Accelerating gender equality in a highly specialized sector

EUROCONTROL is an intergovernmental organization with 41 Member and two Comprehensive Agreement States. They are committed to building, with their partners, a Single European Sky that will deliver the air traffic management (ATM) performance required for the twenty-first century and beyond.


Organizations need to be in tune with changes in society in order to thrive and succeed. Today, we are aware of the social and business benefits that better gender balance and diversity bring to the workplace. With the workforce in the transport sector comprised of only 22% females, we know we still have a long way to go. 

The need for change is recognized, it has prompted public administrations to send out a number of strong signals. In our field, these took the form of the launching by the European Commission of the Women in Transport – EU Platform for change initiative in November 2017. The initiative led a number of European organizations, including EUROCONTROL, to sign the ‘Declaration to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the transport sector‘. The platform also enables stakeholders to make their individual endeavours more widely known and to share their good practices.

I do not believe in hiding behind the excuse of low representation of women in aviation, engineering and technological fields across Europe”, says Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL Director General. “Rather, I am convinced that by working with ICAO and partners from across the aviation field, learning from other sectors, we will be able to make real change.”

With this in mind, EUROCONTROL is working on a number of initiatives to address the various dimensions this change requires:

  • Sabrina Depicker, Head of HR Services, EUROCONTROL

    We are improving awareness about our jobs and making them as attractive as possible to female candidates. To address any unconscious gender bias from the recruitment stage, we have increased the level of participation of female staff in our recruitment and selection boards with the aim of achieving gender parity on boards. Various initiatives are being taken in parallel to increase the number of female applicants.

  • We are adapting the structures of our internal committees to ensure a balanced representation of men and women.
  • We are developing training and awareness to help managers and staff become sensitive to diversity in general; to be aware of the role that unconscious bias plays; and to appreciate the benefits that an inclusive workplace can bring to an organization.
  • We are benchmarking to share experience with comparable organizations. Discovering what others are doing, learning from best practices and seeing how we can collaborate is important. We are in contact with various organizations on this matter and are willing to offer our support.
  • We are implementing cultural change to organize regular internal communication on gender diversity matters. Panel discussions with external guest speakers, appointing internal local ambassadors for gender and diversity, and gender mainstreaming are among the actions we are taking on this important “journey of change”.
  • We are delighted to be working with a staff-led initiative, euroDIVERSITY to explore improvements together. This internal bottom-up initiative was launched by staff and is composed of women and men keen to take the Agency forward.
  • We are collecting data to ensure that actions are evidence-based using the gender/diversity data, at our disposal and we will be reporting on progress.

While my EUROCONTROL HR team is taking the lead in addressing diversity, I also strongly believe that improving attitudes is not an exclusive HR task. This is why we are delighted to draw on the inputs of the euroDIVERSITY initiative, as well as our enthusiastic Gender Focal Points around the Agency. A deeper shift in practice and culture is needed. I am convinced that the approach we have put in place will help us play our part in addressing the lack of diversity in the air transport sector, while at the same time building an engaged and strong workforce.

If you are interested in working with us on these matters and sharing ideas, do not hesitate to contact our Diversity Project Team: