IATA will join four other aviation and aerospace industry stakeholders in launching a global study on the dearth of women in leadership roles. 

The study, "Soaring Through the Glass Ceiling," is scheduled for release next spring. Results are to be broadly promoted by IATA and the Aerospace Industries Association, Airports Council International, International Aviation Womens Association and the civil aviation unit of the global consulting firm Korn Ferry. 

In a joint statement, the organizations said that women haven't fared as well in aviation and aerospace as they have in other industries. For example, fewer than a quarter of American aerospace workers are women, and even a lower percentage of leaders in the profession are women.

"More can and should be done to enable the advancement of women into important leadership roles in the global aviation and aerospace sector," the organizations said. "The aim of this joint study is to identify the root causes of any barriers to advancement that may have hindered progress to date. More importantly, the study will highlight those practices and policies which have been successful in promoting gender diversity in leadership."

For IATA, the study's launch comes after a tumultuous general session in June, in which the organization took criticism because just two of its 31 board members are women. The scrutiny was exacerbated when the board's chairman, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, suggested during an IATA press conference that women aren't up to the task of being CEOs. He later apologized.

According to IATA, just 3% of airline CEOs are women. Women also hold just 8% of CFO posts and 3% of COO positions. 

In all three of those roles, women are less represented than they are in other industries. For example, 12% of CEOs overall are women.  

All told, women hold just 16% of senior executive posts at North American airlines, and that's a higher percentage than carriers elsewhere in the world. In the Asia-Pacific region, women hold just 7% of senior executive posts.

The "Soaring Through the Glass Ceiling" study will include a global survey of, and interviews with, women, human resource leaders, education leaders and organizational leaders. 

The effort will also include case studies on success stories within the industry and a review of prior literature on the topic.


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