get that first flying job. Competition was tough and many unemployed pilots fighting for the same job. It took me years. I’m very lucky to be where I am today flying a young fleet of Boeing 737 around Europe.”
Petersson’s inspiring story is only just getting started and we wish her all the best in the future – it really seems like her career is about to take off!