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Why So Few Women Pilots?

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March 8, 1910 Raymonde de Laroche of France became the first woman in the world to earn a pilot license. That same year, Marthe Niel of France, Marie Marvingt of France and Helene Dutrieux of Belgium also earned theirs.

On September 16, 1910, Bessica Medlar Raiche soloed in the airplane she and her husband Francois Raiche built together at their home in Mineola, NY. The Aeronautical Society of America would accredit her as first woman aviator in America.

By 1930, many others had joined these history makers in women's aviation. Marie Marvingt of France had flown combat missions as a bomber pilot, Marga von Etzdorf of Germany became a co-pilot for Lufthansa, Florence Lowe Barnes of the United States was working as a movie stunt pilot and many women had successfully completed challenging long distance flights.

Jump ahead to the year 2010 and there are more firsts for women pilots. Ari Fuji of Japan becames the first female captain of a major Japanese commercial airliner. Jane Planchon and Cathy Arazo of France flew their first fire season at the commands of Super Scoopers. Two women, Maryse Carmichael of Canada and Virginie Guyot of France, become the leaders of their respective national military aerobatic teams, the Snowbirds and the Patrouille de France. Sara Ferrero of the United States is getting ready to become the Alabama Air National Guard's first female fighter pilot.

But wait a minute. It has now been 100 years since the first woman earned her pilot license. So, why are we still celebrating women pilots' firsts?

Could it be our sheer numbers, or rather lack thereof? When Raymonde de Laroche earned her pilot license in 1910, number 36, she represented about three percent of the pilot population at that time. One hundred years later, women still only constitute about 6% of the pilot population in most western countries. With so few women pilots, it is not difficult to understand why firsts are still being made.

But why are there so few women flying?

Like I did, I bet that many little girls dream about flying like a bird. But, I would also bet that most do not dream of growing up to do a job that requires them to dress in men's clothing complete with a straight-cut jacket, a cap designed to enhance male facial traits and a black tie. Given a choice, I suspect most little boys would not dream of doing a job that required them to wear women's clothing on a daily basis either.

With nearly 6,000 women holding an Airline Transport Pilot license in the United States alone, I find it curious to see that the airline industry and many top flight-training academies still require women to conform to this male-centric dress code. It seems as if the industry's first step in welcoming women to aviation is to attempt to take the woman out of the future woman pilot.

And why, when women constitute more than half of the total U.S. population, hold 60% of the wealth and have veto power over 95% of family purchases, is there virtually no aviation industry advertising directed at female consumers?

When women are represented, they are usually depicted as a bystander or a passenger. I recently viewed the marketing video of one of most respected aviation academies in the world and noticed that in their four-minute video, there was only one quick shot of a woman pilot and she never talked. Whether the omission was deliberate or not, today's aviation industry message is clear; women's role in aviation is negligible.

Let's take a look at how women are treated in another traditionally male sector, the motorcycle industry. Did you know that Harley Davidson reserves an entire section of their Web site to women riders with subsections such as riding courses, mentoring, the right bike, and, oh yes, riding gear and apparel? Were you aware that there is also a Women Riders' Month? It is actually just good business practice. From 2003 to 2008, Harley Davidson saw a whopping 29 percent increase in the number of female motorcycle owners.

As a flight instructor, I find many female students approach flight training as something they should not really be doing in the first place. As a result, they often need more initial encouragement to take charge than most male students do. How can we change the way women think about themselves and their role in this exciting industry?

Although we do not court women as potential students and our training programs might not always reflect their needs, every year women do come to the airport with the intention of obtaining a pilot license. In fact, women constitute more than 11% of the students who hold a student pilot certificate. Unfortunately, statistics show women are less likely to obtain a pilot license than men. Although this sad trend has been recorded for over 15 years, I am not aware of any industry effort to study and try to remedy this wasted opportunity.

It is encouraging to know that once women pass the hurdle of initial training, nearly 30 percent of them earn a commercial license and 20 percent of them earn an Airline Transport Pilot license. Moreover, as they acquire more flight experience and achieve higher ratings, they establish a natural equality with male pilots because most experienced pilots understand that to fly safely for many hours requires genuine knowledge and skills.

When asked to comment about the first space walk by a woman in 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Dzanibekov said: "Without women, we stood in space on one leg only." I dare to declare that, for the last one hundred years, aviation has been standing on one leg only.

As we celebrate the Centennial of Women Pilots, let's challenge the status quo and the false assumptions. Let's reach out and genuinely invite women to join the challenging and rewarding world of aviation not as an accessory but as a desired partner.

Comments (313)

I'm not a woman, so I'm guessing, but I'd suspect that the reason why there are so few women flying has less to do with dress than with the public presentation, over many years, of flying as a macho, top-gun activity. No doubt that image was good for Hollywood and for advertising, but it not only deters women from being interested in flying in the first place, it also attracts a few 'men' with a macho, top-gun attitude who put off (or down) women who do get interested. Most of us will have met such people.

Obviously the above isn't universal. The misogynists are few but conspicuous, and there are plenty of women who have achieved high respect in aviation - for example, the several highly competent, prize-winning female aerobatic pilots.

Posted by: John Stanning | September 27, 2010 5:31 AM    Report this comment

I am doing a University course in Australia where the costs recently became covered by a government loans scheme. Apparently the proportion of women jumped from very little to 20 something percent overnight. The variation in femininity of their dressing style is about the same as the general population of students.

I think girls have as good or better aptitude when they are motivated. I've taught a few people to windsurf and drive and the girls generally picked it up quicker. They have tended to do just enough rather than over controlling.

Some of the heat has gone out of the feminism drive I think. Maybe there are girls who like the idea of flying and feel they have the capability but are not so interested in being trailblazers or dealing with a male dominated workplace? There is a school of thought that a person's happiest level and type of social contact are better predictors of career choice than their professional interests. Maybe that's a factor here? I'd like to see more women on the airfield so I am happy to see op-eds like this.

Posted by: john hogan | September 27, 2010 6:36 AM    Report this comment

Wait a minute. Are you saying that women don't become pilots because they have to dress like a man to do it? That would probably wrangle more than a few feminists. And your comparison to the motorcycle industry is not relevant. HD marketing realized that women outnumber men in the total population and are only aiming a marketing campaign at them. And how do they get more women to ride? By creating riding fashions. If I were a woman, I'd be offended. HD is saying "We know women don't make good motorcycle riders, but maybe if we let them dress up they'll be happier hanging on the back seat of a Harley driven by a man". Gimme a break!!!

Posted by: Jerry Plante | September 27, 2010 8:06 AM    Report this comment

It seems discussion of women in aviation usually centers on the pilot population. I would have to guess that the female population of mechanics is a far more dismal number. That's a shame too because working conditions can generally be quite pleasant on relatively clean, light weight equipment.

