Today marks International Women’s Day, a time for celebrating women’s achievements, while also calling for a more gender-balanced world.

Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day successful – and today, we would like to acknowledge the achievements made by women in the aviation sector, and also push for change regarding the gender gap in the industry.

So what does the aviation industry look like genderwise? Taken from our recently launched annual report, we’ve shown our insights in to the gender difference, taken from our data on Google Analytics:

Our data suggests that the aviation industry at present is male-dominated. Out of everyone browsing jobs on our website in 2018, 63.76% of users were male, while 36.24% were female.

When examining the gender split for different roles on our website, there were some stand out categories that showed a clear lack of female presence. 

69% of users who browsed for executive positions on Aviation Job Search for example, were male.  

As reported by Bloomberg last year, the proportion of women holding CEO roles in aviation is around 3%, which compares with 12% in other industries. North America has the largest proportion of women in senior aviation roles at 16%, while female representation is lowest in the Middle East.

The Pilot category was, expectedly, predominantly male – almost 80% of users looking for pilot jobs were male, while 20% were female.

This particular category has been a talking point with regards to the gender split in recent news over the last year or so. The current shortage of pilots has been addressed profusely, and companies like easyJet are currently tackling the shortage by making a bigger effort to recruit more women. In 2015, the airline launched the Amy Johnson Flying Initiative in a drive to double the number of female new entrant pilots to 12% over two years. It has now set a more ambitious target of 20%, to be reached by 2020.  

Female pilots across the world

  • Worldwide, 5.18% of commercial pilots are women, according to the Airline Pilots Association International trade union
  • As reported by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP), Indian airlines employ the highest proportion of female pilots – 12.4%. Zoom Air, a regional Indian airline tops the leaderboard
  • In the UK, around 4.77% of airline pilots are women, according to the Civil Aviation Authority
  • In the US, 5.12% of airline pilots are female, according to the BBC

 

We spoke to BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, who said the following regarding the gender split in the pilot sector:

“The gender split of pilots in commercial aviation has been stark for many years – currently sitting at around 94% male.

“While BALPA would like more investigation into the root causes of the low numbers of women in the profession we believe that there are some key factors, including a lack of visible role models and a lack of support once women enter the profession, namely when it comes to starting a family.

“For example, when women pilots go on maternity leave their wages are slashed to just £145.18 per week, which can mean up to a 90% pay cut, and many find themselves struggling financially. BALPA is calling for the airline industry to offer enhanced maternity pay for pilots across the board, 26 weeks full and 26 weeks half pay.

“If airlines are serious about taking on more women pilots they should say yes.”

One sector of the aviation industry which can be celebrated for female presence is the Cabin Crew category. Our figures showed that 64% of users who applied for Cabin Crew jobs were female.

 

Speaking about the history of gender divide for Cabin Crew, The Cabin Crew Wings Team said:

“The gender divide of the role of Cabin Crew has changed dramatically over the decades. Originally, the job consisted of refuelling and packing luggage, and was a largely physical job carried out by men. However this trend changed post war, as the role became more customer service based.

“At this time airlines could then pay female ‘sky-girls’ less, and shortly after many airlines stopped employing male Cabin Crew altogether. But when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, airlines were forced to rethink this policy and the gender balance of the Cabin Crew role was reversed.

“In recent years, the stereotype of the female ‘trolley dolly’ and the ‘camp’ male counterpart is (quite rightly) being challenged more and more, and whilst there is definitely still a divide in terms of the proportion of male/female flight attendants, the culture shift towards equality is making it easier for both male and female Cabin Crew to enjoy the career that they choose.

“Being Cabin Crew is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and regardless of race, gender or sexuality if being crew is your dream then you should follow it!”

Years of reporting have exposed the gender imbalance in the airline industry, and plenty more still needs to be done to try and even things out. The scarcity of women leaders in aviation in particular must continue to be a talking point – what can be done? A change in role models perhaps? Maybe more creative campaigns, e.g. mentoring, coaching and setting objectives?

What are your thoughts on gender gap in the aviation industry? Leave a comment below.

 

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