Current Statistics of Women in Aviation Careers in U.S.

Women in Aviation: The Stats

Women have been involved in aviation since its earliest days. From E. Lillian Todd, who designed and built aircraft in 1906 to Helen Richey, who became the first woman pilot for a U.S. commercial airline in 1934, women have assumed a variety of roles in the industry. At the close of the 20th century, astronaut Eileen Collins became the first female space shuttle commander.

During the last two decades, the number of women involved in the aviation industry has steadily increased and women can be found in nearly every aviation occupation today. However, the numbers are small by comparison. Women pilots, for example, represent only six percent of the total pilot population.

At the first Annual International Women in Aviation Conference in 1990, participants recognized the need for more women in the industry and for a support group to serve as mentors, advisors and interested colleagues. Following a number of successful conferences, Women in Aviation International (WAI) was established as a professional, non-profit organization in 1994 to address those needs.

Today, WAI has more than 12,000 members worldwide, including aviation professionals, students and enthusiasts. Women and men from all segments of the industry, including general, corporate and commercial aviation, education, government and the military, are eligible for WAI membership.

Due to a strong commitment in promoting women in the aviation industry, WAI has gained wide recognition. This recognition is evident from partnerships with NASA, the FAA and other organizations.

 

Pilots
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

All Women 
584,362Pilots (total)39,1876.71%
128,501Students15,97112.43%
175Recreational158.57%
5,889Sport2233.79%
162,313Private*10,0096.17%
96,081Commercial*6,0816.33%
157,894Airline Transport*6,8884.36%
15,518Rotorcraft (only)NANA
17,991Glider (only)NANA
104,382Flight Instructors**6,8486.56%
104,382Remote Pilots***7933.89%
20,362
* Includes pilots with an airplane only certificate. Also includes those with an airplane and a helicopter and/or glider certificate. For example, if a pilot holds a private airplane certificate and a commercial helicopter certificate, the pilot would be categorized as commercial.
** Not included in total pilots.
***Remote pilot certification started in August 2016. These numbers are not included in the pilot totals.

 

Non-Pilots
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

All Women 
652,943NonPilot (total)187,91428.78%
279,435Mechanic*6,5362.34%
34,411Repairmen*1,8225.29%
5,851Parachute Rigger*5409.23%
65,053Ground Instructor*4,7727.34%
19,758Dispatcher*3,61518.30%
67Flight Navigator11.49%
212,607Flight Attendant169,17079.57%
35,761Flight Engineer1,4584.08%
* Numbers represent all certificates on record. No medical examination required.

 

Pilots (Women)
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000         
Student (1)15,97112.43%14,58011.88%14,36911.95%14,40511.98%14,64312.21%14,68312.37%14,76712.40%8,45011.69%9,12711.27%9,55911.33%9,64011.36%9,71711.14%9,85711.21%9,89711.34%10,08211.72%10,23011.80%10,80911.61%        
Recreational158.57%168.42%16

