Sophie Lane • 08.03.22 •  3 mins

International Women’s Day 2022

This International Women’s Day the theme is “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” This is not a new topic, certainly I’ve been aware of gender inequality throughout my career, and it is disappointing that this still a huge challenge.

In my early defence career, I was frequently assumed to be the secretary, often asked to make teas, called by a different name because they hadn’t bothered to listen when I was introduced, talked over or ignored. I became more forceful to be taken seriously until I was told that I was “too aggressive”, told I could never get ahead if I continued to be “pushy”. I was so young and so confused about how to succeed as a woman in a male dominated sector. I felt like I had to play a role, had to know my place. I worried I was a ‘diversity hire’ and that I would not find a way to be myself and successful.

Later, as I progressed, I challenged sexual harassment and was asked if I was sure it wasn’t just “banter”. I was kept away from meetings with foreign officials in case my gender “offended them”. I experienced the pay divide. When I questioned whether I was being paid 25% less than my male colleagues because I was doing 25% less of a job I didn’t really get an answer. I got a 5% pay uplift and was told that I should be grateful.

As you read this, I am sure some of you will be surprised by my experiences. I doubt many women will be. If you don’t believe me, ask them, and really listen to what they say.

I like to think a lot has changed. Gender disparity is less blatant, less obvious than 20 years ago. The behaviour I endured is not so easily tolerated in a workplace today. In many areas though, gender inequality still pervades – women subject to unequal pay, struggling to break through the glass ceiling, unrepresentative Boards, parental choices damaging careers… And this is just in the workplace, there are so many other areas we could talk about.

I was lucky. I had an incredible mentor who helped me see a path for myself. I became more comfortable in who I was and what I wanted and that included knowing how I wanted to be treated. I took chances and I grew into someone who is proud of her career and her achievements. That’s why I now challenge behaviours that allow gender inequality to pervade. If we don’t do it when it happens to us, who will?

I have had the honour to work with some amazing women across my career in UK and internationally, leaders in their field who are hugely successful and passionate about their work. I could name so many that have inspired me with their strength in the face of the challenges society puts in their way. Since joining ATI, I have been delighted to engage with highly qualified engineers, financiers, communications and operations professionals who are passionate about our mission of sustainable aviation and are recognised for their talent. Many also happen to be women.

We are proud to be working for a sustainable future. We are supportive of each other and the rest of the business. We are strong advocates for ourselves and for the future we are working towards. We are judged on our outputs, not our gender. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is.
On International Women’s Day, I am proud to be a part of a UK team engineering future sustainable aircraft.

#BreakTheBias #IWD2022

For more information please visit