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Wonder Women in Indian Skies

India leads the world of Aviation in one very significant statistic - Women pilots.

I like Indian airports. I have been in a lot.

The revamped Mumbai Airport is a sheer joy to experience. I first landed in Mumbai in 2000, 22 years ago. I find the new infrastructure some of the best in the world.

Delhi International Airport is also an award-winning airport. (1)

My good airport experiences also extend to tier two cities in India.

I enjoy wandering around. I exercise at the airport before takeoff. I hardly sit down. I will be doing a lot of sitting on the plane, so I make an effort to keep walking for hours before the boarding call.

I browse in the bookshops (I should buy a book one day). I enjoy a chai.

And I observe. I watch the passengers, the airport staff, and the planes outside.

There is something different about Indian airports. Something very noticeable.

I’ve been travelling internationally for two decades, and there is a striking difference.

It is the women pilots.

India's Women Pilots

I was sitting in a coffee shop at Delhi International Airport.

Feeling a little bored, I went for my usual brisk walk up and down past the various boarding gates, watching the planes outside (and looking at boxes of sweets I should not be).

And there they were - two women, wearing a black and white pants uniform with captain caps, leading the smiling and stylish crew (of men and women) to one of the boarding gates.

I noticed it because it was different. I had only seen one female pilot before (For Qantas, in Sydney).

As I walked back to the coffee shop after 10 minutes, it was there again! Another captain, another woman.

Obviously, it is not surprising women can fly planes. It was surprising that I was seeing them.

And this repeated itself at other airports around India.

The number of female pilots is a noticeable difference here in India.

Was it just a fluke that I happened to see so many?

India Leads the Way

No, it was not a fluke.

I was delighted but not surprised to learn India leads the world of aviation when it comes to women pilots.

India has 10 per cent more women pilots than the world average (2).

Ten per cent is a big difference.

As reported in The Hindustan Times, about 5% of pilots worldwide are women (according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots) (2).

In India, the percentage is 15%.

The Future

If I had seen a woman pilot as a young person I think it would have had a significant impact.

The example is not only the women's families and friends but all the children who see her in uniform at work in the airport.

When we think of careers as kids and teenagers, the examples we see fuel the vision of what we can be.

If I only see men as pilots, why would I even think that could be me?

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