Where Are the Women in Aviation? Skift Travel Podcast

Skift Take

Women have struggled to occupy leadership roles in the aviation industry, and we discuss the reasons why and what airlines are doing to reverse the gender gap in this episode of the Skift Travel Podcast.

A growing number of women have led major corporations in recent years — even in historically male-dominated industries. However, the aviation industry has struggled to close its gender gap in leadership roles.

Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi recently examined the issue in depth, and she discussed her findings and more in this episode of the Skift Travel Podcast with Editor-in-Chief Sarah Kopit and Head of Research Seth Borko. 

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Key Points

Persistent Gender Disparity: The aviation industry remains heavily male-dominated, particularly in leadership roles. Despite some improvements, women are significantly underrepresented in positions such as pilots and CEOs across major airlines.

Recruitment and Awareness: One of the critical challenges is the lack of awareness and recruitment efforts targeting women, especially at the college and early career stages. Initiatives like IAIDA’s “25 by 25” aim to increase female representation but face hurdles in changing industry perceptions.

Corporate and Cultural Change: Companies like JetBlue are leading with initiatives that foster diversity and inclusion, showcasing more balanced gender representation at executive levels. However, industry-wide progress remains slow, with other major airlines lagging behind in diversifying their leadership.

Motherhood Penalty and Workplace Challenges: Women in aviation often face additional challenges related to the “motherhood penalty,” where responsibilities at home can impact their careers. Balancing demanding roles like pilots or corporate executives with family obligations remains a significant issue, although some progress in supporting working mothers has been noted.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Skift Travel Podcast, Skift’s Airline Reporter Meghna Maharishi joins Seth and Sarah to discuss gender diversity in aviation. Only 8% of pilots are women, though efforts to recruit more women have seen recent improvements. The discussion covers the challenges women face in the industry, including stereotypes, motherhood penalties, and the importance of mentorship and awareness initiatives. The episode also touches on airlines’ DEI efforts and concludes with a news segment about Elliott Management Management’s stake in Southwest Airlines.

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