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Breaking Barriers in Aerospace: Sue Partridge's Journey from Apprentice to Airbus Filton Boss

Breaking Barriers in Aerospace: Sue Partridge's Journey from Apprentice to Airbus Filton Boss

In an industry once dominated by a homogeneous workforce, Sue Partridge stands as a beacon of change and diversity. Her ascent from the sole woman apprentice to the head of Airbus' Filton site is not just a personal triumph but a testament to the evolving landscape of engineering and aerospace sectors. This article delves into her journey, the shifts in industry dynamics, and Airbus’ commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion.

Early Days and Rising Through the Ranks:

When Sue Partridge joined Airbus as an apprentice in 1989, she was the only woman in a batch of 100. Fast forward to the present, and she now oversees the bustling Filton site, a hub where approximately 2,700 individuals work on cutting-edge aviation technology. Her career trajectory mirrors the broader shift towards greater gender representation in engineering, a field historically skewed towards male dominance.


Sue Partridge on LinkedIn: #weareairbus #launchyourcareer #naw2023

Airbus' Leap in Diversity:

Under Partridge's leadership, Airbus Filton has seen its highest intake of early career workers in a decade, with women comprising around 20% of the new recruits. This significant increase from the 1% representation during Partridge's apprenticeship days highlights Airbus' commitment to breaking gender barriers and tapping into diverse talent pools.

The Importance of Diversity in Engineering:

According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, only 9% of UK engineers come from Black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds, despite these groups constituting 27% of engineering degree holders. Addressing this disparity, Sue Partridge emphasizes the critical role of diversity in driving innovation and efficiency in the aerospace sector.

Initiatives for Inclusivity:

Airbus' steps towards inclusivity extend beyond recruitment. The company has launched a STEM academy in Filton, aiming to inspire schoolchildren from varied backgrounds to explore aerospace careers. These outreach efforts, combined with collaborations with local educational institutions like the University of the West of England, are pivotal in shaping a more diverse future for engineering.

Sue Partridge's Impact and Vision:

From working on the shop floor to leading the development of Airbus' eco-friendly 'Wing of Tomorrow', Partridge's journey is marked by groundbreaking contributions. She recognizes the challenges ahead, especially in achieving gender parity and broader representation in engineering roles. However, her leadership and commitment to diversity signal a positive trajectory for Airbus and the aerospace industry at large.


Sue Partridge's story is not just about individual accomplishment; it's about the transformative power of inclusivity in traditionally male-dominated fields. Her leadership at Airbus' Filton site is shaping a more diverse, innovative, and dynamic aerospace industry. As Airbus looks forward to a future of sustainable aviation and technological advancements, it does so with a workforce that reflects the rich tapestry of society, thanks to pioneers like Partridge.

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