It’s Women’s History Month, and there are several official themes for this year’s observance, such as:
  • Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress (United Nations)
  • Inspire Inclusion (International Women’s Day)
  • Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (National Women’s History Alliance’s theme for Women’s History Month)

In honor and celebration of these important and relevant themes, we’re focused on a critical issue – the gender gap in aviation and freight transportation. 

Gender Gap Overview – World Economic Forum

The global gender gap score in 2023 for all 146 countries included in this edition stands at 68.4% closed… At the current rate of progress, it will take 131 years to reach full parity.

– World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2023

The Gender Gap in Aviation and Air Cargo

Did you know that women make up less than 20% of almost all sectors in the aviation workforce? The Women in Aviation Advisory Board, established by Congress in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 to address the significant underrepresentation of women in the fields of aviation, provided 55 recommendations to foster female careers in aviation.

Read the WIAAB Report.

“We all have the power to influence and inspire.”

-Yvette Rose, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Rulemaking, FAA; former VP of Cargo Airline Association (Aviation International News, March 2022)

Women in Aviation Advisory Board:  Key Recommendations

women in aviation advisory board report key recommendations

The recommendations underscore the dire need for a cultural shift to make an impact on the recruitment, retention, advancement, and data representation of females in aviation.  

“In addition to recommendations specific to culture change, culture underlies most, if not all, of the Board’s recommendations on recruitment, retention, advancement, and data. Further, just as the impact of many of the barriers extends beyond when women first experience them, many of the recommendations positively impact more than one phase of a woman’s journey. The scope and benefits of some of the recommendations also are not limited to women; these recommendations improve the representation of women in aviation by improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of all talent.”

Breaking Barriers for Women in Aviation: Flight Plan for the Future
WIAAB Recommendations Report (March, 2022)

Look around you, in your workplace and in your community. Tune in to the cultural nuances that still exist – the ones that are clear and obvious, the ones we take for granted and the ones that go unnoticed. Imagine a cultural transition that demonstrates to boys and girls that traditional gender roles in aviation are just a story society tells us. A message that GENDER DIVERSITY sparks innovation and progress is the foundation for this cultural shift, and the responsibility falls to each of us as air cargo stakeholders to further it.”

The Gender Gap in Freight Transportation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 1.5 million trucking jobs in December 2023 [Source: BLS Industries at a Glance]. The Women in Trucking Association’s 2023 WIT Index published the percentage of women holding key roles in the transportation industry:

  •  7.5% of technicians
  • 12% of the commercial driver workforce
  • Averaging just over 30% of C-suite executives and company leaders
  • Approximately 40% of safety professionals and dispatchers
  • Almost 75% of human resources and talent management

Interestingly enough, there exists little pay gap between men and women as a commercial driver; however, there are several barriers to entry for women, particularly when it comes to bias and lack of access to job opportunities and training; safety on the road; and the stressors of long haul trucking on personal well-being and family life. That’s where organizations like the Air and Expedited Motor Carriers Association (AEMCA), Women in Trucking Association, and many others come into play – to educate, advocate, and equalize the industry.

The data on female representation across employment in aviation, air cargo, and freight transportation helps to create a clearer picture of gender equity today, and it teaches us there’s still work to be done. The Women in Aviation Advisory Board’s recommendations include better methods to gather and analyze high quality data, and tools like the Women in Trucking Index are helping us make progress in this endeavor. As mentioned below by Federal Aviation Administration official Steve Dickson, advocating for a diverse workforce is a necessary endeavor if we want to ensure safety, innovation, and success.

“A diverse workforce is best equipped for the job of ensuring the safety of an increasingly complex aerospace world. The last thing we at the FAA can afford is groupthink. Diversity makes us stronger…Women are essential to the continued safety, innovation, and success of this industry.” 

– FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson

The airfreight and transportation industry is one of talented women and men, and Women’s History Month points our focus to the challenges of gender equity, imposter syndrome (a recent and popular topic at AirCargo 2024), and other common societal and workplace obstacles. As the themes for Women’s History Month 2024 suggest, we must invest in women and advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. With the help of colleagues, organizations like Airforwarders Association; Women in Trucking Association; and Women in Aviation International, and special events like the Women’s Networking Event at AirCargo 2024, the foundation for the next generation of women in aviation, air cargo and freight transportation will be stronger and more informed.

If you’re inspired to get involved, please learn more at the associations listed above or contact us at the AirCargo Conference for more ideas.