easyJet’s huge gender pay gap is down to having barely any female pilots

Come fly with me.
Come fly with me.
Image: Reuters/Eddie Keogh
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The low-cost carrier easyJet is one of only six FTSE 100 companies that has a female CEO. However, one thing outgoing chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall has not managed to remedy in her seven-year tenure is the company’s pay gap: this week the airline reported a 45.5% median pay gap among its male and female employees.

In response to the less than stellar results, McCall had a rationale. The company’s pilots—which account for a quarter of their UK employees—are far more likely to be men.

According to numbers reported in the Financial Times (paywall), the airline employs 1,407 male pilots and 86 female pilots who are based in the country. Meanwhile, pilots earn an average salary of £92,400 ($123,000) compared with less than £25,000 ($33,250) for cabin crew. Tellingly, the company’s top pay bracket is 90% men, while the lowest pay bracket comprises of 65% women.

While it’s clear that easyJet’s cockpits are far from a bastion of gender parity, it’s also important to note that this is true of the aviation industry at large. According to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, in 2016, just 4.5% of the country’s 13,354 aviation license holders in the UK were females. That said, easyJet seems to be aware of the bad optics: They’ve reported a 48% increase in new female co-pilot entrants for the next year.