Qatar Airways C.E.O. Says Women Can’t Do His Job. Cue Groans and Backpedaling.



And as recently as last week, the British government published the worst excuses it had heard from senior executives over why more women did not sit on the boards of the country’s 350 biggest companies.

“There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board — the issues covered are extremely complex,” was one, while others implied women were not interested in such roles or that shareholders did not prioritize the issue.

Andrew Griffiths, a British business minister, said those explanations were “pitiful and patronizing.”

Women make up only about 3 percent of commercial pilots and less than 5 percent of airline chief executives, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that has been campaigning to improve gender diversity in the airline industry.

“Our sector is very dynamic and technically challenging,” Fang Liu, the organization’s secretary general, said in 2017, “but more importantly it is presently faced with rapidly expanding flight volumes and an aging work force of pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance specialists and other technical professionals.”

With passenger and freight traffic projected to double between 2016 and 2034, Ms. Liu said, there would be “a significant number of opportunities for the many young girls and women globally seeking rewarding and lifelong professions in aviation.”

For now, most of the women who lead airlines are in charge of smaller local carriers. The highest profile female chief executive in the industry in recent years has been Carolyn McCall, who ran the low-cost carrier easyJet before leaving to lead the British broadcaster ITV this year.