Increasing the participation of Women in Aviation & Aerospace…How can we achieve that?

Women are underrepresented in some areas of work, notably those where some knowledge of STEM subjects is required. More women typically work in jobs where the importance of soft skills is high but where technical skills are not as important, and on the other hand, men typically work in occupations where there is a more even blend of cognitive, social and technical skills. This clear divide in skills between genders needs to be addressed so that all students – whether male or female and at all stages of their education – are provided with an equal foundation upon which they can build the career of their choice. To do so, it is important to encourage more women in STEM fields and careers, to increase the diversity of ideas in the related workplaces, thus reducing the gender gap in these fields and encouraging teamwork among women and men. 

This will require greater equality in the nature of the support provided to students, improved recognition that the way males and females are taught may need to be different, and greater encouragement and breadth of careers advice from schools and parents. Only then will women be able to make better – informed choices about the potential of their future careers. 

Some strategies and changes that help achieve the goal: 

  • By removing existing barriers and impediments: It is important to identify characteristics that are impeding the progress and remove both real and perceived barriers, thus making gender equality a reality in the field of aviation. This also includes examining potential mechanisms to improve work-life balance.
  • By increasing visibility and outreach to younger girls through the existence of role models: Young girls did not consider or even imagine becoming a pilot because they rarely if ever, saw a woman piloting a plane. People need to have role models and to see people who look like them for it to occur to them to strive for a career in such an area.
  • By providing support for women while they are students, trainees, and employees.
  • By addressing retention in addition to recruitment: Further analysis is needed to perceive why women’s numbers are dropping after training. While recruitment efforts can be improved by increasing awareness and role models, on the other hand, retention seems to be an issue that also needs to be addressed (e.g. difficult schedule and lifestyle).
  • By providing more options and flexibility in scheduling and structure so that work has more work/life balance.
  • By reinforcing leadership and organisational support: ensuring the existence of role models, including a mentoring system, as well as promoting diversity training which addresses attitudes, practices, and approaches to working with people who are different than yourself.
  • And, by changing cultural perceptions: If a culture has been traditionally male-oriented, it will be difficult for diversity to take hold. Cultural attitudes need to change in order to open up more paths for the career development of previously underrepresented occupations.