Although the statistics are improving slower than desired, the presence of a higher number of women as pilots is becoming a reality. More than a century after Raymonde de Laroche, on March 8th, 1910, became the first woman pilot to be licensed worldwide, there are still relatively few women piloting airplanes.
According to the latest statistics from the International Society of Women Aircraft Pilots (ISWAP), the number of women pilots worldwide accounts for just over 5% of the total number of people in this profession. Thanks in part to social networks, more and more stories are becoming visible; something fundamental for girls to dream of becoming female airline pilots, scientists or mathematicians.
With a rate of 13%, India is the country with the most female pilots, leaving the global average far behind. The Asian country ranks first in the world, ahead of major powers such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Only 7% of Air France’s pilots are female; Lufthansa and KLM it’s 6%, as reported by Euronews.
There was this inner voice inside of me, this really strong inner voice which used to say ‘Zoya, it’s not impossible.’Zoya Agarwal, AirIndia captain
Zoya Agarwal was in 2013 the youngest female pilot in India to fly a Boeing-777. She began flying for AirIndia in 2004, back when there were only a few female pilots, reports Euronews. India now has the highest rate of female air captains in the world.
For Agarwal, however, the path was not easy. She grew up in a very conservative family. “Where I came from, I was not even given permission to have such wild thoughts of becoming a pilot,” Agarwal told Euronews. “My mom cried the first time I told her that I wanted to become a pilot. And she said, “Why has God given us a dysfunctional daughter?’”
Although India is a country that drags great structural gender inequalities, in this particular case the country’s airlines are taking measures to facilitate the reconciliation in the sector due to the high demand for pilots by the colossal economic growth (22%) experienced in recent years.
Childcare services, relocations for pregnant women or salary expectations without a gender gap are some of the measures that have led to an increase in the number of female airline pilots. In just 5 years, the proportion of female pilots at the Bombay Flying Club, the most important school in India, has grown from 10% to 25%.