6.72%

177.14%167.34%187.93%125.66%135.56%207.94%177.11%177.11%207.19%217.22%247.74%237.26%206.33%267.65%        
Sport2233.79%2113.85%1923.98%1743.61%1523.38%1353.32%1183.20%983.02%793.01%643.15%262.77%75.22%NA NA NA NA NA         
Private10,0096.17%11,3396.64%11,6526.47%11,9096.61%12,4566.63%12,9276.65%13,5666.72%14,3226.77%15,0156.75%13,6946.49%14,1116.44%14,5176.35%15,0366.37%15,4876.42%15,9066.49%13,8945.70%14,5545.79%        
Commercial6,0816.33%6,5876.51%6,6856.18%6,9116.39%7,5366.47%7,9566.58%8,1756.61%8,2896.59%8,0836.48%7,1016.17%7,2366.15%7,3156.06%7,4216.05%7,4366.00%7,4545.92%5,9324.92%5,8074.77%        
Airline Transport6,8884.36%6,5544.24%6,4084.28%6,2054.14%5,8184.00%5,5973.93%5,5803.92%5,6363.90%5,6573.85%5,3493.72%5,0713.57%5,0083.53%4,9083.45%4,8503.38%4,7923.31%4,6303.20%4,4113.12%        
Flight Instructor (2)6,8486.56%6,6696.50%6,5216.60%6,3866.46%6,3716.48%6,3506.52%6,3596.59%6,3626.71%6,2936.75%6,2326.76%6,1586.74%6,0676.70%5,9706.66%5,8116.62%5,6676.58%5,3866.50%5,1936.42%        
Remote Pilots (3)7933.89%NANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANA                 
Total39,1876.71%39,2876.66%39,3226.56%39,6216.61%40,6216.65%41,3166.69%42,2186.73%36,8086.19%37,9816.19%35,7846.06%36,1016.05%36,5846.00%37,2436.02%37,6946.03%38,2576.06%34,7065.67%35,6075.69%        
(1) July 2010, validity increased under age 40 from 36 to 60 months.
(2) Not included in total pilots.
(3) Remote pilot certification started in August 2016. These numbers are not included in the pilot totals.

 

Pilots (Men and Women)
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000        
Student (1)128,501 122,729 120,546 120,285 119,946 118,657 119,119 72,280 80,989 84,339 84,866 87,213 87,910 87,296 85,991 86,731 93,064        
Recreational175 190 220 238 218 227 212 234 252 239 239 278 291 310 317 316 340        
Sport5,889 5,482 5,157 4,824 4,493 4,066 3,682 3,248 2,623 2,031 939 134 NA NA NA NA NA        
Private162,313 170,718 174,883 180,214 188,001 194,441 202,020 211,619 222,596 211,096 219,233 228,619 235,994 241,045 245,230 243,823 251,561        
Commercial96,081 101,164 104,322 108,206 116,400 120,865 123,705 125,738 124,746 115,127 117,610 120,614 122,592 123,990 125,920 120,502 121,858        
Airline Transport157,894 154,730 152,933 149,824 145,590 142,511 142,198 144,600 146,838 143,953 141,935 141,992 142,160 143,504 144,708 144,702 141,596        
Rotorcraft (only)15,518 15,566 15,511 15,114 15,126 15,220 15,377 15,298 14,647 12,290 10,690 9,518 8,586 7,916 7,770 7,727 7,775        
Glider (only)17,991 19,460 19,927 20,381 20,802 21,141 21,275 21,268 21,055 21,274 21,597 21,369 21,100 20,950 21,826 8,473 9,387        
Flight Instructor (2)104,382 102,628 100,993 98,842 98,328 97,409 96,473 94,863 93,202 92,175 91,343 90,555 89,596 87,816 86,089 82,875 80,931        
Remote Pilots (3)20,362 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA        
Total584,362 590,039 593,499 599,086 610,576 617,128 627,588 594,285 613,746 590,349 597,109 609,737 618,633 625,011 631,762 612,274 625,581        
(1) July 2010, validity increased under age 40 from 36 to 60 months.
(2) Not included in total pilots.
(3) Remote pilot certification started in August 2016. These numbers are not included in the pilot totals.

 

