Image: Lufthansa

APEX Insight: Lufthansa supported gender parity this International Women’s Day by featuring women in male-dominated fields on a FlyingLab flight to SXSW in Austin, which is itself still a largely male-dominated event. Perhaps an 11-hour flight is not long enough to break through glass ceilings and gender barriers, but it’s a good start. Besides, the sisters on board are already doing it for themselves.

Lufthansa’s special International Women’s Day #PressforProgress #FlyingLab flight on board one of its Airbus A380 aircraft was operated by an all-female flight and cabin crew. Passengers were treated to onboard talks given by women working in male-dominated fields, a live performance by Swedish musician and songwriter Emma Elisabeth and a behind-the-scenes look at the airline’s beta Alexa digital voice assistant and customer service robot, which will be rolled out through 2018.

Melissa Pickering, senior design manager at The LEGO Group, was among the speakers, discussing the importance of play in a child’s development and how new digital tools can be interwoven with traditional toys to boost children’s opportunities. Also on board were Melanie Mohr, CEO of YEAY, discussing what she learned about reaching teens from building a Generation Z smartphone shopping app; Kerstin Hilgenstetter, head of She’s Mercedes at Daimler, sharing her thoughts on mobility as a lifestyle concept, Sabina Griffith, communication officer at the EU’s ITER project discussing fusion energy; and entrepreneur Nely Galan of SELF MADE, addressing the societal impact of today’s #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

“We are not only placing digital transformation in the forefront, but also the performance of women in fields dominated by technology.” — Torsten Wingenter, Lufthansa

“With the FlyingLab at the SXSW, we are not only placing digital transformation in the forefront, but also the performance of women in a fields dominated by technology,” said Torsten Wingenter, Lufthansa’s senior director of Digital Innovations, who coordinated the SXSW program.

Lufthansa has committed to increasing the opportunities available to women within the organization by creating more opportunities for female pilots and captains and increasing the proportion of female executives in the organization. Lufthansa’s workforce is currently 45.7% female, with 9.7 % of top management positions being held by women. The organization has a plan in place to increase representation in first-level roles to 18 % by 2021. Lufthansa also plans to increase female representation in second-level management from 17.3 % today to 24 % by 2021.

To achieve these aims, the airline has set up special training initiatives and is participating in a social initiative under the patronage of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which aims to ensure that equal opportunities and equal pay are part of German corporate culture.

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.