Frequently, I am asked to speak at local schools on career day and I try to go armed with literature that depicts women in various segments of the industry. When I go to elementary schools (whose students tend to be a bit more receptive) I will ask the class if there are any women in aviation. Invariably, the little girls heads all begin to shake, at which point I pass around my materials. I hope eventually the perception will change but so far I haven't seen any evidence.

Posted by: Ray Benischeck | September 27, 2010 8:09 AM    Report this comment

As a CFI I find that few women maintain their interest much past solo. This is not due to lack of ability, just lack of interest.

I suspect it is related to getting avgas on your hands, checking the oil before every flight, pulling the plane out of the hangar, preflight planning needed for a trip, perhaps low self-confidence, and fear.

I think more men look at this as a challenge, while many women wonder why we bother.

Posted by: Dan MacDonald | September 27, 2010 8:25 AM    Report this comment

Brad, I was not jesting. You have just validated my point.

Posted by: Len Hobbs | September 27, 2010 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Part of Len's comment is valid. Apparently women just are not into flying like guys are. That is not sexist...just reality.

Around my airport many folks have horses. Almost universally it is women who ride them...not men.

Why someone wants to make this a deliberate attempt by males to suppress the women folks is beyond me. Wake up and understand that women are from Venus, men are from Mars. They are different and have different interests.

Posted by: Ron Lee | September 27, 2010 8:50 AM    Report this comment

Len Hobbs is essentially correct. Aviation is completely open to women, the difference is that women probably just have different ambitions than men. Who cares if women simply choose other careers and other hobbies? I worry about fuel prices, not this silly stuff.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 27, 2010 9:19 AM    Report this comment

Probably just more of a boy thing. There are small percentages of women Gun shooters, fisherwomen,hunters, motorcyclists, mechanics, Electricians, etc. compared to men.

I'm not saying that in a mean way. It is just how I see it. My daughter is an ATP. She told me once that girls get stuck in the kitchen because dads take boys out and show them how to change oil in cars. So I showed her how to change oil in a car and she knows how to do it. I have a grand daughter that I would loved to have taught how to fly, but she really cares more about her fingernails than she does an airplane... A woman can do anything. I would rsther have a woman working for me if I had a small busines than a man, But I don't.. Old Phil

Posted by: Phil Sisson | September 27, 2010 9:19 AM    Report this comment

You know I've been flying since 1962, hold ATP SMEL, CFI A&I, have over 30K hrs., flew as a commuter capt. for 20 yrs and therefore think I'm qualified to make a statement. I've been mentored and encouraged by most of the men I've come in contact during my flying.

The tasks involved in learning to fly are daunting and let's face it, you have to be fairly intelligent too.

Women make usually better pilots than men, if they pursue their flying--because females have better psychomotor skills than guys. We know we aren't strong enough to force it so we learn to finesse it. Don't start screaming guys, some of you are outstanding pilots too!

Clothing doesn't mean a hill of beans to the plane, just fly it! Police, firemen, soldiers all wear uniforms, why be gender specific? It's a safety factor as well, try to get out of a cocpit in a skirt, heels and hose. Fire retartdant, I don't think so. Plus, let's face it, flying is still based on a semi-military system.

If women find learning to fly too hard, then I don't want them in the sky with me anyway.

Women not flying are not an aviation problem, it's the way girls are reared. Ask any woman pilot and she'll tell you pretty much the same thing. It takes a certain personality, gender non-specific, to be a pilot. Why can't we just enjoy it, share it when approached, encourage it in those who so desire and get on with the flying?

Posted by: Esther Grupenhagen | September 27, 2010 9:20 AM    Report this comment

Ron Lee said on September 27, 2010

"...As a CFI I find that few women maintain their interest much past solo. This is not due to lack of ability, just lack of interest.

I suspect it is related to getting avgas on your hands, checking the oil before every flight, pulling the plane out of the hangar, preflight planning needed for a trip, perhaps low self-confidence, and fear....

This is just incredible, although I do believe that if a woman knew before getting into aviation that she'd have to put up with Neanderthal idiots like those who have displayed their ignorance here today, she'd go do something else. After all, it's pretty tiring to have to deal with ignorance on a daily basis. It's difficult to be told, "Gee, you did a great job on that checkride and I was twice as hard on you because you're a woman."

What century are you bigots living in that makes you believe men are SO superior in all things not lacey?

Disgusted, Linda D. Pendleton
ATP ASMEL, CE-500, LearJet, 11,000+ Hours

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | September 27, 2010 9:24 AM    Report this comment

The author's lament about the lack of women pilots I have been hearing long before I earned my pilot's license 35 years ago. While I have no interest in making a living from my flying, I have known numerous women who have made a success of it. My passion still made me own my own plane and go on to build my own homebuilt. No one was going to stop me because I was a girl.

I have met many ignornant morons like some of the people who have posted to this forum. They exist and should be ignored. They are just cheating themselves of sharing the joys of others.

Our social structure has routinely dismissed the value of women's contributions to society. Both men and women contribute to this counterproductive view of the world. It probably will not change in my lifetime. However, I know that I am a pilot and mechanic and no one can take away the joy I have when I fly.

Posted by: Norma Kraemer | September 27, 2010 9:24 AM    Report this comment

So few people actually read and understand the meanings of printed or spoken words.

My last comment on this 'inane' subject is: The world is a comedy for those who 'think'...and a tragedy for those who 'feel'.

Posted by: Len Hobbs | September 27, 2010 9:32 AM    Report this comment

Linda, Women are equally just as "Neanderthal" and "idiotic" in their approach to life as well. Once they can finally admit that, then they can get beyond the billions they spent on beauty products and the billions they spend on fashion and spend it more wisely at Aircraft Spruce and the local FBO. Their dollars will be welcome.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 27, 2010 9:41 AM    Report this comment

Ewww! Stinky bad! Talk about generalities! I think I'll opt out of this discussion now.

Posted by: Esther Grupenhagen | September 27, 2010 9:44 AM    Report this comment

The blog singularly considers only one possible explanation, and that is from the perception of a women.

I'll offer another vantage point. I have no doubt women have experienced resistance, hesitation and doubt from an overly critical thinking aviation community about women in the cockpit. But where did that come from?

In a nutshell, it started about 30 years ago when the government and airline industry thought it would be a good idea to hire certain individuals to fly commercial aircraft with as little as 350 hours and less than one year total experience.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not impugning the ability and dedication of women who have chosen this career field. Apples to apples ( experience to experience ) women are no different in ability and competence than men in a cockpit. The fact is, when a policy is put into place that allows a segment of our population to sit in the right seat of a B-737 with ridiculously low qualifications and experience, but has a 5,000 hour / 15 year ATP white male waiting for the phone to ring, a resentment will quickly be absorbed and imbed itself into the fibers of that culture for decades to come!

