Lufthansa, Germany’s flagship carrier, became the first airline worldwide to join voices with the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide as it announced that it will redouble its efforts to attract more female pilots for its passenger and cargo fleet.
The airline has become aware of the common misconception among the female population that the job might not really be for women. The carrier reported that only 20 percent of all applications currently came from women and that many potential candidates obviously still believed that the job was better suited for men.
Since 2010, the grassroots movement that gave birth to the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide has been advocating that the main barrier to women’s participation in the industry is perception, not finances, and has encouraged the industry to change its image from male-only to women friendly through messaging and outreach.
Over the years, its flagship outreach initiative, Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, has welcomed more than 40,000 girls and women at aviation facilities and introduced more than 8,000 to flying in a small aircraft on four continents. Many have learned to fly or started aeronautical careers as a result.
Similarly to Lufthansa’s observation, an exit poll conducted by the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide among participants of the 2013 Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week found that more than 76% of the participants had never thought of seeking information about aviation activities before hearing of Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week. The experience led more than 77% of them to consider undertaking an activity in aviation for pleasure or for a career.
“We welcome Lufthansa’s leadership among airlines as it joins our efforts to deliberately shift the message in order to grow the female pilot population,” says Mireille Goyer, Founder and President of the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide. “Our advocacy was born from the observation that years of addressing the low levels of female participation as a financial issue using scholarships have failed to move the trends and from the knowledge that numerous independent studies point to a perception issue instead.”
Lufthansa was the first airline in the world to hire a female pilot, Marga von Etzdorf, in 1928. She flew passengers on the Berlin-Breslau and Berlin-Stuttgart-Basel routes in Junkers F-13 aircraft.