Unequal Treatment Of Men And Women In The Aviation Industry

This essay aims to understand why men and women are treated differently in the aviation industry, why females meet obstacles such as gender bias and aviation policy restrictions.

The aviation industry all over the world has a significant shortage of qualified pilots. This situation comes as an answer to gender inequality. Men are dominating in both civilian and military sectors

‘Wright Flyer ‘ invention from 1903 of Wright brothers has increased the interest of women in the aviation industry. Even if, women found the pilot job a difficult task and they showed more interest in the mechanical area of an aircraft, they were focused to learn, willing to participate and to enjoy the experiences that the industry offers. Women such as Amelia Earhart, Harriet Quimby, and Blanche Scott were ‘determined to achieve greater successful flying missions and challenged other interested women to do the same'(Ferguson,2010)

In 1979, Corn believed that a pilot should ‘demonstrate extraordinary energy, courage, a quick eye, clear judgment, and great physical dexterity’. With these skills, only a man would be able to qualify for a higher position in aviation management because women were considered being people of distrust. Between women and men since always, there have been differences in employment selection, learning style, training, how they negotiate and empathize with the people around them

Regarding employment selection, pilots should have skills such as ‘good communication, crew coordination, and team building, situational awareness, judgment, problem-solving, leadership, and workload management’ (Faulkner, 1996; Orasanu, 1994; Smith and Hanebuth,1996; Young,1995). Because of these features, there was a concept that a woman would not fit. Both passengers and males are playing a key role in the under-representation of females pilots, they are used to the image of a pilot in a men’s figure. Also, airlines did not trust women flying proficiency and technical skills.

The Wardley case (1979) from Australia was applied to give equal employment opportunities to both men and women.

Even so, Australia today has 3-4% females working as airline pilots, but they still ‘fighting shoulder to shoulder with men in front line positions’ (Mariam Al-Mansouri, the first female pilot in the Arab Emirates). Also, they are meeting difficulties to acquire the necessary licenses. Usually, a pilot license involves an eight months training course, with 40 to 80 hours flying with the instructors. For women is harder to obtain the pilot license because ‘they are not so confident in flying an airplane, so they need more training hours before their first solo flight’ (Mitchell, 2006)

Gender inequality is due to bias, not differences in behavior even if, in communication, women are more collaborative and men more competitive. Bias appears when two groups of people are treated differently but acting identically. On the other side, Crew Resource Management (CRM) training exposed differences between both men and women. The differences are more noticeable in teams where women are trying to earn the respect of their male partners and men cannot see females crew members as professionals. ‘CRM training is a never-ending process that should require the sharing of information across the world’ (Jensen, 1995). The training should establish new procedures for sexual harassment against women, to implement therapy programs that can help females to reach to the top.

In aviation training, both men and women have a different learning style. Women ‘like to share and learn in a collaborative manner’ and ‘men prefer debates’ (Tannen, 1990). Having different learning styles will be beneficial for new hires in the aviation industry therefore, it will be implemented new learning techniques.

Among other things, women are facing issues such as work-life discrepancy, pregnancy, and childcare. Because of this, it is evident that women cannot fly more than 26 weeks (Centerline Aviation Medical Services) and after birth their physical ability can be affected.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) helped women after World War II. WASP offered jobs for females such as flight attendants. Today, organizations such as ‘Sisters of the Skies’ and programs sustained by ICAO, IATA, ACI, and IAWA (Young Aviation Professionals Programme, Aviation Scholarship Programme) make women understand that the aviation industry is ready for changes and it is prepared for the impact of them. Their mission is to make the world see beyond the stereotypes and perceptions, to cross the barriers that prevent women from having higher aspirations regarding aviation careers.

In conclusion, after the analyzed documents, the industry has made efforts to increase the number of women in aviation, the organizations created to support women in pilots’ careers gained ground to eliminate gender bias. Thus, women are freer to express their personal beliefs and to apply for job positions within the industry.