Not politically correct to say? It never is . . .

Posted by: Kim Barnes | September 27, 2010 10:07 AM    Report this comment

Kim Barnes said on September 27, 2010

"...allows a segment of our population to sit in the right seat of a B-737 with ridiculously low qualifications and experience, but has a 5,000 hour / 15 year ATP white male waiting for the phone to ring, a resentment will quickly be absorbed and imbed itself into the fibers of that culture for decades to come!.."

Kim,

Can you give any specific examples of that having happened? I certainly wouldn't care to have had a copilot of that experience, and trust me, there have been some of questionable ability -- and I'm being kind -- of both genders.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | September 27, 2010 10:42 AM    Report this comment

Mark Fraser said on September 27, 2010

"... then they can get beyond the billions they spent on beauty products and the billions they spend on fashion and spend it more wisely at Aircraft Spruce and the local FBO. Their dollars will be welcome."

When the aviation industry spends as much as the fashion and beauty products industries do to attract their business, they might. Imagine the impact... It would probably reduce the price of the parts that you buy and I suspect that you might like that.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 11:26 AM    Report this comment

I have had the distinct pleasure to work with a considerable number of very talented, capable, conscientious and thoroughly professional pilots who also happened to be pilots at a very successful major international airline. One very dear and close friend had the opportunity to take several years off to have her children. She was/is quite senior so could take advantage of company offered leaves. Had the company forced her to come back too soon, she'd probably quite. Which brings up the point no one has mentioned: FAMILY. Raising children put a tremendous strain on any women in the work place, and I think aviation much more so. I have a daughter in law who flies in the Military, and she is very tired of being gone soo much. When her tour is over, she's stated she's through flying, and I'm sure a lot is related to their desire for children and a normal family life.

Posted by: Burns Moore | September 27, 2010 11:27 AM    Report this comment

Burns, I think that you make a good point. However, I believe that flight attendants have a very similar lifestyle to that of pilots. There were 118,426 female flight attendants in 2007.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 11:44 AM    Report this comment

Yes, I considered that, but remember FA's don't have the same financial investment in their careers. FA's can also "job share", jump between aircraft types to fly turns and push their trips together. (None of this can normally be done by pilots) This allows them to reduce their time away from home. At least that was the case at our airline, but it was after watching the FA's that I realized how hard it was for them to balance work and family. And remember, with the increasing pressure on airline costs and wage pressures it is becoming harder for the FA's to juggle their time and life styles. Maybe that's why you see more "mature" non traditional FA's.

Posted by: Burns Moore | September 27, 2010 12:19 PM    Report this comment

I am a female pilot as well as a degreed mechanical engineer. So I want to share my perspective. First, it's not the clothes and it's not getting avgas on your hands or pushing around a TR182. I think the lack of female pilots is based on 3 factors: 1. lack of Awareness of flying. 2. lack of Expectation that women should be pilots and 3. Providing opportunity to get females into a GA plane and into a flight school. So how do we increase female pilots? Each of us as pilots needs to expect females to become pilots. Set the expectation and mentor a female. Educate parents and grand parents so they can encourage females to fly. Each of us has an empty back seat most times we fly --- invite a female to fly. Heck put her in the right seat and show her a view that not many can see. It just takes one person to make a difference. I know I am willing to reach out to other females. Are other pilots also willing to reach out?? I challenge each of you to mentor a female and share our amazing view of the earth. Let's make a difference. Signed. Karen Sutherland

Posted by: Karen Sutherland | September 27, 2010 1:20 PM    Report this comment

"When the aviation industry spends as much as the fashion and beauty products industries do to attract their business, they might."

There is no need to advertise flying since flying is fanatically restrictive (medical, ratings, currency, annuals, etc). Aviation will never be for everyone and that is actually a good thing.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 27, 2010 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Why is it that people cannot be trusted to pursue a career that they want? If people want to be pilots, then let them become pilots. Good grief, you can go through all the reasons you perceive that more women aren't becoming pilots you want, but with out empirical evidence, it is nothing but bloviating.

We live in a free society (though it is becoming less so each and every day.) Let people make their own decisions! If women, by and large, don't want to become pilots, so be it. Why push people to do something they don't want to do - for whatever reason.

All I can say is, back-off you propounders-of-what-is-wrong-with-society zealots. Women are just as capable of figuring out how to become a pilot as men are. Since that is so, let those who have the desire, figure it out. If it is too difficult, find something else.

We've got the 99s, Women Pilots Association, and whatever else. Lots of promotion being directed at women. You've encouraged them, so let them make their own decisions and let it go at that.

Posted by: Steve Thomas | September 27, 2010 1:30 PM    Report this comment

Linda, not to just single out one particular airline, but United Airlines championed the policy of hiring 350 hour female and minority pilots. Hundreds were hired in the 1980's to mid-1990's by UAL alone.

Of course the "minimum 350 hour" requirement applied to everyone publicly on paper. However, I NEVER met a single pilot in the industry, other than females or minorities, who got hired with anything remotely close to a 3 digit total flight time number back in those days.

The joke back then was why were there virtually no female corporate pilots, charter pilots, freight pilots, CFI's etc? Because they were all Airline Pilots!

I am in my 33rd year of flying professionally and I remember that time period very well . . .

Unfortunately, so do a lot of other guys. It's going to take a while for this to shake itself out of the culture.

Posted by: Kim Barnes | September 27, 2010 1:30 PM    Report this comment

The author goes out on a limb searching for excuses why women are under-represented as pilots. As many posters that actually give THOUGHT rather than knee-jerk reaction point out--anybody that WANTS to fly can do so--it's not about uniforms or expectations, it's about WILL. Of course, the apologists immediately jump on any disagreement as "sexist." (crazy)

Even if the uniform issue were valid, it doesn't explain the lack of flying STARTS for women--they just don't start flying for FUN either.

Another difference to be addressed: I have run FBOs in Metro and Rural areas. A far greater percentage of students in the Metro are women--very few in rural areas. Why do you think the difference exists?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 1:45 PM    Report this comment

My wife started flying with a pinch hitter course shortly after I began my IFR study. Her CFI soon informed her she'd done so much of the work for her license she might as well finish the job. She now flies the Saratoga. Both my daughters are interested in flying as well - my 14 year old flies almost perfect steep turns in the RV-6 which is not easy. She is my autopilot on long flights in that plane.

In short, I think Karen nailed it. If you hand her a pony a girl will ride (well). Hand her an RV and she'll fly (even better). Another problem is parents these days are very over protective. Often the kids want to fly and the parents say no way.