Non-Pilot (Women)
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000         
NonPilot (total)187,91428.78%183,25925.54%174,00024.81%166,29423.52%160,45222.88%155,91822.42%150,01921.85%147,05221.55%144,96821.38%138,45220.77%128,19219.53%119,85018.61%18,6663.62%18,0303.54%17,6123.42%17,1143.34%16,5523.02%        
Mechanic*6,5362.34%8,4192.47%8,1512.41%7,9172.34%7,7292.29%7,4872.23%7,2152.17%6,9802.12%6,7402.07%6,5242.02%6,3451.96%6,1521.92%5,9321.87%5,7341.83%5,5591.76%5,2951.70%5,0471.47%        
Repairmen*1,8225.29%2,2895.79%2,2785.63%2,2885.73%2,3075.70%2,2785.58%2,3125.60%2,3355.64%2,2845.56%2,1935.44%2,1805.41%2,1085.27%2,0395.20%1,8004.83%1,7224.64%1,7894.46%1,7044.46%        
Parachute Rigger*5409.23%8119.32%7639.00%7128.39%6978.23%6838.04%6557.79%6337.57%6157.46%5947.26%5847.08%5566.82%5406.74%5216.61%5006.20%4755.99%5094.86%        
Ground Instructor*4,7727.34%5,9078.23%5,8898.00%5,8698.10%5,8537.95%5,8807.88%5,8947.84%5,8607.77%5,7857.72%5,7267.68%5,6697.57%5,6127.55%5,5007.46%5,3857.41%5,3217.22%5,1697.15%5,1547.13%        
Dispatcher*3,61518.30%4,50319.48%4,32619.79%4,11518.37%3,93017.98%3,74417.53%3,53017.06%3,38116.79%3,23016.49%3,08716.21%2,93415.77%2,80515.52%2,64715.13%2,52014.86%2,41014.44%2,26214.08%2,06212.62%        
Flight Navigator11.49%10.87%10.71%10.79%10.71%10.68%10.57%10.55%10.45%10.40%10.38%10.34%10.30%00.00%00.00%00.00%00.00%        
Flight Attendant**169,17079.57%159,70384.53%150,94187.57%143,70180.04%138,22380.20%134,11480.29%128,64680.43%126,03480.41%124,41980.44%118,42680.55%108,55980.49%100,63080.48%NA NA NA NA NA         
Flight Engineer1,4584.08%1,6263.71%1,6513.54%1,6913.73%1,7123.67%1,7313.63%1,7663.60%1,8283.58%1,8943.56%1,9013.49%1,9203.43%1,9863.44%2,0073.38%2,0703.36%2,1003.30%2,1243.25%2,0763.19%        
* Numbers represent all certificates on record. No medical examination required.
** 2005 was the first year the Registry reported Flight Attendants.

 

Non-Pilot (Men and Women)
Source: FAA's Aeronautical Center (December 31st, 2016 data)

 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000        
NonPilot (total)652,943 728,329 717,399 707,155 701,291 695,515 686,717 682,315 678,181 666,559 656,227 644,016 515,293 509,835 515,570 513,100 547,453        
Mechanic*279,435 342,528 341,409 338,844 337,775 335,431 331,989 329,027 326,276 322,852 323,097 320,293 317,111 313,032 315,928 310,850 344,434        
Repairmen*34,411 39,363 39,566 39,952 40,444 40,802 41,267 41,389 41,056 40,277 40,329 40,030 39,231 37,248 37,114 40,085 38,208        
Parachute Rigger*5,851 8,846 8,702 8,491 8,474 8,491 8,407 8,362 8,248 8,186 8,252 8,150 8,011 7,883 8,063 7,927 10,477        
Ground Instructor*65,053 70,957 71,755 72,493 73,599 74,586 75,205 75,461 74,983 74,544 74,849 74,378 73,735 72,692 73,658 72,261 72,326        
Dispatcher*19,758 23,754 23,113 22,401 21,862 21,363 20,691 20,132 19,590 19,043 18,610 18,079 17,493 16,955 16,695 16,070 16,340        
Flight Navigator67 102 115 126 141 146 174 181 222 250 264 298 336 382 431 509 570        
Flight Attendant**212,607 200,319 188,936 179,531 172,357 167,037 159,946 156,741 154,671 147,013 134,874 125,032 NA NA NA NA NA        
Flight Engineer35,761 42,460 43,803 45,317 46,639 47,659 49,038 51,022 53,135 54,394 55,952 57,756 59,376 61,643 63,681 65,398 65,098        
* Numbers represent all certificates on record. No medical examination required.
** 2005 was the first year the Registry reported Flight Attendants.

Corporate Members

Benefits of a WAI Membership

WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

Become a Member