Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker poses with cabin crew in an Airbus A350-1000 at the Eurasia Airshow in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey April 25, 2018.
The airline pointed to a Bloomberg News interview in which he said he had not meant to refer to all women at the company.
Although Mr. Al Baker's comments elicited disapproving noises during the news conference, he's far from the only senior businessman to make such remarks.
He later defended the carrier, saying it was the first Middle Eastern airline to have a female pilot and that other women were in senior roles.
Al Baker is one of the airline industry's most outspoken and controversial figures, known for blistering and often humorous criticism of rival airlines and planemakers but who has also drawn criticism for being insensitive or disrespectful.
His comments met with loud groans of disapproval from many journalists in the room.
He added there was no gender inequality at the Gulf carrier, which has a close business partnership with British Airways.
"So we actually encourage women".
The boss of Qatar Airways has sparked a sexism row after claiming a woman would not be able to do his job.
"It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate I could then develop to become CEO after me".
Only about 3 per cent of commercial pilots and fewer than 5 percent of airline chief executives are women, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that has been campaigning to improve gender diversity in the airline industry.
US and some European airlines have accused Gulf carriers of unfair competition based on subsidies and social policies, but Walsh - whose group counts Qatar Airways as a shareholder - said he believed Gulf airlines competed on an equal footing. The highest profile female chief executive in the industry in recent years has been Carolyn McCall, who ran the low-priced carrier easyJet before leaving to lead the British broadcaster ITV this year.
But Mr Joyce said it was "going to take a long time to fix some of the issues that are inherent in our society", such as girls not studying science and technology in schools, which impacted their numbers in engineering and flying roles.