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New initiative to tackle gender stereotypes

9th September 2019
Posted by Aston Avery

A new initiative launches in the UK today to tackle the gender stereotypes that many children still have towards aviation and engineering roles that have traditionally been occupied by men. Virgin Atlantic have partnered with Barbie to create three new Barbie dolls which represent the careers available in aviation – pilot, cabin crew and engineer. The aim is to inspire a younger generation of girls by presenting them with the different career opportunities available to both women and men.

The airline visited schools to ascertain children’s understanding of the types of jobs that exist in airports. When asked to draw a pilot, an aircraft engineer and a member of cabin crew, most children drew the first two roles as male and the third as female. This highlights the gender stereotypes that still exist amongst children as young as five years old.

The UK has the lowest percentage of women engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10 per cent, whilst Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyrus lead with near 30 per cent, according to recent figures from the Women in Engineering Society. Girls and women make up seven per cent of all engineering apprentices whilst only 15 per cent of engineering undergraduates in the UK in 2017 were women. The aviation industry is particularly dominated by men as only 4 per cent of pilots in the UK are women.

Aston spoke to Alice Goodwin, engineering graduate and Kat Hodge, senior first officer for virgin atlantic to discuss the research and the new initiative that virgin atlantic are launching.