Oh, the CFI that trained my wife (and me in the Toga) is a woman who now flies for Southwest and participates in a "Pilots in the schools" program which is encouraging girls and boys to look at aviation careers. Their BFR's have turned into ladies's weekend getaways. I'm jealous...

Posted by: neil cormia | September 27, 2010 1:45 PM    Report this comment

1. Flying is an expensive endeavor that comes with what is conceived by the general public to be a high risk factor. I think Neil Cormia is right - a big factor is the lack of opportunity. Often kids want to fly and the parents say no way, for both reasons - expense and concern for the risk. Girls too rarely get "handed the airplane."

2. Lets just get the elephant completely out of the closet: aviation as a whole is sexist. It's a boys club, and always has been. There are thankfully of course exceptions - those of the male persuasion who are empowering, supportive and fair minded, but not enough of them. There are inspirational woman pilots supporting, encouraging and inspiring others, and always have been.

But over all, IMHO, truth is if you're female and want to make it in any field of Aviation - you better be one strong cookie with a sense of humor and a inordinate amount of self-esteem.

I can back that opinion up with enough anecdotes and stories to write a book (a very different one from what I thought I wanted to write) both from personal experience as well as interviews with a wide representation of pilots both male and female, from ALL walks of aviation life.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 2:16 PM    Report this comment

I wonder if we could all stop reacting long enough to think about what Mireille said.

When I was a kid, nurses were all female. Now there are thousands of male nurses. How did that happen? When the decision was made to welcome men, the first thing they did was create alternatives to the starched-white dress and nun's cap which every nurse wore. You think a lot of men would have gone into nursing if they hadn't done that?

Is there some reason airlines or flight schools can't offer a uniform for women - something along the lines that Mireille suggests? Would the planes crash if they did?

In every field I've seen women enter, the first pioneers take it as a challenge to "do a man's job," and to prove that they can do it as well or better than men. Once the glass ceiling is broken, MOST professions have seen the wisdom in letting women bring their unique gifts and talents to the mix, and allowing them to create "professional dress" that reflects their differences. When they are not allowed to BE women, the profession does not attract many qualified women who are comfortable with who they are.

FYI, I'm married to one of the first women ever to become a RABBI. Talk about a male-dominated field! But as we have allowed female rabbis to be WOMEN, we have gained immeasurably.

Instead of fighting, is anyone out there listening... and willing to give the idea a chance? Are we selling so many planes right now that we don't need to consider a new market?

Posted by: Donald Weber | September 27, 2010 2:17 PM    Report this comment

Curious we are re-hashing this subject. I'm not a pro pilot or a lady, tho there was this weekend in college where.....never mind. The author is asking the question based upon a Social need for more women pilots - fine if that's your particular interest whether for comradery or a more equitable industry reflection of power, but career choice is purely an individual decision to me, and since the percentage of women pilots hasn't changed in 80 years, the focus should be on a deeper level than advertising, uniforms, or cleanliness aversions. Time away from home, family, working with machinery and mostly men, and the Venus/Mars thing are relevant factors for the percentage difference. Personally I don't care about the social aspect, kinda prefer my nurse to be a female when I'm sick, (no need to rage on that) but really am only concerned if people as Individuals are happy with their career choices. That itself will reflect a better Social populace to me.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 27, 2010 2:20 PM    Report this comment

Donald Weber - It's refreshing to see it being openly discussed like this. I agree "fighting" isn't the answer - but honest discussion and truthful acknowledgment of what potentially is wrong, is a crucial first step in making the situation better.

Too easy to ignore it. And it's sad and insidious in that it hides under the surface: very easy for the male aviation community to act like it is accepting women with open arms, while the same old sexist dis-empowerment disguised in humor and manifested in subtle and not so subtle ways - like "manly" uniforms and underlying biases; the granting of potentially unfair advantage - continues.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 2:31 PM    Report this comment

Susan says "But over all, IMHO, truth is if you're female and want to make it in any field of Aviation - you better be one strong cookie with a sense of humor and a inordinate amount of self-esteem."

Why limit it to "Female"? These attributes apply to EVERYBODY--not just females.

Male or Female--if they are INSPIRED enough, if they are STRONG WILLED enough, if they are MOTIVATED enough, if they are WILLING TO PUT FORTH the effort--they will make it. "Weak Sisters" of EITHER gender will fall by the wayside--and that's the way it SHOULD be.

As the Young Eagles program has shown, all you can do is EXPOSE young people to aviation--and it either "takes" or not. You can't force people to enter a profession in this country--at least not YET.

It's time we stop the "social engineering" and "quota" system--let those who have the desire to become pilots BE pilots.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 2:33 PM    Report this comment

The whole topic is as silly as saying we need more trans-gendered pilots or more black pilots. The field is OPEN to anyone who want to fly.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 27, 2010 2:38 PM    Report this comment

Jim I don't disagree with you - well, maybe a little :) Because by its nature, sexism removes the ability for the level playing field. I'm not saying let's pass a law - or write it into contracts - or, or, or. And of COURSE those attributes I made reference to are important for EVERYBODY - and definitely for a pilot.

But the discussion here is "why so few female pilots." And I stand by my comments - I think part of the reason is that the inherent nature of aviation is overtly male-oriented. And pursuing your love of an endeavor - again, IMO - should not be hindered by running into attitudes and situations that at their heart have nothing to do with what one is trying to achieve, and instead are based on prejudices that end up manifesting as less opportunity.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 2:43 PM    Report this comment

People who argue "well, see, the problem is that women _____" aren't helping. That's a defense of the status quo. If you don't think the status quo needs to change, fine, but stop derailing the conversation that's trying to effect a change. Ms. Terrell is exactly right: aviation as a whole is generally shockingly unwelcoming to people who are not male and white. (And thank you to her for finally dragging that elephant kicking and screaming into the room!) Before people start howling about how THEY'RE not like that -- there are LOADS of exceptions, and I'm sure YOU are one of them. But this isn't about you. This is about us. This needs to change. Badly.

What amazes me is how some folks cannot see the bigger picture, and would rather see this as liberal leftist whining. It's not a social problem, and it's not a liberal problem. The fact that 94% of pilots are men is a problem for pilots: a world where we actively seek out and welcome women (and minorities) into aviation is a world where aviation itself is bigger and more stable. I keep reading that GA is at risk of dying because of a lack of involvement -- so why on earth would we not be jumping at an opportunity to talk about how to expand the flying family?

"I got mine, you could have yours too, if you wanted it" is not a helpful way to grow. We dudes in aviation might want to think about that.

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 27, 2010 2:49 PM    Report this comment

How is aviation overtly male-oriented?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 27, 2010 2:51 PM    Report this comment

Mike--there are those who advocate a "quota" system, and won't be happy until half of the pilots are female--even if they have to be dragged to the cockpit. Those people tend to see ANY differentiation as "victims"--and therefore requiring special handling or government intervention. By definition, those people ARE "liberals and leftists."

