Why Is The Percentage Of Women In Aviation So Low?

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JMost people, when they think about a pilot, they generally imagine a male figure. Indeed, more males than females dominate the pilot industry. Although every year, the number of female pilots keeps increasing, there still is a significant gap in the number of male and female pilots. And, in the upper echelons of airline management, the male domination is quite stark.

Women in aviation
Women find themselves consistently outnumbered in the aviation world. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The number of women in aviation keeps growing

4.4% of pilots in the United States, according to a CAPA study, are women. Over a ten year period, however, the share of female pilots grew from 3.7% to 4.4%. In the UK, 4.3% of airline pilots are female- up from the 3.4% ten years prior.

In terms of airlines in 2018, United had over 900 female pilots, Delta was behind at close to 700, American topped 600. Lufthansa, Indigo, Skywest, and Southwest all had just over 300, but under 400 female pilots. Other major airlines, including British Airways, Air Canada, Air India, KLM, and Cathay Pacific also have a significant share of women pilots.

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Female pilots
Delta has one of the highest numbers of female pilots in the industry. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Stereotypes of women in aviation

Phrases such as “trolley dolly” reinforce negative stereotypes surrounding women in aviation. Indeed, most women in aviation work as members of cabin crew. Part of this comes from standardized roles for men and women back in the Golden Age of Aviation. When air travel started, the idea for flight attendants was to provide hospitality in the sky in addition to safety.

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Back in the early days of aviation, women were generally reserved for cabin crew roles. Photo: Boeing

Nowadays, however, airlines and professional groups are going the extra mile to recruit more female pilots. Flight academies and professional organizations bring together resources and support services to encourage more women to enter the aviation world. These include organizations like the Women in Aviation International and the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.

Will there be more women pilots?

In short, yes! Part of the solution to the lack of pilots involves diversifying the field both in terms of gender and race or ethnicity. Not to mention, around the world, many aviation markets are in huge demand for pilots.

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Several airlines, like American Airlines, are making an active effort to highlight the role of women in history and cockpit crew.

American Airlines
American Airlines is highlighting the role of women in their history. Photo: American Airlines

Hopefully, in the future, the number of female pilots do increase. For young women considering a career in aviation, a job as a pilot can be quite rewarding. With opportunities for growth and travel, the job of a pilot is not without its challenges but should be open for applications regardless of gender.

Are you a female pilot? Do you want to be a female pilot? Tell us your story in the comments below! Or, tag Simple Flying on social media with pictures of you in action!

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