What does a pilot look like gender bias

2 March 2015

What does a pilot look like?

Late last year, Steps undertook some street interviews as part of a research project with ENEI (the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion). We wanted to explore individual unconscious bias in action and so we asked our interviewees the simple question – ‘What does a pilot look like?’ The results made for very interesting watching – and it’s even more interesting after a recent piece of research undertaken for British Airways…

Globally only about 3% of pilots are women – that’s about 4,000 out of 130,000 pilots worldwide. British Airways employs 3,500 pilots, but only 200 are female – and that’s more than any other UK airline. There appears to be a deep seated bias, perhaps rooted in our culture through representations of pilots in the media, literature and film – which shapes our assumptions and perceptions of this occuption. Results from the recent BA survey showed that 20% of those questioned said that when growing up, only men were portrayed as pilots on TV and in films, and there were very few female role models.

So, why are there so few female pilots? You only have to Google that very question to see the popularity of the topic and the preoccupation with the next question, ‘Why is this so?’

If you’d like to read the full BBC article which makes reference to the BA research, please click here…