In 2021, female pilots made up around 64,979 of total FAA-certified pilots, accounting for only 9%, a recent survey showed. Professions like mechanics, maintenance crew member, or flight engineers are not breaching 10% as well. While women still remain a minority in the industry, there has been a slow but steady increase of female aviation professionals.
Compared to 2017, there has been a 52% increase in women pilots – from 42,694 to 64,979 – and a 20% increase in mechanics – from 6,855 to 8,231. Some even predict that in the near future, one in four pilots will be a woman behind the yoke.
“Unfortunately, the road for women in piloting, aviation mechanics or engineering is still a rocky one,” explains Alison Dsouza, Director of Aerviva Aviation Consultancy, a Dubai-based international consultancy, specializing in aviation recruitment and document management. “A positive is that while there were no drastic changes in the past 10 years or so, there is a notable increase in women aviation professionals overall. In recent years women became more assertive in terms of pursuing their dream career paths in aviation. This is mostly reflected by the growing number of female pilots across the age groups.”
According to a recent survey, India has taken the spot of the leading country when it comes to female pilots worldwide, with roughly 12.4% – twice the global average. Comparatively, in Ireland just 9.9% pilots are female, whilst in UK only 4.7%.
“On the other hand, we see more women pilots being represented in the media and various campaigns set to bring better spotlight on the industry,” stresses Dsouza. “Such projects encourage both young girls that are still at school and working women to pursue their passion. There is no such thing as a male or female profession, so inspiring both young and old is important. And these slow and steady numbers are, too, changing the game – one step at a time.”
Not only airlines, but training organizations are taking action in shining light on the still-small numbers of women in aviation. Several scholarship programs have been initiated that offer fully funded training for a select number of recipients.
While the progress could have a quicker pace, the steadily increasing numbers and stories of women in aviation give hope that bringing more attention on these role models will encourage more women to pursue a career in aviation – be it a pilot, a mechanic, or a ground handler.