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Diversify and Watch the Ranks Grow

During the 2021 International Women in Aviation Conference session “Pilot Talent Diversity: Minority Barriers Hindering the Majority”, Boeing analyst Jacqueline Davidson posed the question, “When was the last time you saw a female pilot in your passenger journey?”

Because females comprise just 5.18 percent of the pilot population, the most likely answer is either “never” or “I can’t remember.” 

As the world slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a great time to get females and other minority groups into the aviation industry.  In the years leading up to the pandemic, the industry was facing a looming shortage of pilots, aviation technicians and cabin crewmembers.  In Boeing’s latest biennial study, that shortage is predicted to be even more acute between now and 2039.

A conscious effort is needed to deliver the message that all are welcome – and encouraged – to consider a career as an aviation professional. 

Davidson interviewed female pilots about their experience in the industry to try and understand why a job as a pilot can be discouraging for some women.  Scheduling, preconceived ideas, being perceived as timid, and a feeling of having to choose in between family and work were some of the common answers from interviewees.

“Developmentally, we know that exposure can influence individuals,” said Davidson. Young girls are not exposed to the idea that pilots can be female, therefore they do not consider the possibility.  Davidson added that the key to increasing the percentage is “seeing and believing.”  Featuring minorities in the industry can be a key step in showing young girls that they, too, have a seat up in the flight deck.