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When you think of women and airplanes, your brain might conjure the image of a pretty, perky flight attendant.

Well, hold on to your complimentary beverage. Women in aviation are a g-force to be reckoned with and have been since the industry’s earliest days—Amelia Earhart, for one, springs to mind—but the days of women in flight being an interesting novelty are long gone. Now, hardly anyone does a double take at the idea of the pilot being a woman and the flight attendant a man.

So hooray for progress, but there are miles to go before the playing field is more level.

Linda Markham, CEO of Cape Air.

“Although women have made great strides entering the aviation industry, we still have a long way to go. For example, only five percent of pilots in the US are women, and that number is even lower for mechanics. I am proud to see more and more women being promoted to senior level positions, including the C-suite, however, it is still a heavily male dominated industry,” says Linda Markham, CEO of the Hyannis-based commuter airline, Cape Air, which is above the national average in female pilot recruitment and retention.

“Approximately 11 percent of our pilot group are females. I have been in the industry for 23 years, and it has been my mission to promote and support women to join Cape Air, and our numbers prove that is working,” Markham says.

In the C-Suite: Women in an Upward Trajectory

As of summer 2023, there were 28 airlines with female CEOs and that number increased in January 2024 when JetBlue announced its new CEO, Joanna Geraghty, who’d been the company’s president and COO, a position she assumed in 2018.

JetBlue is one of 191 signatory airlines who are part of IATA’s 25×2025 global initiative to change the gender balance in the aviation industry, increasing female employee numbers at least 25 percent by 2025.

The numbers from IATA’s latest report show the signatories are making progress. Many have already achieved the targets and are committed to exceeding them. The needle is indeed moving but it’s likely to be a long haul to achieve better gender diversity. Although more than 1,000 new women pilots started flying with IATA’s 25×2025 signatory airlines—an increase of over 25 percent since the program’s start—women pilots still account for only a fraction of all pilots. According to IATA’s report, Europe and Asia Pacific lead the way in putting more women on the flight deck.

Meanwhile, in the technical area, there’s an upward trend in engaging women, with almost one-fifth of roles held by women, an increase of 7 percent year over year in 2022.

For more information on 25×2025, visit