The aviation industry faces a significant gender gap

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The aviation industry faces a significant gender gap
Source: Twitter @UNWTO
Tue September 14, 2021

A study reveals worrying data regarding equal opportunities


A new report by Oliver Wyman and the International Association of Aviation Women (IAWA) has revealed that 59% of women working in leadership positions in aviation have considered leaving the industry. 

The study surveyed 450 front-line, mid-level and senior professionals to understand why there are so few women in senior positions and what needs to be done to reverse this situation. 

The survey found that aviation has made no progress in addressing its gender gap at the top, with one-third of the women surveyed reporting that it takes them longer to reach leadership positions relative to their peer group. In comparison, 92% of the men who were consulted progressed faster or at the same rate as their peer group.

"The aviation industry is losing critical leadership talent," said Oksana Bardygula, Vice President of Oliver Wyman. "We are already at a tipping point with a talent shortage in the industry in various fields, from pilots to mechanics. Increasing the visibility of women and their leadership roles is vital to expanding the talent pool, as well as gaining access to innovation, creativity and risk management that would provide more diverse leadership. "

"Women report that they are struggling throughout their careers in today's aviation culture," added Bobbi Wells, IAWA President. "Our study shows that, compared to men in the industry, women report more negative experiences, slower career advancement, and fewer opportunities to take on senior or challenging roles. It is time for aviation leaders to change these dynamics if we want to attract and retain the most talented workers, regardless of gender. "

The study focused on identifying areas where the industry must make significant and lasting changes to address the gender gap:

  • Scale culture change from the top: Senior leaders in aviation must commit to gender balance in leadership as a priority, build a culture that deliberately includes women, and set leadership diversity and inclusion goals that are explicitly linked to incentives.
  • Redesign systems to achieve balance: Current inclusion and diversity solutions in aviation are ineffective. Women must have a greater presence and voice in renewing aviation culture and ensuring that leadership programs address real barriers.
  • Closing the sponsorship gap: 65% of the women we surveyed have never had a sponsor. Aviation should over-invest in developing formal sponsorship programs that explicitly serve women and encourage leaders to sponsor more diverse talents. Sponsorship is critical to reaching the highest levels in aviation organizations.
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