Advancing Gender Diversity in Aviation: Insights from the Second Global Aviation Gender Summit

Victoire Jarcin by Victoire Jarcin | Aug 23, 2023

Madrid, Spain

From 2–5 July, ACI World participated in the Second Global Aviation Gender Summit of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This three-day Summit was held in partnership with international organizations: the European Commission, the International Labor Organization, the International Transport Forum, and finally the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Summit brought together governments and industry players, aligning their efforts to tackle a common challenge: the need for a more inclusive and diverse aviation landscape.

In this blog post, I journey through the key highlights of the summit, exploring the discussions and collective initiatives toward gender parity and women empowerment within the aviation sector.

Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of the Government of Spain; Image: ICAO

Together, we can contribute to transforming the aerospace sector, with defined actions and objectives, and serve as inspiration to move forward definitively.

Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of the Government of Spain

Collaboration and interconnectivity are central to the aviation industry, an industry that bridges countries, cultures, people, and trade. Aviation holds immense significance as a driving force behind both national and global economies, contributing significantly to the realization of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Among these goals, Goal number 5 has a prominent role – aiming to achieve gender equality and empower women. This global objective entails taking proactive steps to eliminate barriers and practices that restrict opportunities for women, promoting gender parity in leadership roles and decision-making at all levels.

As the aviation industry propels forward, its commitment to collaboration and inclusivity remains paramount. In line with this commitment, the ICAO has passed a resolution A41-26: ICAO Gender Equality Programme promoting the participation of women in the global aviation sector. The resolution reaffirms ICAO’s commitment to enhancing gender equality and the advancement of women’s development aiming to achieve an aspirational goal of 50-50 (women-men) by 2030 at all professional levels of employment in the global aviation sector.

The gender gap: where we are now?

In his opening remarks, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano drew attention to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, which projected a staggering timeline of additional 132 years to fully achieve the full gender an parity.

Failing to address gender inequalities doesn’t just carry social consequences; it also comes with a hefty economic price tag. If we continue to overlook the disparities, the global economy could lose 1 trillion dollars of GDP by the year 2030.

On the way to gender equality: where to start?

The truth is, we can’t change what we can’t see. We need to understand the current gender parity situation within the industry to lay down the purposeful course of action. Equipped with this knowledge, we can start the journey towards a gender-inclusive aviation industry.

To get a comprehensive understanding of these issues at hand, Ms. Candace Mc. Graw, ACI World Vice Chair, the CEO of the Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport and a very active advocate of gender parity, introduced a survey to capture data and identify key issues addressed by Summit attendees. This initiative opened yet another avenue for collaboration by weaving in diverse perspectives and voices.

During the summit the UK Department for Transport, ACI World, the International Air Transport Association, and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations held a side workshop focusing on future aviation skills. The workshop was opened by Dr. Rannia Leontaridi, Director General for Civil Aviation Department for Transport of the United Kingdom.

The aim of the workshop was to increase aviation skills ambition globally and to support ICAO in achieving its objectives, particularly on gender equity, but also more broadly on building the current and future aviation and aerospace workforce. The participants discussed and shared recommendations and good practices based on 5 problem statements addressed below:

  1. There is insufficient diversity in the aviation and aerospace industry.
  2. The industry faces multiple challenges to attract potential new employees.
  3. Potential employees are not sufficiently aware of the range and types of jobs available across the industry.
  4. The industry is not sufficiently competitive with other comparable sectors on pay and work conditions.
  5. The sector is not sufficiently prepared to meet the needed skill transformation to accommodate digitalization and automation.

Aviation calls to action: united effort required

Gender equality in aviation is not just a concept, it is a driver for sustainable development for the whole international civil aviation sector.

Gender equality creates a safe, welcoming, and supporting environment that is essential for a robust workforce and tackling existing labour challenges. The realization of gender equality relies on the resolute commitment of industry leaders. Leaders serve as role models: if they strongly promote diversity at all levels, they send a powerful message to younger generations of employees, empowering them to contribute to change. The influence of leaders extends far beyond inspiration. Leaders should actively help create policies that steer the course toward gender equality with the support of the sufficient resources needed.

To address the attraction and retention of aviation workers and make progress on breaking the gender gap, the Second Global Aviation Gender Summit culminated in a Call to Action including the creation of the UK-led Global Aviation Skills Taskforce.

Envisioned as a dynamic force for change, the Global Aviation Skills Taskforce aims to enrich the skills of the aviation workforce, cultivate diversity within the sector, and inspire the next generation to pursue careers in aviation.

By utilizing the power of collaboration between States and industry players, the Taskforce will set priorities and produce deliverables paving the way to economic prosperity of the aviation industry and economic growth overall. As Baroness Vere of Norbiton, UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, aptly puts it, “Achieving these goals will require united efforts and international collaboration to attract top talent and build a diverse and resilient workforce, effectively overcoming future challenges.”

Victoire Jarcin, Assistant Manager, Safety, Security and Operations, and Thomas Romig, Vice President Safety, Security & Operations, ACI World, participating in the Second Global Aviation Gender Summit. Image: ICAO

In conclusion, the Second Global Aviation Gender Summit highlighted the urgency and importance of promoting gender equality within the aviation industry. The Summit emphasized the need for collaboration among States and industry stakeholders to address gender disparities and attract, retain, and upskill women in aviation.

The launch of the Global Aviation Skills Taskforce further signifies the industry’s commitment to inspiring the next generation, promoting diversity, and unlocking the economic potential of aviation. With united efforts and visionary leadership, the aviation sector can pave the way towards a workforce that’s both inclusive and adaptable. In doing so, it becomes a driving force behind sustainable growth and comprehensive progress.

Victoire Jarcin

Victoire Jarcin

ACI World Assistant Manager Airport Safety, Security, and Operations
Victoire Jarcin is ACI World's Assistant Manager of Airport Safety, Security, and Operations. A French national, Victoire has recently completed a bachelor’s degree in political science and has briefly worked at ICAO in the field of security and facilitation. She actively contributes to DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) efforts and the future of the workforce in aviation. Additionally, she provides support in various cross-cutting topics within the airport operations sector.
2 articles
Share This