Adopting a broad EDI initiative in a specialised working environment

How the pandemic highlighted EDI issues within the aviation sector

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Key Information:

Date and time
Thu 09 February 2023
14:00 - 15:30
6X269, Frenchay Campus, Further info
Sue Durbin
Booking required


This event has been cancelled.


This talk will focus upon the unique issues and barriers facing female pilots when joining and staying in this profession.

It is clear that sometimes broad equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) practices or even employment law cannot help to protect the valuable work that is done in this area. More initiatives geared towards understanding uniquely skilled workforces are therefore required before change can become effective and the movement towards a critical mass of 30% can occur.

Some of these initiatives will be highlighted during this talk, alongside a discussion about how we can bring the EDI focus back into aviation.

The aviation industry

Aviation is an industry which is relatively new and that has made huge progress over the last century in both technological advances and passenger comfort. The timeline started with the invention of powered flight to aircraft today being able to carry almost 800 passengers across the globe. To date, in contrast, very little progress has been made in making some of the roles in aviation accessible and inclusive to those who want a career in this area.

Women in particular make up very small percentages of the technical front line staff, ie pilots and engineers, yet among the cabin crew workforce originally this was exclusively young female staff. This part of aviation is now changing with some companies having 4:6 ratio of men to women for their cabin crew. When will this be the case for pilots?

What forces are therefore at work in the pilot community that means only globally, 5% of pilots are female, with the exception of India where female pilots make up 15% of the commercial pilot population. There is now a drive to understand what the factors are and how we can change this. The pandemic, ironically provided us with a standstill moment where almost 93% of the pilot community were grounded allowing access to this group. During this stressful time, several pieces of research were carried out with the focus on women in aviation and some specifically with female pilots. Valuable insights have been gained but notably it has become clear that whilst pre-pandemic there was success in addressing the EDI issues, some mainstream employment practices during the pandemic were largely disregarded in favour of old fashioned aviation practices which back in the 1950’s may have been suitable for an exclusively homogenous workforce.

Registration and tickets

  • Cost: Free
  • Attendance: Booking required


Frenchay Campus
Coldharbour Lane
BS16 1QY

Frenchay Campus map


The room is accessible by lift access. For any specific access needs please contact Sue Durbin at

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