Attracting women to the aviation industry can help meet the NGAP initiative. But first, barriers to gender equality and gender diversity must be overcome.
With the aviation industry facing a shortage of qualified professionals to fill current and future job vacancies, there is an increased focus on recruiting women into the industry. In the past, women have been for the most part, shut out of opportunities in the aviation industry. As we look to today’s millennial generation as the future of the industry, the need for a more inclusive workforce that promotes gender equality and gender diversity is ever so much more important.
Gender Inequality Still Exists in Aviation
Even today in 2020, there is a great imbalance between the sexes in the aviation industry. Historically, women have been underrepresented in aviation. A lot of this has been related to societal stereotypes, cultural norms, and personal biases.
There are four main barriers to women pursuing careers in aviation:
- An incorrect perception that women are not as strong or as competent as men and are not capable of working in the areas of ATC, flight ops, ground ops, FBO, or in the cockpit.
- A lack of female role models, instructors, and co-workers that makes women feel alienated and more likely to drop out of aviation training programs.
- Young females do not consider careers in aviation because it has been perceived as a man’s job and thus, they are not encouraged to seek such careers.
- As students, the number of females enrolled in STEM subjects is very low in comparison to their male counterparts, which makes it difficult for them to have the firm foundation of knowledge for technical aviation careers.
Promoting Gender Equality and Diversity in the Aviation Industry and Aviation Training
Bringing more women into aviation jobs, including pilots and aviation support positions in ATC, can be part of the answer in meeting the ambitious goals set by the ICAO’s Next Generations of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) Initiative.
But to be successful, change needs to come from within the industry itself.
Millennials entering the workforce are not interested in environments that are backward in their thinking or stuck in gender bias with a male-dominated environment.
In promoting a bias-free work environment, the aviation industry needs to:
- Provide transparency for salaries and bonuses
- Provide diverse mentoring programs
- Track actions versus promises
- Secure commitment from all stakeholders
- Benefit from the full pool of resources available
Aviation training facilities need to develop their training programs and infrastructure to be more welcoming to both women and men alike. This includes hiring more women as trainers and mentors to provide role models for women entering ATC training and to provide an equitable ratio of men and women in learning environments.
References and Further Reading
- More articles on Millennials and NextGen Training (2018 - today)
- Engaging Millennials into Learning Formal Methods (2018), by Nestor Catano
- Educating the next generation of aviation professionals (2020), by Uniting Aviation