The United Nations (UN) has defined gender equality as “creating the pool of talent by ensuring both men and women have equal chances and opportunities to the available resources” (UN, 2019). There are several aviation researchers and speakers who have given their words and significant explanations on whether the gender gap is inclining, declining or at a halt. Jim et al (2006) found that different departments of aviation lack gender diversity. Similarly, Elizabeth et al (2011) stated “the industry is still behind the times by not being able to fulfil the equality targets”. According to the International Air Transport Agency (IATA), most women in aviation are involved in desk levels, marketing related customer facing roles among which less than 5% are in senior positions such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and about 4-5% of women in the technical operations (IATA, 2018). Mylene Scholnick, an ex-member of International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) further supported by adding “the percentage of women in senior positions has dramatically fall away, so gender equality is not an awareness issue anymore but a need to accelerate the action” (IAWA, 2018). These evidences show that much changes have not been occurred in gender inequality since past few years.
On the other hand, the researchers have also illustrated that the future of gender equality will be promising and prove to provide chances to both male and female equally in the aviation sector (Jane 2014). The IATA released the rough estimation of the future passenger flow in 2018. It’s forecast predicts staggering number of 8.2 billion passengers by 2037 (IATA, 2018). With this, further employment opportunities will be produced and be available across the aerospace and airline industries of aviation. The Royal Aeronautical Society as well indicated that the future of women in the industry at senior levels will be high as there are evidences that the gender disparities will be decreasing (RAeS, 2018).
In the present time, the aerospace industry is much more advance than the airline industry in terms of gender equality. The female CEOs of two famous airlines industries easyJet and Kuwait Airways were replaced by men in 2017. Moreover, in a meeting at Heathrow, the CEO of Qatar Airways left a sexist remark on only a man being able to run an airline business (BBC, 2018). Richard Branson from Virgin was seen trying to touch and leer on female flight attendants which can make up as a bad optic (Express, 2019). This reflects that even in 21st century, the prosperous part of the world prevents female to take over a senior executive position. It can be referred as the closed shops for females. However, it doesn’t imply that the aviation industry is fully blocked by the boys’ club, but it depends on women’s interest as well (Skift, 2019). The aerospace industry, on the other hand has involved tremendous amount of work in terms of gender equality. The aircraft manufacturing companies like Airbus and Boeing has women initiatives in their group. They are pushing and encouraging the women to get involved and have created a pool of talents within aviation industry. Many female students are being invited and special quotas have been opened to make their involvement even higher. Thus, it can be said that the development for gender equality within aviation is being carried on in a slow pace but if more organisations come forward then greater changes can be made.