UWE Bristol team wins Impact prize for work on empowering women in aviation

Media Relations Team, 03 November 2022

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Head shots of Ana Lopes, Professor Susan Durbin and Stella Warren.

Professor Susan Durbin and her team have won the ESRC 2022 Celebrating Impact Prize for their research into the under-representation of women in the UK aviation and aerospace industry.

Their work includes the development of alta, an industry-wide mentoring scheme that supports women to build their careers in a traditionally male-dominated profession.

Susan Durbin (c) and her colleagues Ana Lopes (l) and Stella Warren (r) picked up the £10,000 prize in the category of Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact at the awards event, which was live streamed from the Royal Society in London on 2 November 2022. 

“I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded the ESRC Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact Award on behalf of the alta team in recognition of the impact of our work across academia and industry,” said Susan, who is a professor in human resource management at UWE Bristol.

“Alta connects women globally and provides a practical means for them to support other women through mentoring, empowering them to reach their full potential.

“I would like to thank the ESRC for having the insight to fund the project and for recognising alta through this award, the alta team for their passion and commitment to the project, and UWE Bristol for enabling me to work with the team to make alta the success that it is today. The prize money will enable us to reach out to even more women across the industry.”

The prize is issued by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK’s largest funder of economic social behavioural and human data science.

The competition, now in its tenth year, recognises and rewards ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved impact through exceptional research, knowledge exchange activities, collaborative partnerships, and engagement with different communities.

Part of the UWE Bristol researchers’ work included a major report, 'What is the future for gender diversity in the pilot trainer role?' (PDF), released in March 2022, which shines a light on the significant problem of gender discrimination and the lack of gender diversity amongst pilots in the airline industry, focusing on the airline pilot trainer role.

The joint report by the University and the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) considered survey responses from more than 700 airline pilots worldwide, 750 personal testimonials and eight hours of focus groups.

Launched in 2019, alta is an online mentoring platform that sets out to help professional women working in the aerospace and aviation industry progress their careers by connecting them with female mentors in the sector.

The platform is part of the alta mentoring scheme which began in 2015 and is a partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the Royal Aeronautical Society, Airbus, Little Blue Private Jets Ltd., and the Royal Air Force, with additional support from Boeing UK, GKN, Collins Aerospace and Raytheon.