Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

In fact, on this day in 1910, Elise Raymonde Deroche became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot licence when the Aero-Club of France issued her licence #36 of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Aeronautics Federation or F.A.I.).

However, the aviation industry remains a largely male bastion. Figures are fluid but the International Society of Women Airline Pilots claims that there are some 7,500 female airline pilots worldwide, or 5.18% across 34 major airlines.

In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration states that 4.36% of all US pilots are women, while the Civil Aviation Authority says the UK percentage is 4.77%.

If the cockpit is seeing little increase in female crew numbers, it’s a different story in the cabin.

Research from British Airways has found that 50% of women take a holiday by themselves, overturning the notion that that solo travel is an event of consequence rather than a choice.

Indeed, 56% of women said holidays were essential to their well-being.

Over in India, travel company Cox & Kings has released findings of a study based on its booking and enquiry trends of about 2,000 women travellers in India. The study showed a 9% increase in women solo travellers as compared to 2017

Karan Anand, the company’s head of relationships, says: “While women are travelling with their friends and other women’s groups, there is also a trend of mothers travelling with their daughters.”
And airlines are taking note, with dedicated IFE channels promoting female-interest content.

British Airways has launched its ‘Wonder Women’ channel available throughout March to celebrate International Women’s Day, while Spafax has partnered with entertainment and women’s media company Refinery29, to bring R29 Originals to the IFE screen.

The partnership offers an opportunity for Spafax’s airline clients to provide their passengers with unique, female-focused content and connect with their young female audience. R29 Originals will become available starting summer 2019.

Moving to the aircraft exterior, United Airlines has launched a first-of-its-kind contest providing women artists a chance to paint a United Airlines aircraft.

Painting a Boeing 757 provides artists with a travelling canvas that flies on average 1.6 million miles a year and 476 cross-country trips. The aircraft is roughly 3,666 times larger than the typical 18” x 24” canvas.

Finalists and winners will also receive their own open gallery show, have their artwork on display inside United Airlines terminals through 2019 – with their works available for purchase – and they will also be given 100,000 MileagePlus award miles. The final designs will take flight this autumn.

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