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Women in Aviation: Kate Beesley’s Story

As part of International Women’s Day we’re highlighting the stories of women in aviation and looking at the challenges they face as the industry strives for greater diversity. Read on for their stories in their words:


Commercial Airline Pilot, BALPA Rep and NEC member


Her story in her words:

I have had mixed experiences throughout my career. Entering the world of commercial aviation after university meant I was completely unaware of the low levels of female representation. It came as a shock to me that I was one of only three women in my flight school out of 150 students. I am truly thankful to the wonderful women and men that I met while training. We were able to create small unofficial networks of support that continue today almost 20 years on.

“…gender does not define ability…”

Today most work trips are spent with ultimate professionals who know that gender does not define ability and I am lucky that this is generally the norm in the flight deck. Unfortunately, discrimination does still exist and too many women are still experiencing it at work. More needs to be done to prevent this but also to ensure women are supported when these events do happen.

I personally feel very passionately against “positive discrimination”. In my opinion it diminishes the perceived ability of the women already in the industry as well as those entering it, giving the impression to fellow colleagues that entry standards have had to be lowered to achieve equal representation.

“…exposure to our role needs to start from an early age…”

The research is clear, there needs to be role models, exposure to our role needs to start from an early age and there needs to be at least four touch points in a young person’s life to enable them to consider aviation as a viable career. Reducing barriers to training such as funded places at flight schools is a great step but more work needs to be done at “grassroots level” to ensure more women overcome the challenges to enter aviation.

I ran for BALPA’s National Executive Council to make a difference in many areas of the industry and I feel very privileged to have been elected to work on members’ behalf, to make a significant, positive difference to the life of pilots. Amy Leversidge joining as our first female general secretary can only be positive, I believe her previous experience and skill set will help BALPA become the organisation it needs to be to work on our behalf and I thank her wholeheartedly for taking on the challenge.


This is the first in a series of articles we’re publishing as part of International Women’s Day, March 8th 2024. You can view the other stories from women in aviation via the links below.

Amy’s Story

Sophia’s Story

Michelle’s Story