To commemorate International Women’s Day five key developments for women in aviation last year are celebrated, as an industry historically dominated by men continues its journey to gender equality.
It’s a sad fact that, with a few exceptions, when flying travellers are still most likely to encounter women in public-facing service roles, such as flight attendants or at check-in. According to research from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP) women make up only 5% of pilots across the globe, and only 3% of airline CEOs.
But as 2019’s International Women’s Day approaches, flight and travel comparison platform Netflights is highlighting how a #balanceforbetter was achieved in the aviation industry in 2018, including the first appointment of a female CEO by a major airline, an increase in female pilots, and how a group of female airline technicians are challenging the idea that the only place for women on planes is a ‘Trolley Dolly’.
Five big moments for women in aviation during 2018:
- Air France hired their first ever female CEO - In December Air France appointed Anne Rigail as its new CEO, making her the first woman to ever take up the prestigious role in the airline’s 85-year history. Prior to her appointment, Rigail had been Air France’s executive vice president.
Rigail is seen as a force to be reckoned with, with her predecessor, Benjamin Smith, describing her as a “strong professional within the industry”. Her brief? To completely transform Air France.
- India had the more female pilots than any other country - In the UK around 4.77% of airline pilots are women – however in India it is more than double this at 12.4% – that’s according to the ISWAP.
- Zoom Air had the highest number of female pilots - Data from (ISWAP) highlighted that regional Indian airline Zoom Air has the most female pilots of all airlines worldwide. They employ nine female pilots out of a total of 30. IndiGo has the second highest percentage of women pilots at 13.9%.
Bottom of the list is Norwegian airlines – they only had 1% of females in the cockpit, in comparison to the global average of 3.2%.
- The Nancy Bird Walton initiative launched - In late 2017 Qantas announced the launch of a new initiative named after pioneering Australian aviator and the founder and patron of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association, Nancy Bird Walton. The aim of this was to commit to a 20 per cent intake of qualified women during its 2018 Future Pilot’s Program.
- Chix were Fix-ing airplanes - The ‘Chix Fix’ are a group of female technicians from all over the USA. They formed together in 2018 to compete as the first all-female commercial airline team in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition. They did so with the hope to raise awareness all over the world that aircraft maintenance is a career path for people of all genders.