Why Aren’t There More Women in the Aviation Industry?

June 28, 2024

There is significant gender disparity in the aviation industry, particularly among airline pilots. According to a recent report from the Women in Aviation board, “women make up less than 20% of the workforce in most aviation occupations and only 4.6% of air transport pilot jobs.” The shortage of pilots globally, as well as the many factors attributing to the underrepresentation of women in aviation, has prompted the FAA, major airlines, and educational institutions to focus on increasing gender diversity in the pilot training pipeline.

Limitations Faced by Women in the Aviation Industry

There are several barriers within the aviation industry that prevent women from seeking roles as pilots. Discrimination can affect hiring practices, making it challenging for women to break into the industry, and decisions can be influenced by both conscious and unconscious biases. Because there have been so few female pilots, aspiring women aviators lack role models to inspire and guide them, and the younger generation may find it challenging to envision themselves as pilots. As this role is typically targeted towards men, it becomes harder to attract new female candidates and a lack of support system for women pilots can be discouraging for those in and entering the field.

Financial barriers also contribute significantly to the low representation of women in pilot careers. Flight training can be expensive, including fees for flight hours, instructor time, and certifications. For career changers, women have faced income disparities across all industries. Similarly, unequal pay affects not only initial training costs but also ongoing expenses like recurrent training and type ratings.

Work-life balance also plays a significant role in the decision to pursue piloting. Pilot schedules can be unpredictable, involving long hours, overnight stays, and irregular shifts. For women who are primary caregivers or have significant family responsibilities, this lifestyle can be challenging to maintain. Some women may choose to prioritize a more reliable work schedule and stationary location over a career that requires extensive travel.

Efforts to Increase Gender Diversity in Aviation

With many factors leading to a shortage of women pilots, initiatives to encourage women to pursue careers in aviation are essential for establishing a new norm. To better support the multifaceted roles of women in the aviation field, the FAA has established a detailed plan to increase outreach and offerings to women.

By collecting more comprehensive occupational data, this gender gap can be better understood and addressed. A supportive and inclusive environment that encourages women to pursue aviation careers must be prioritized in the industry, which can be bolstered in part by analyzing this data and highlighting successful female pilots as role models.

More financial assistance and scholarships should be made available to support women in flight training, as well as professional development groups for women to connect with others in the field. Schools and colleges should promote aviation as a viable career choice for women and work to raise awareness about professional opportunities and pathways. According to Forbes, “the Federal Aviation Administration is awarding 32 U.S. educational institutions $13.5 million in grants to address the aviation skills shortfall, attracting students to pursue careers as pilots and maintenance technicians.” Through dedicated efforts like this, the gender gap is being addressed for more equity in aviation education and the workplace.

Airlines should establish mentorship and outreach programs to attract new candidates and retain women throughout their careers. Experienced pilots can provide valuable insights, advice, and encouragement to new recruits, as well as help to build professional networks that foster knowledge sharing and career growth.

Efforts to address work-life balance through flexible scheduling, family-friendly policies, and supportive workplace environments can also help retain more female pilots. Similarly, women should earn equal pay for equal work and be provided with comprehensive benefits packages, including parental leave. 

Advancing the Aviation Frontier at Capitol Tech

Capitol Technology University recognizes the pilot shortage and the need to address the gender gap across all industries. Forbes states that “Boeing’s 2023-2042 Pilot and Technical Output Report shows North American aviation companies must recruit 429,000 critical operations staff, including 127,000 pilots and 125,000 technicians,” in order to meet this need. Capitol Tech offers a comprehensive Aviation Professional Pilot program that will set you on the right track to becoming a successful pilot. Our inclusive program is designed to train aviation professionals to fill high-demand roles, as well as meet the future needs of this evolving industry. You will gain hands-on flight training with our in-house flight simulator, and a firm foundation in flight operations, airport operations, safety, risk management, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations, certifications, aviation technologies, and piloting skills, as well as aeronautical science, aerodynamics, weather, and navigation. 

To learn more, contact our Admissions team or request information today.