Here’s What Airlines Are Doing To Encourage More Women To Become Pilots

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Female pilots have soared in making contributions in commercial aviation since its start a century ago. Yet today their numbers seem to be flying low, so various organizations and commercial airlines are encouraging women to consider a career in flight.

Most recently, Alaska Airlines pledged to increase the number of female African American pilots on its airplanes by 2025.

The airline says it will partner with Sisters of the Skies to encourage the inclusion of more female African American pilots across both it and its sister carrier Horizon Airlines over the next six years.

“Today, we only have four African American female pilots at Alaska and Horizon combined, which is about 1 percent. It begs the question: why so few?” the airline wrote on its website. “Unfortunately, there isn’t a pool of qualified African American women ready to be hired. And creating this pool takes time.”

Since there’s a worldwide commercial pilot shortage, it’s all-the-more important that airlines begin to tap into new talent pools, the airline pointed out.

But Alaska Airlines isn’t alone in trying to tackle the industry’s diversity problem.

A 2017 statistics review by Women in Aviation International found that while the number of women in nearly every career aspect of this field has steadily increased, women make up only six percent of the pilot population. To raise this amount, Women In Aviation International hosts an annual Girls in Aviation Day in October in which various connected events show young girls the aspects of working in aviation.

Likewise, the International Society of Women Airline Pilots offers a scholarship assistance program for women who want to become airline pilots.

In October 2017, easyJet launched its Amy Johnson Flying Initiative to increase new female pilot recruitment; it has a 20 percent goal by 2020.

For Girls in Aviation Day, United Airlines invites girls from aviation-related partner organizations to shadow United female employees in their day-to-day roles and hear about aviation careers.

JetBlue’s JetBlue Foundation promotes aviation-related education and ignites interest in STEM programs to make aviation a top career consideration for students. Its “Fly Like a Girl” program holds events for girls ages 8-14 to teach them first-hand about above and below the wing careers.

In their 2018 Sustainability Report, Air New Zealand pledged to make half of their senior leadership team female by 2020. Their Next Generation of Female Pilots network, Women in Engineering in Maintenance and Women in Digital groups promote these career sectors to local young women.

Some airlines publicize efforts on International Women’s Day on March 8. In 2019, an all-female Ethiopian Airlines flight crew flew from Addis Ababa to Oslo; this annual happening started in 2015 with a Bangkok flight. And British Airways welcomed 100 female students to its Global Learning Academy to inspire them to become commercial airline pilots.

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