For many years the Airline industry has been recognized as highly male-dominated and male-centred industry. The role played by female employees has not been worth mentioning. Most of the female employees in the industry are visible mostly in cabins and customer service counters. All most all core jobs have been performed by males. However today the entire scenario is slowly changing and the industry is undergoing dynamic changes.
The industry is inviting the services of female employees into their core operations like aircraft engineering, flying, etc. Even women are showing high interest to pursue their careers as aircraft engineers and pilots.
The push for increased numbers of women in the commercial airline pilot pool is continuing to grow, with initiatives and scholarships being launched in various parts of the world. Women in Aviation International India (WAI) are front and centre in the drive. Women in Aviation International India are a nonprofit organization that works for the encouragement and advancement of women in the aviation industry not only in India but all over the world. WAI India also offers educational outreach programs to educators, aviation industry members, and young people also WAI promotes public understanding of the accomplishments and contributions of women in aviation.
Meanwhile, in India, new scholarships to help young women become commercial pilots have been announced by what may seem an unlikely benefactor. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (also known as Honda 2Wheelers India) has launched a project entitled Sapno Ki Udaan as part of the women empowerment element of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. The project will provide fully-funded scholarships to 20 young women who wish to become commercial pilots.
There are a few facts that show that the number of female pilots and engineers in India will keep rising over the past century.
As per various statistics, India has 13.4 percent of its pilot as women, which is far ahead of some developed nations, such as the UK, for instance, where only 4.77 percent of airline pilots are women. The percentage of female pilots in India is twice as high as in most Western countries, in recent years including in the United States and Australia which shows the Indian aviation industry growing rapidly. Globally, less than 6% of pilots are women, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. IndiGo has 14.9 percent of its pilots as women, far ahead of the global average of 3.2 percent, as per the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. In SpiceJet Ltd, 14% of pilots are women, and there is a mandate to grow that to 33% in the next three years, Chairman Ajay Singh said this year at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain. The company also gives women pilot daycare services and a fixed monthly flying schedule to help them with other responsibilities.
Though the environment seems to be quite positive for women still they are facing various challenges. Even after 30 years of women taking control in this industry still, passengers react with surprise and throw discouraged comments when they see a woman flying a commercial plane. There are several setbacks and hurdles to the effective growth of women in the Indian aviation industry. Various airlines have a support system in place and take initiative for women's encouragement in this industry. For instance, IndiGo has a creche at its facilities across the country even before it became law to provide childcare facilities mandatorily.
Society is changing and there is more acceptance of working in the aviation sector.
Today, Indian women want to become engineers, pilots in the aviation industry and more benefits await them such as union-mandated equal pay, a safe workplace, daycare services, and a booming aviation sector and a successful and satisfying career. So, as one celebrates Women's Day 2020, here is hoping that more women continue to join the aviation ecosystem, not just as flight crew, but as engineers, managers, designers and a lot more. And it is up to the aviation ecosystem, including the airframe manufacturers and the airlines, to be a part of their rise, by creating more opportunities in this ever-growing global industry. For once you've tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.