Why don’t women want to become airline pilots?

Statistics of women in aviation

Even though the exact numbers constantly vary, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistics show that around 4% of all American pilots are women.

According to the latest statistics from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP), there are some 9,746 female airline pilots worldwide, representing around 5% of active pilots on 34 major airlines.

Airlines with the highest number of female pilots

Using data from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISA+21) 2021 and “Women in Aviation: A Workforce Report 2021,”  a chart has been developed to see the wide-ranging representation among female pilots in major airlines.

In conclusion, only one major airline employs more than 10% of female pilots.

  • Air India’s pilot workforce has more than a 10% share of female representation among major airlines and Singapore has the least at 0.4%
  • Hawaiian Airlines leads with a 9.3% share of female pilots among North-American carriers, followed by United Airlines at 7.7%
  • Shipping and receiving companies UPS leads with a 7.7% share of female pilots and FedEx has a 4.3% share
  • Other East or Middle East carriers like Qatar Airways, Fly Emirates, Aeroloft, and Japan Airlines are not ranking high when it comes  to a diversified pilot workforce

Why don’t women want to become airline pilots?

According to Andrea Eldridge, a retired airline pilot now living in Idaho and a former designated Pilot Examiner (one authorized by the FAA to evaluate and award Private, Instrument, and Commercial pilot certificates to those who have received extensive flight instruction), the problem is the lifestyle. Since a pilot spends 50% of the time away from home on the road eating bad food and sleeping half the nights of every month in a hotel room and not their own bedroom, women are more than reluctant to take up this type of job. Simple family activities, like picking up kids after school and taking them to pizza on their birthday, can be a scheduling nightmare.

Although everybody appreciates a little structure built into their lives, airline schedules don’t work that way. They are fluid, inconsistent, and full of unwanted surprises. If there are children involved as well, it gets to be even more difficult. So, the demands of being an airline pilot are generally not conducive to traditional family life.

Another aspect is the clothing. Women don’t like to wear uniforms in general and flat shoes while dragging the bags up and down stairs through empty terminals and dark parking garages in the middle of the night.

But, I think the chief reason is the tough training and the very hard exam you must give to be awarded a flight certificate. The continuous evaluation (every six months, an evaluation that, if you fail, there’s the possibility of losing your job) is also hard to digest for women mentally.

The amount of stress and pressure on the pilot’s shoulders during a flight is also something that is not that appealing for women.


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