CAPA: Women wanted!


Happy International Women's Day 2019 - except in airline management. On this day, we make a plea: Why don’t women run airlines?

It is one thing to recognise that gender imbalance is in no-one’s best interests. But shifting the status quo is more than a little troublesome, especially in an industry which is still embedded in a technical and operational environment.

The range of options, from full-frontal onslaught through to much more subtle trajectories, offers greater hope than in the past. Or does it? Imposed quotas are controversial, informal and formal women’s networks are spreading quickly, but if there is one area where unanimity seems likely, it is in the formalisation of mentoring as a means to aiding women to access formerly male-only domains.

We conducted the first of several surveys on women in aviation management roles, back in 2010. Then, there were 15 women airline CEOs around the world. Today, that number has....diminished.

CAPA is constantly searching for some gender diversity at our airline events around the world. If you know a woman in a senior airline role and willing to speak, please, please recommend her to us!

The airline industry is notorious for its “boysy” silhouette

It is a business which revolves around big boys’ toys, engineering and industry regulation. The only areas where women have a large role is at check-in and serving in-flight meals. At least that is the perception, and one which was pretty much accurate until well into the 1990s.

Whether it is in fact all that different from other sectors in its gender mix is another issue.

But this industry is a different place from where it was just 10 years ago. The big boys’ toys have given way to a customer facing, consumer-driven business where humanity skills are gaining ascendancy over engineering.

Amid massive attitudinal and structural change in a turbulent decade, the industry’s accelerated evolution has done much to open doors for women. The result should presumably be that women play a much greater role in the newer, usually low cost, airlines. Legacy airlines meanwhile are apparently little changed over recent decades. These generalisations are broadly correct.

We seem to be retreating when it comes to numbers of airline CEOs

When we conducted our first global study, in 2010, we were able to track down 15 women CEOs of airlines around the world.

Today, there are almost certainly - less!

Wanted: women to speak at CAPA events

CAPA holds some 20 high level industry events around the world each year and, while we have been able to track down some wonderful women speakers, we're still greatly confined by our boysy electorate.

So, in our small way, in celebrating International Women's Day, this is a call out for any women management leaders to help guide our discussions. If you know one - or more - please let us know.

We all still have a lot to learn.

If you can help us out - please contact Corinne Hitching

And if you'd like to read a bit more from some of our research and discussions on the topics over the years, please have a look here:

Why don't women run airlines?

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

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

Then our second series:

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

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

More recent

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


Shattering The Ceiling – The Rise Of Women In Asian Aviation

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