Research of the industry’s stakeholders Tweets reveals changing attitudes.
On the first day of the 9th annual Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) is releasing of a global study based on Twitter’s message archives that reveals changing attitudes towards women in the air and space industry.
On March 8, 1910, Raymonde de Laroche became the world’s first woman to obtain a pilot license. It is the first irrefutable historical record of women’s role in the air and space industry on the global scale. It marks the formal entry of women in the industry.
It was not until 1975 that the United Nations selected March 8 as International Women’s Day – a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
Over the past few months, iWOAW researched the largest industry organizations in various sectors and their pattern of communication on Twitter over the past decade. The study reveals changing attitudes and trends.
In late 2009, Mireille Goyer, an airline-rated pilot was stunned to discover that not one single industry association, organization, or museum was planning to celebrate the Centennial of the first first female pilot license on March 8, 2010 – a sharp contrast for the widespread celebrations of the first airplane flight in 2003. She could not find anyone planning to celebrate the better known International Women’s Day either.The search through Twitter’s archives show that major industry stackholders did not post any women-oriented messages on March 8, 2010. Only one of the top 25 global industry stakeholders did in 2014.
Perhaps more surprising, the ICAO – aviation branch of the United Nations – did not post any women-relevant message on March 8, 2014 but did so in 2018, without acknowledging women’s aviation milestone on that day. It also continues to refuse to ask its member countries to publish their gender statistics despite multiple requests by iWOAW to do so.
It was not only until March 8, 2018, that the practice of acknowledging women on March 8 became more widespread in the industry – 17 out of 25 did post a women-relevant Tweet but only one acknowledged March 8 as an historical aviation milestone for women.
Since 2010, the annual grassroots pressure generated by more than 10,000 aviation enthusiasts and professionals introducing thousands of enthusiastic women and girls to the multiple facets of the industry as part of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week seems to have driven the change.
Sadly, resistance to increasing the number of women in the industry continues to be strong. Some stakeholders choose to deflect pressure with delaying actions by waiting for additional studies or restricting their outreach efforts to small groups of very young girls who will not enter the industry for another decade or two.
Regardless, iWOAW’s research show that attitudes are shifting. It also shows that the industry remains heavily male-dominated at the executive level but Boards of Directors composition is becoming more gender-balanced.
“The shift in attitudes within the industry since 2010 is noticeable.” says Mireille Goyer, iWOAW’s Founder and President. “We are tremendously proud of the thousands of individuals across the Globe who answer our call to action and demonstrate annually what it takes to change the face of aviation by introducing thousands of enthusiastic women and girls to the multi facets of the industry, hands-on.”