Not one person on this thread is advocating keeping women out of the cockpit. In fact, the REVERSE is true--those who see women as "victims" feel that they need "help"--a discrimination against women.

Those of us (including most of the women who have MADE it as pilots) just want everybody treated the SAME. What could be more fair than that?

Like it or not, aviation tends to be more conservative than liberal--let everybody compete on their own merits--no "referree" needed. Perhaps there are so few liberals because aviation is about taking responsibility for your OWN actions--an anathema to liberals.

Given the shortage of liberal pilots, would you advocate having "special programs" for hiring THEM? (sarcasm)

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Ladies and Gentlemen: Things are getting a little heated, eh? I've just deleted a number of over-the-top messages. If you'd like to call me a mouth-breathing ignorant moron, feel free, but please don't direct these vile and undignified labels at each other. It's tacky. Thanks for your consideration.

Paul Bertorelli Chief Moron

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 27, 2010 3:36 PM    Report this comment

Susan--the comment about all pilots (not just females) was intended as a compliment to the females (like yourself) that have made it. ALL pilots should share those attributes. (thumbs up)

Is aviation "male oriented"? Obviously, given the statistics, the answer is yes. That doesn't keep those who want to participate out of the cockpit.

Is there a motivational difference between men and women? Obviously, yes. There are more farmers and truck driving men than women, and more hairdressers and cosmetologists women than men--though there is nothing to stop either gender from participating.

AOPA magazine had a related story this month about a former Netjets pilot encouraging girls to fly. She made a comment about "the website is designed with pink and pastel colors ('you can't motivate girls with red and black') and features a cartoon of "Penelope Pilot". That's adding to the stereotype, and does nothing to motivate girls in a job or hobby that is performance oriented and requires constant checks and tests. The FAA doesn't care what gender you are, or your color--either you can fly or you can't.

Still left unanswered--why are there more women pilots in metro areas than rural areas? If you want to gain TOTAL pilot numbers, this needs to be addressed. I'd like to hear from women pilots on the subject.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 3:37 PM    Report this comment

"Like it or not, aviation tends to be more conservative than liberal." And it turns into politics. That's wrong. It isn't about politics, it's about human nature and interaction and how it affects opportunity and the ability to have a fair playing field where everyone CAN compete on their own merits. Don't assume. Don't lump people into categories. Drop the liberal/conservative monikers. Let's just talk how men pilots treat female pilots on the tarmac; in the FBO; in the commercial airliner cockpit; on online forums; in person at a flight school; at an airshow; at fly-ins.

Let's talk about how some men pilots do that human being to human being? And quite a few others do it with underlying sexist/egotistical intent, hidden agendas and unfair prejudice, creating barriers that many women - rightly and well - kick aside and treat like the disrespectful stupidity it is, even though they shouldn't have to.

But it is human nature for there also to be women who might make excellent aviators - who rightly thought all they would have to deal with in the pursuit of doing something they love were the personal challenges a plane and the air would offer; that to succeed they'd only need to conquer their fears, work hard and do their best. What about the ones who would rather put their energy into flying and flying well, not into battling petty sexist discrimination. The ones who, when they realized they were going to be asked to put their energy into both, quit.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 4:01 PM    Report this comment

And they quit Jim, because they rightly just wanted everybody to be treated the SAME. And naively thought they would be.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 4:02 PM    Report this comment

Jim, I grew up on a farm. Both my father and my mother were farmers although it might have not been listed that way in the statistics. Based on that, I believe that there is a nearly equal number of male and female farmers. The number of long haul female truck driver has also significantly increase unlike the number of female pilots.

Male pilots represents only 0.3% of the total male population in the United States. I believe that 0.3% of the total female population would enjoy becoming pilots as well if the industry was willing to work on its male-centric image. That simple change would double the pilot population nearly instantly.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 4:17 PM    Report this comment

I posted what I just did, to find your latest comments Jim. And I appreciate them. Full disclosure here too - I'm a student pilot - late in life, who is realizing I may not make it all the way to my ticket. In a nutshell? That will be not for lack of want or skill, but because of the expense. But it plays into my perspective that THAT alone is a huge obstacle for any aspiring pilot - young or old, regardless of gender. And that to throw into the mix for a girl/woman - sexist attitudes and barriers? No wonder the numbers go up percentage wise for the guys.

And you bring up a valid point - I'm familiar with the "Girls With Wings" site, and to be fair, its main focus initially at least - and the character "Penelope Pilot" in particular - were to draw young girls into aviation. The site itself has grown to appeal to female aviators, but Penelope remains a draw hopefully for kids. But it's a good point that we shouldn't have to "make a site pink and pretty" to draw women in. Not what draws me personally for sure. But neither does an overtly macho site. A good "aviation" site period - is all that should be necessary. Extremes either side of the sexual spectrum absolutely hurts the cause of equality and only serves to widen the already detrimental divide.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 4:18 PM    Report this comment

I have 7 grandkids - 3 girsl and 4 boys. The oldest (10) is a girl who WILL be a pilot. Her sister (8) shows little true interest. The next one is only 4, but I think she'll be a pilot. Her Dad is a Navy helicopter pilot, her Grandpa (me) is a pilot, and one of her uncles is a pilot. We'll certainly encourage her! As for the boys, 3 of 4 show strong interest. The 4th is only 4 months old, but if I had to bet . . .

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 27, 2010 4:41 PM    Report this comment

Susan--"A good "aviation" site period - is all that should be necessary."

That's all most of us want. No distinction, no "special treatment", no "quotas." Just let PEOPLE be PEOPLE.

In 48 years in the aviation business, I've had a number of female students--a number of female flight instructors and charter pilots--and many of them have gone on to fly with major airlines and corporations. I can't think of ANY of them that demanded special treatment--in fact, MOST of them would be offended if it was offered--they would rather "do it myself." Most of the professional women pilots I know are "one of the boys"--they fly the same trips, keep the same schedule, knock back and drink beer--just like the rest of us.

I don't believe in "affirmative action", but I do believe in targeted marketing--and whether that is to youth, seniors, women, or adventurers makes no difference--there ARE "target markets." I also believe in mentoring. Take a tip from the Young Eagles experience--all you can do is to expose a child to aviation--it either "takes" or it doesn't, and no amount of cajoling or haranging will make them do something they don't want to do.

Susan--good luck on getting your license--you've done the hard part, just getting started!

