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Airlines and women (not) in leadership on International Women's Day

Celebrating women in airlines in 2020 on International Women's Day, 8-Mar-2020.

Back in 2010, CAPA conducted a study on the state of airline gender diversity around the world, asking “why don’t women run airlines?” We come back for a re-look every year at this time.

That study a decade ago demonstrated that 18 airlines around the world were led by women, noting that a “velocity of change” was needed. Since then CAPA has conducted a number of panel discussions on the topic at its Summits around the world.

Fast forward to today, the bad news is that the number of female airline CEOs hasn’t improved at all over the past decade and in fact has diminished. Today, only 12 airlines currently have a female in the role of CEO, president or managing director. 

That is not a fact that the industry can be proud of. There are continuous assertions by senior figures in airlines of the obvious need to embrace the skills that half the population has to offer.

Certainly, there is more to the wider issue of women in airlines than just the top job.

But as a lightning rod for broader gender representation in the airline industry, there is no more visible indicator of progress we have made.

Sadly there is little indication we have made any at all.

At the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Dec-2019, we again looked at the issue in a panel led by Natasa Kazmer, Leadership Consultant, NK Consulting. 

CAPA Panel: Social Impact In The Aviation Industry – Gender Diversity, CAPA World Aviation Summit Dec-2019

NOTE: If this video does not appear on your viewer, please click here: Social Impact In The Aviation Industry – Gender Diversity

This is a perennial topic at CAPA events. A selection of the panel discussions appears on CAPA TV, including:

Shattering The Ceiling – The Rise Of Women In Asian Aviation

Why Don’t Women Run Airlines? 

CAPA's reports on Women in Airlines

CAPA has also produced a large number of reports on the topic over the years, some of which can be found here:

Why don't women run airlines? (2010)

Why don’t women run airlines? Part 2 (2010)

Why don’t women run airlines? Of quotas, women's networks and mentors (2011)

Why don’t women run airlines? Part 1: 94% of airlines are led by men (2015)

Why don’t women run airlines? Part 2: What do women do? A better corporate culture needed (2015)

Women airline pilots: a tiny percentage, and only growing slowly (2018)

As another International Women's Day arrives, CAPA continues to agitate for and encourage all in the airline industry to rethink how this sad situation has been allowed to persist for so long.

It's not just sad. It's downright foolish. It is certainly not a situation that can be allowed to continue for another decade!

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