It is 109 years since Baroness Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman to fly solo in 1909. In spite of the significant contribution to aviation made by a large number of women over more than a century (the Pioneer Hall of Fame pages on the website of Women in Aviation contains many), aviation still has a long way to go in pilot gender equality. CAPA has been active in reviewing the issue of women in airline management over the years, but the trends leave few grounds for encouragement.
Data for the US and the UK indicate that just over 4% of airline pilots are women. This share is growing, but very slowly. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, the US big three airlines have the highest number of women pilots and the Indian LCC IndiGo has the highest proportion (13.9%). However, consistent global data on women airline pilots do not exist.
The background papers for an Aug-2018 ICAO conference, ‘Global Aviation Gender Summit’, incorrectly used a figure of 5.18% from the Airline Pilots Association International (which represents pilots in the US and Canada) as a global ratio.
This is a much needed event, but if a global aviation organisation at a conference dedicated to improving the industry’s gender balance cannot precisely calibrate the challenge, then the challenge must be great.