EasyJet airline has pledged to increase the number of female pilots, setting a new target after receiving an increasing number of applications from women.
The airline said it wanted 20 per cent of new cadets by 2020 to be female, after reaching a two-year target in its recruitment drive after just 12 months.
However, EasyJet has said that this is “a more stretching target” of ensuring that 20 per cent of new entrant cadet pilots are female by 2020, which it said would mean EasyJet recruiting around 50 female pilots year.
Presently, the airline has 164 female pilots in total, of whom 62 are captains, making up about 14 per cent of the world’s total.
The International Society of Women Airline Pilots says that only three per cent of commercial airline pilots worldwide are female and only 450 of them have achieved the rank of captain.
Rival airline BA has also been trying to recruit more female pilots in the past two years. A survey it conducted into why there were so few women applying to fly found reasons ranging from a belief women could only be cabin crew to being told flying was a man’s job.
Carolyn McCall, EasyJet’s chief executive stold the BBC’s Today programme that the industry needed to work on stereotyping.
“I still think there are quite firm attitudes about who flies aircraft – and that’s from passengers, even female passengers,”
“There is a very deep perception here, which is that women don’t fly planes.”
In October 2015, Easyjet set up The Amy Johnson initiative, named after the first female pilot to fly solo from the UK to Australia.
The programme set out with the aim of doubling the number of female new entrant pilots to 12 per cent over two years.
With over 600 applicants, the airline hit the target in its first year, recruiting 33 new female pilots who have either started to fly with EasyJet or are assigned to courses due to start in the coming weeks.
McCall also said the new 20 per cent target marked a “long-term strategy” and hoped it will lead to the airline both recruiting and retaining many more female pilots over the years.
“Fifty years ago almost all professions were dominated by men and over the last five decades there has been significant progress in almost every sector with women entering and attaining senior positions in professions like law, medicine, education, finance and politics.
“However, the proportion has not changed for pilots and it is hard to think of another high-profile profession where women are so underrepresented.
“We would like to understand why this is and to do what we can to redress the balance. We have been encouraged by the success of our Amy Johnson initiative since we launched it in October 2015 and the results so far suggest that the demand from women to become pilots is there.