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Sarah Barry

Sarah Barry

Director of Education & Senior Lecturer Aviation
Buckinghamshire New University

Moving the Female Pilot Agenda Forward

In the last 25 years, female pilot numbers have increased but remain very low. Previous research has concentrated on factors affecting entry to the profession; this research looks at the career as a whole and compares the lifestyle and career elements of pilots and cabin crew to consider differences that may provide initial indications of the reasons behind the differential. This early research paper focuses on the outcome of the systematic literature review, where we are today and the knowledge gap.

The review will set the scene and suggest questions that should be researched further – do female pilots get promoted at the same rate as male pilots, what aspects of the career affect pilots but not cabin crew, is training set up for women to succeed, do working patterns fit male pilots better, do female pilots leave the profession sooner than male pilots. Social aspects such as women’s role in childcare alongside mental and physical load in the home, and division of workload are also considered.

The research will go on to use qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey of women currently in the occupations, as well as data on why pilots leave; this study is the first large scale study of the whole career and potentially the first to include comparison of other male-dominated industries such as medicine, shipping and rail, to ascertain why female pilot numbers remain resolutely low.

The outcome of this research is intended to inform commercial operators such as airlines, on how they can increase numbers of female pilots and address the gender pay gap that is a requirement to report in the UK.

Pilot Conference
Day 2 – Wednesday 9th November 2022
Session 7 – 1415-1545