FINN talks gender diversity with Alia Twal, first officer with Royal Jordanian and ambassador for The Ninety-Nines, an association for female pilots.

Gender diversity in aviation is poor – in the UK, BALPA stats put the number of female pilots at just 5 per cent. The FAA has similar findings with the number of commercial pilots numbering just 6 per cent of the total. The numbers aren’t much better in other areas such as engineering.

Twal gave her views on how the industry could tackle the problem and benefit from a greater diversity within their workforces. She said: “We have to start to encourage woman when they are young by showing them examples and ‘heroes’. We have to start going to career days at school, and even from kindergarten to present the female pilot – let them see something in front of them and have an aim [to be like these female pilots when they grow up].”

“Maybe we also have to focus on the media as well,” she added. “Movies – how many people became pilots after watching Top Gun? Maybe a fighter movie with a female pilot will help to create a change.”

Middle East is “hungry for change”

Twal flies in the Middle East, which traditionally has a poor reputation for gender equality. It was only in June 2018, for example, that Saudi Arabia allowed women to hold driving licences. She said: “I think the Middle East is hungry for a change. As Alia and a female pilot in The Ninety-Nines, I’m very proud to be part of this wave of change in the Middle East. Everything is changing rapidly. There are more people that are interested in aviation. We’re working on the image for parents so they can accept their daughters as female pilots.”

“Now, with good examples of women who not just became pilots, but secured positions in management and as flight instructors ….it’s changing slowly and people are wanting their daughters to do the same.

Royal Jordanian – number nudge upwards from seven female pilots

“I am stopped every day in the airport [with people saying]: ‘Look, she’s a female pilot. You can grow up and be like her’.

“In Jordan, we have seven [female pilots] in Royal Jordanian Airlines, and we have a few female pilots that are already in the training schools. Slowly it’s changing, but we are getting there.”

On Wednesday 11th November 1030-1130am GMT the Women in Aviation & Aerospace Charter will host a virtual event to launch the new gender balance report from Korn Ferry
Find out more here

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