The US Federal Aviation Administration on 9 October announced the establishment of an advisory board to find ways to boost the recruitment of women into the aviation industry, nearly four months after a congressional deadline to appoint board members.
Encouraging women to join aerospace could be vital to address a potential worldwide pilot shortage, so Congress last October passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that mandated the creation of the Women in Aviation Advisory Board.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the FAA will accept nominations through 29 October for qualified candidates to serve on the board through the Federal Register. The nomination portal is availableonline.
“Our nation is facing a shortage of pilots and aviation professionals; there are great opportunities in this sector, and we want to encourage more women to enter these exciting professions," Chao says in a statement.
The board will analyze industry trends and coordinate efforts among airlines, nonprofits and associations to support women pursuing aviation careers. These efforts will include scholarships, mentorship and outreach programs.
Convincing students to pursue aerospace careers through STEM fields at a young age will be a challenge, FAA administrator Steve Dickson says in a statement.
“We need pilots, mechanics, engineers and many other professionals to enter the aviation profession pipeline, and I look forward to working with the secretary to boost the number of aviation professionals and keep our nation’s aviation industry strong and vital,” Dickson says.
The FAA is also accepting qualified nominations through 30 October to the Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force to recommend initiatives encouraging high school students to enter aviation careers. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 also mandated the creation of that task force. The nomination portal for that task force is availableonline.
Women who join the aviation sector have difficulty advancing their careers, making retention a challenge within the industry. It could take decades for women to achieve parity with men in senior executive positions in the aviation industry, according to a FlightGlobal survey in June of carriers and groups that feature in FlightGlobal's top 100 World Airline Rankings by 2018 revenue-passenger-kilometres.
Of the 600 senior executive roles surveyed in June – covering CEO, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, chief commercial officer, chief information officer and HR director – some 76, or 13%, were taken by women. This compares with 72, or 12%, at the same point in 2018; and 65, or 11%, at the same point in 2017.
The survey showed that across the top 100 airlines, none have a majority of female incumbents in the surveyed positions. Only three airlines achieve a 50:50 split: Air Canada, South African Airways and VietJet Air.