Why Is The Percentage Of Women In Aviation So Low?

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.

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.

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.

Video of the day:

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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Ben Farrell

why does it honestly matter? men are much more inclined to be pilots than women, and women are much more inclined to be cabin crew than men, that’s just how it rolls whether people like it or not, diversity hiring only means lower standards and more people you’re gonna piss off, if theres women out there that want to be a pilot, great, let them do it, but stop speaking on behalf of all women if only a very small percentage of women wants to actually be a pilot

Joseph Sciberras

In countries such as Denmark, with equal opportunity policies, women actually tend to choose aviation or STEM careers less when compared to countries such as Bangladesh, where, from what I understand, equal outcome is pushed.


Absolutely. There used to be barriers, and those were rightfully removed. Now any woman who goes through the training can get a job as a pilot just as easily as a man. Fake quotas won’t create anything positive.

George Helles

Women are entirely welcome to the pilot profession. There are no gender barriers. Women at the big airlines were given preference to be hired ahead of white males with much higher flight hour resumes. White males at United had to have 4000 hours plus in the 90’s while women and minorities were being hired with less than 500 hours. The law has changed requiring all applicants to have a minimum of 1500 hours today. Traditionally this is a very difficult career for women especially if they are interested in starting a family. It demands long hours from home and long… Read more »

Carl Rackman

Part of the problem was inequality of opportunity, particularly after WWII. This has now been addressed but it takes time to train and progress in airlines due to the seniority rules.



There should be more females in aviation