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 4:50 PM    Report this comment

Mirielle--"Both my father and my mother were farmers although it might have not been listed that way in the statistics. Based on that, I believe that there is a nearly equal number of male and female farmers. The number of long haul female truck driver has also significantly increase unlike the number of female pilots." I also grew up on a farm. I run an FBO in a rural area. As a corporate pilot, I have been to every state and province in the U.S. and Canada. There is no way that the number of female farmers--those who actually work the land and tend livestock--equals the number of males involved. As for the statement "The number of long haul female truck driver has also significantly increase unlike the number of female pilots"--the website http://www.ladytruckdrivers.com/bettyewing.htm states that "between 5 and 6 percent" of truckers are female--interestingly, about the same as pilots--and that was my point.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 4:52 PM    Report this comment

Jim sez: "there are those who advocate a "quota" system, and won't be happy until half of the pilots are female--even if they have to be dragged to the cockpit."

At no point did I say anything about a quota system. Quotas will not fix what I'm concerned about. I'm talking about a system, to use an example already introduced into this discussion, where women are told "Gee, you did a great job on that checkride and I was twice as hard on you because you're a woman." Quotas will not make comments like that -- which are far more common than you might think -- go away.

Jim also sez: "Is aviation "male oriented"? Obviously, given the statistics, the answer is yes. That doesn't keep those who want to participate out of the cockpit."

Really? How do you know this? Are you suggesting that if we suddenly managed to erase this male-dominated aspect of aviation that things would look exactly the same as they do right now? I have a hard time believing that.

Further: "The FAA doesn't care what gender you are, or your color--either you can fly or you can't." Which is the way it should be, of course. That isn't the issue here; no one has even suggested having lower PTS requirements for anyone. What's at issue is how you are treated on the way to that check ride, and what it's like for you when you're done.

I don't think the government is the key to changing what I am concerned about. This is something we're all going to have to do together, for our own long-term benefit.

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 27, 2010 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Lucky grandkids Walt :-) The key is in the opportunity - the chance - the exposure to decide if it IS going to be a passion or pursuit in life. It's a natural (and a blessing) for aviation families to pass that opportunity on to the next generation. But especially in GA? That's happening less and less as the GA base slowly decreases. Expense - obstacles like the one being discussed here, gender discrimination - regulatory restrictions are all working to slowly make GA a dying thing.

I hate typing that. My 2 year old granddaughter lives in the flight path of the local GA airport and loves pointing out to Grandma when she hears an "airpane" fly overhead. I've taken her out and shared the joy of watching them take-off and land; she knows I fly in them. And I've thought that I might be doing a better long-term thing to put money I might put into my own pursuit of my PPL - into a fund for hers someday should she want to go there. The early signs are strong in this one :) But that's obviously a huge motivator for my discussing all this here: her brother isn't, but SHE is showing signs of interest in flying. And she should have as level a playing field as possible when/if the time comes, to pursue the dream. I just hope in all honesty, that GA can hang in there another 15 years.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 4:57 PM    Report this comment

"Just let people be people" Couldn't agree more Jim. And of course always hope that they'll show the best they have in them. That's part of why I get frustrated over this whole issue - I have met some of the most inspirational, incredibly admirable pilots over the past few years. Men and women both who exemplify the absolute best in human nature - taking those traits to manifest the true meaning of what it means to be a "pilot."

But I've also seen the dark side we're talking about here; seen it from the perspective of a female. It's ugly. And it's wrong. And as I alluded to in my last post, it's contributing to the slow death of something I have a real love and respect for. It feels like there's this genuinely under-appreciated source of potential new energy to help save GA, if we can only figure out how to adquately tap into it. But to do that, first everybody involved - male and female - has to admit there's a problem. I don't sense that's truly been done yet.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 5:14 PM    Report this comment

Mike--did I say that YOU advocated a quota system? I said that "there are those". If you want to include yourself in that group, go ahead.

Mike says "Jim also sez: "Is aviation "male oriented"? Obviously, given the statistics, the answer is yes. That doesn't keep those who want to participate out of the cockpit."

Really? How do you know this?"

I guess that one could assume that aviation IS male-dominated by the numbers cited in the original post--6%. I would call that "male dominated"--don't you? (question)

Mike takes issue with my statement " "The FAA doesn't care what gender you are, or your color--either you can fly or you can't." Which is the way it should be, of course" when he says

"That isn't the issue here; no one has even suggested having lower PTS requirements for anyone." I didn't advocate lowering PTS requirements either--where did that come from? My point was/is--the only thing that counts in aviation is whether you can do the job or fly responsibly. This industry, whether pilots fly for a career or for fun--has a lot of performance reviews. Either you make it or you don't--the FAA (and the reviewer) are impartial.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 27, 2010 5:48 PM    Report this comment

Isn't it obvious that in general men are interested in some things and in general women are interested in different things? Why should aviation be different? I have two daughters who I would have been delighted to develop an interest in aviation. Alas, they just weren't interested.

Posted by: Kenneth Katz | September 27, 2010 5:58 PM    Report this comment

Interesting, the variety of comments here. I hold an ATP, worked for 2 airlines, and now work as ATC. I have to agree with the author - many videos do not depict women in significant roles. I have had multiple issues as a working airline pilot - standing in front of a gate agent in full uniform requesting the jumpseat and being told "there's no flight attendant jumpseat," meeting passengers while boarding after a walk-around and hearing them say "there's our flight attendant now" again while in full uniform, etc. Probably the worst non-compliment I ever received was "that's pretty good flying for a girl!" Very offensive - how about dropping the last 3 words? I've also had passengers complain about my flying - apparently I was too aggressive because I flew like a pilot should? Others are MUCH more likely to question a woman's decisions.

I'm not bitter, but the cumulative effect of such comments is very tiring. I don't want to be hired because I'm a female pilot, I want to be hired because I'm a good pilot. I am not focused on my gender, I'm focused on doing a good job. In fact, I turned down one job because I felt they were merely focused on gender.

I LOVE flying far more than controlling but I'm happy to do it as a hobby now, for a variety reasons. One thing I don't miss is the idiocy of the flying public... or the aviation public, for that matter.

Posted by: Katrina L | September 27, 2010 6:03 PM    Report this comment

Concerning quotas, I believe that gender alone should never be considered a qualification when it comes to piloting an aircraft. Given the competiveness of the field, no woman should reasonably expect that men will hold the door to the cockpit and say, “After you, Madame”.

That's why I believe that the solution lies in changing our collective industry image to increase the pool of female candidates. Our image and our behavior should be more inclusive. It could begin with equaling acknowledging and celebrating the achievement milestone of every group that makes up our aviation family. 2010 is the year of the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots. Did you notice many official celebrations or the traditional "looking back over the 100 years" articles in the traditional aviation media? 2021 will the year of the first black licensed pilot, which happens to be a women.

