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When you think of women in aviation, names such as Amelia Earhart and Sheila Scott may come to mind, but what about modern aviation and the women behind the roles that make up todays industry?

As a male dominated industry, aviation lacks representation and diversity with very few women pursuing a career within the industry. We’ll be looking at what aviation looks like for women in 2023 and what airlines can do to recruit more women.

How many currently women work in aviation?

Before we look at the challenges women face in the aviation industry, it is important to establish how many women work in this field and have faced these challenges in their career.

The number of women in aviation has shown a slow but steady increase over previous years with the desire to recruit more women into the industry growing by the minute. Despite the slow increase in women in aviation, a 2019 study released by the University of Nebraska found that women make up just 9% of pilots and less than 5% of Maintenance technicians and Airline executives (CEO, COO). Further demonstrating the gender imbalance within the aviation industry, despite its slow growth.

What challenges do women face in aviation?

Without understanding the challenges faced by women in the aviation industry it’s difficult to pinpoint what airlines can do to support women in their careers as they enter and progress. From a lack of representation to stereotyping and prejudice, women who choose a career path in a male dominated industry may often encounter unnecessary barriers, dissuading them from pursuing or progressing with their career in the aviation industry.

Representation for women is often difficult to find in aviation including leadership roles and the media surrounding the industry. This can have a significant impact on young women looking to access aviation as a career or women already in the industry looking to progress and advance their career.

Stereotyping and prejudice
As with many male dominated industries, aviation has not escaped the stereotyping surrounding who is best suited for certain roles such as aviation mechanics. Linking in with representation, it’s common to see women often only presented with cabin crew as a potential career prospect, further aiding the stereotyping and prejudice within male dominated industries.

What are airlines doing to help women access careers in aviation?

The 25by2025 initiative
Active change across an industry as large as aviation can only be achieved by airlines globally working together to reach a mutual goal. The 25by2025 initiative, led by the International Air Transport Association, was created with the goal of raising awareness surrounding the need to improve female representation in the aviation industry. This initiative has allowed global airlines and industry partners to commit to paving the way for a truly diverse and inclusive industry that recognizes female talent.

What more can airlines do to recruit women?

Recruiting more women in aviation isn’t an easy task, with such a male dominated industry it can be a difficult process for airlines to reach out and appeal to future female employees without first bridging the gaps and educating young women about what career prospects they hold.

Community outreach and Education
Working with non-profits such as the Women in Aviation International, or directly with young women studying STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and maths) could provide the much-needed opportunities airlines are looking for to support women into their aviation career.

Workplace environment
Creating a flexible and diverse workplace for everyone not only promotes a healthy working environment but supports airlines in recruiting employees and promoting careers for life. This healthy working environment also encourages support for career progression and education whilst employed by airlines.

Leading by example
From an early age we look to those in senior roles to set the example of behavior and to offer guidance which is why it’s important for airlines to lead by example from the top. Employees in leadership roles should be setting the example and promoting accountability whilst showing what career opportunities are available to women.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Recruiting more women in aviation requires not only changes to the industry but education to young women and girls, in addition to funding opportunities, workplace support and representation in the media. However, with pledges already in place and airlines working towards a mutual global initiative of an improved ender balance within the aviation industry, the future is looking bright for women in aviation. From Girls in Aviation Day (23rd September) to Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (the week of 8th March), airlines have been shown to be putting an effort into making a more diverse industry, and while there is still progress to be made, it’s a step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing the aviation industry progress.

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Written by

Tegan Oliver

As a Digital Content Executive at Ideagen, Tegan works with the wider team to create informative, engaging content on a range of topics. With a background in marketing, Tegan is passionate about creating meaningful content and improving her skills and knowledge along the way. 

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