Jim -- Ladies long haul truck drivers have increased to their percentage of nearly 6% in a few decades. The percentage of women pilots has stagnated at 6% for many decades. Female doctors have to 0% to more than 20% in one hundred years.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 6:05 PM    Report this comment

"Isn't it obvious that in general men are interested in some things and in general women are interested in different things? Why should aviation be different? I have two daughters who I would have been delighted to develop an interest in aviation. Alas, they just weren't interested."

Kenneth, do you see the subtle sexism inherent in what you wrote here? You write "men are interested in some things - in general women are interested in different things" followed by commentary that implies aviation is one of those things that men are interested in and women aren't. That's exactly the kind of underlying thought process that needs to go on the part of men involved in aviation.

To make my point for anyone shaking their heads? Let's re-word this: "Isn't it obvious that in general some *people* are interested in some things and in general some *people* are interested in different things? Why should aviation be different? I have two *kids* who I would have been delighted to develop an interest in aviation. Alas, they just weren't interested."

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Mark Fraser asked, "How is aviation overtly male-oriented?" I'll give one reason with an analogy. I once went to an exclusive club in Philadelphia to hear a talk by a college classmate who is now a law school dean. Everyone in the room was wearing a fine suit, the walls were paneled with fine wood, coffee was served on fine china . . . and almost everyone but me was black. Even in that fine, safe, rarified environment, I felt quite nervous. And it hit me.... so THIS is what it feels like for blacks. And I started to understand the inner stress when the black kid enters the the mostly-white college, grad school, law firm. So..... take this to your FBO. Women notice when they're the only one. Additionally.... Many men (of all ages) simply don't know how to act towards women in a gender-neutral way. Whether out of good motives or bad, they treat women differently from how they treat men. The flight school environment may not be intended to be unwelcoming, but I'm sure many women have felt the same way I felt at that fancy club. And that is another hurdle to overcome. Flying is full of hurdles, beginning with the the moment that you walk up to the counter, swallow the lump in your throat, and bravely say, "I'd like to learn to fly." Most people get snagged by one hurdle or another. Or several hurdles combine to dampen one's enthusiasm.

Posted by: John Schubert | September 27, 2010 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Susan... Earning a pilot's license is a tough endeavor (male or female.) One of the big problems is that students are pretty much left to "go it on their own." They place a lot of faith in their instructor but an instructor even with the best of intentions has a heavily divided schedule. My recommendation is to hang out at the local airport and find some way to get to know the local pilots and to be more specific... the local plane "owners." I am more than happy to include a new pilot to go with me on a trip or to just go up for a short flight. Burning a little fuel is not generally a big deal to someone who own's a plane. That way you avoid the huge cost of a rental and get the benefit of flying with someone who has been through what you are currently going through. AOPA has been promoting the Mentor program and I think the concept has a lot of merit. Best of luck.

Posted by: Eric Benz | September 27, 2010 6:25 PM    Report this comment

Eric, thank you so much - for a LOT of reasons - for your kind and right-on advice. I'm in a somewhat unique position I'm eternally grateful for ... I have a few good and generous/sharing friends who are excellent pilots with their own 182's. One in particular is an inspiring woman who played no small part in affirming many of my opinions shared here today. I flew the Yukon with her for a week this past July, an experience that served to only cement my intense desire to be a pilot myself - but also confirmed all of my understanding that this is ultimately ... an expensive passion to pursue in life. Oh I know there are ways to keep the cost as minimal as possible - but still. Your advice to me though is excellent for someone in a similar state of "want-to" - but not blessed with the advantage I'm so appreciative of.

And to keep this on topic? It was on the trip to the Yukon also where I saw firsthand examples (thankfully they were minimal) of what a "boys club" GA can be; the errant assumptions that can be made; the intentional dissing that can occur; the patronizing sexism that needs to go away. John: your analogy was perfect. Katrina: you've actually lived ... what I'm only trying to philosophize about.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 6:38 PM    Report this comment

I am a female pilot...and I love riding my HDs. I ride a Softtail and a VROD. Marketing of HDs has recently been aiming at getting more women to RIDE...NOT just to wear the "biker chick clothes". They built the Dyna Low, the softtail Deluxe etc to be more ergonomically correct for a femme's frame. Men and women ARE inherently different in anatomy. Planes were built by men for men all along. Women adapt to fly all along ( which makes us a superior being....because we have to adapt to and overcome the obstacle of the plane designed for a man). Maybe it is time the airline industry follow HD's lead. Build it and they will come. I am a tat taller than the average woman, so I can reach the rudders and see pass the glare shield. Lucky me. Learning to fly in a smaller frame plane like the C150/C152 alas will never get a woman into a C-130 unless she tries extra hard to adapt, besides having to overcome the chauvanistic,macho male attitude towards her in the first year of training. I know, I have femme friends who have undergone such treatment in the industry. Until we start to blurr the line between male and female, black and white in our attitudes and thinking.... we are doomed to remain bigotted and ignorant of growth potentials in "People" and humanity as a whole. The next human GOD(or?)create will be gender free and self reproducing to humor us. You know why there are no great female composers/ musicians in the 16th and 17th Century?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 6:41 PM    Report this comment

Reading the "history" of women who struggle to have the right to fly and have the right to be accepted in society as pilots brings tears to my eyes. Why do we have to struggle so hard? Like John Schubert above wrote... it is no difference from the Black American history. No different from women struggling to get an education in Afghanistan and Somalia. As a society we need to make the concept of "Struggle" disapppear. As an Asian woman who immigrated to Canada 35 years ago, I had suffered at the hands sexist males, and had to "Struggle" to be accepted in many milieus. Times are changing. No need for that now. This forum teaches that. I am glad to see "a few good men" ( and women) here.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 6:56 PM    Report this comment

I was at the Citation Jet Pilots Association annual meeting in Colorado Springs a couple weeks ago. They offered a Companion Course that was taken by about 20 people as I recall. I think three were guys (one was 13, one was about 75). The rest were all women, most of whom had no pilot training. They had 2 hr of ground school and 2 hr in the pattern. Every single one of them was talked through flying an ILS approach as though they were taking over for a disabled pilot - and EVERY ONE OF THEM put their Citation Mustang on the ground safely. My wife, not a pilot, wanted to do it and took the ground school, but our insurance company would not cover our Citation 551 to their satisfaction because the only instructor with 550/551 single pilot experience hadn't been in one in two years. But she will do it another time!

The point is - although this was a very controlled environment, it showed that people who never thought they could land an airplane (much less a jet, and most never wanted to fly as a pilot at all) found out that with proper coaching and using the right techniques, and going to a nice long runway with an ILS, they could use the autopilot to get over the numbers and then chop the throttles and land - and survive! What a confidence builder! I wouldn't be surprised if some of them actually go out and take lessons.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 27, 2010 7:01 PM    Report this comment

Three cheers for LINDA PANDLETON. I would go to a CFI like her to learn to fly for sure. As for DAN the CFI, shame on you. Linda is right chewing you out. You ought to lose your CFI license and go back to your cave. Oh, drag a female "lucy" in there with you. No sensible woman would find you attractive. "Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis)"for you.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 7:13 PM    Report this comment

DANG, DAN Macdonald.... I just chipped my nails cleaning my plane!! And my pretty dress is all mucked up with avgas while fueling... what should I do? hmmm?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 7:27 PM    Report this comment

Hey Susan, Since I did not get you your PPL while flying you in the YUKON this Summer, I at least owe your granddaughter a scholarship some day to the country's best flying academy eh? Yes, that is a threat, so you best prepare the way for her. Like John the Baptist, you have a difficult mission ahead of you, woman !! As for the "wong way Navi", I don't know what to do with her. Her daughter wants to be a pilot too. I am so happy to hear that. LOL

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 7:36 PM    Report this comment

Yes, yes ... if you want to talk about a strong cookie pilot with a sense of humor and no lack of self-esteem who knows their stuff around an airplane, regardless of gender - I'll give you Erissa Yong. She is indeed who flew me in the Yukon this summer and although I didn't get my PPL - she most certainly provided me with the ability to be that much closer to it by letting me fly with the CFI from HER flight school. As in Cobalt. That she owns. Point to all that - and again to stay on topic - being that she's a pilot who walks-the-walk and isn't deterred by the sexism. That doesn't mean however - that she doesn't far to often, run into it.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 7:53 PM    Report this comment

I hear there is going to be a severe shortage of pilot by 2020. What are we going to do with promoting flying to the next generation or two? I think each of us can sponsor or mentor 2 youngsters from all sexes, Male, female, XXY, YYX, etc.... to generate interests in flying. I got my two. I am starting. Do ask and tell.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 7:56 PM    Report this comment

"Aviation will never be for everyone and that is actually a good thing."

Why so elitist, Mark Fraser? Does that make you "exclusive" and feel Special? hmmm. Everyone should eat cake too ya know. Or was it bread?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 7:59 PM    Report this comment

I think Mark was saying that unlike driving a car (and we all know not everyone should do that, either), flying is more demanding and not everyone should be turned loose in an airplane, even if they pass the tests. Legally they should, but we've all known some pilots that we wouldn't get into an airplane with them as PIC.

Look at the accident statistics (by the way, I'll bet they're worse for men - because I think statistically men are more risk-takers and often go too far) and you see most are caused by inadequate skills or poor judgment. Those who can't or won't maintain their skills, and those who can't or won't exercise good judgment, are the ones I assumed Mark was talking about.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 27, 2010 8:08 PM    Report this comment

Interesting dialog, but I think a lot of positions are a little idealistic. I would talk to very excited and idealistic airline applicants, then new hires and finally, several years into the process, road weary line pilots. Now to be fair the projected pilot shortage may alter the equation, but then the new FAA experience rules will make it much much harder to get into a 121 carrier. With increased globalization, competition will get much more intense among international carriers and 5th Freedom rights are a real threat. I am afraid that the very good life of working 7 - 9 days a month are long gone. Competition won't allow it. The vast majority of line pilots are working 15 -20 days a month, and gone from home while doing so. It can be a hard life style and that isn't usually well understood. Flying for the love of flying is one thing, the time gone can be another. BTW none of my children are interested in flying. My daughter is an attorney, one son a Harvard MBA and the youngest an officer in the USMC. The all felt their choices were a better return on their financial investment.

Posted by: Burns Moore | September 27, 2010 8:11 PM    Report this comment

How this blog got to full-blown man-bashing is disgusting. Substituting heat for light may work in massage, but never does in discussions.

In therapy we often say that our attitude determines our experiences - every time. Our level of maturity is displayed by our ability or lack thereof to embrace that statement and go out into the world without preconcieved ideas or biases and manifest what our goals are.

The moment it is realized that nothing can affect you unless you allow it to is the moment of your true realization of power and creativity. Wanting more or less women, Blacks, Hispanics, little people, etc. in any endeavor is a social distraction that is unnecessary and fruitless.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 27, 2010 8:12 PM    Report this comment

I believe many lady student/pilots are just turned off by 'the good ole boy's club' that is alive and well in the male dominated pilot's world. I am sharing my commercial checkride experience. A very rotund, designated examiner at the onset, questioned why a "pretty little thing like me" would want to obtain a commercial rating. He asked "Why don't you get yourself a pilot to give you rides?" This type of attitude permeated the entire oral portion and into the flying segment. He would not let me break for lunch before we began the flying section of the test. He stated, "It won't take very long to get the maneuvers done." He put his arm around my seat the entire flight. I told him I was uncomfortable with his arm there and asked him to move his arm. He made the comment, "I'm a big guy and I need the extra room." He treated me as some bimbo blond who was just flying for a whim. I was later told by my instructor and others that I should have stopped the checkride and requested a different examiner. At that point, it was after the fact. I have been belittled by more than one male instructor either by their attitudes or actual words. They made sure I understood they were the superior beings...I was an underling. I have been talked down to in front of influential people,that instructor was asked my me to step outside, where I explained my position and promptly dismissed him. I told him he would never see another dime from me.

Posted by: May Bee | September 27, 2010 8:16 PM    Report this comment

Many times, when someone asks me what I do and I tell them I fly, they question, "Oh, are you a flight attendant?" I politely answer, "I am the pilot." Many men, even male pilots are intiminated by my flying skills. I believe it is a macho thing. I also want to share that many male pilots have been very kind, helpful and supportive. They have treated me as a peer. I treasure those mentors and friends. We as women need to be assertive even 'gusty' and stand tall. I challenge us to take women flying and be mentors to new aviatrixes.

Posted by: May Bee | September 27, 2010 8:17 PM    Report this comment

I have been an instructor since 1967. I have only seen one or two natural pilots in my life. Both were women. One was about 25 the other 18. In both cases they ran out of funds before completing their Private Cert. Tragic because these are the ones this country needs in the left seat of anything as well as in the right seat of good training organizations, which is another entire issue.

Posted by: Robert Braun | September 27, 2010 8:17 PM    Report this comment

Very profound indeed, Dave. I do confess I need therapy. I apologise for my lack of maturity to embrace the preconcieved ideas that are of my own making. But how can we solve the percieved threat of a pilot shortage in North America in the near future. We can't afford to hire Chinese pilots because safety factor alone would not allow it. Apparently last week, I read on the AOPA ezine that 900 Chinese pilots had confessed to padding their hours to get jobs. I would be afraid to fly commercial if that were true.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 8:23 PM    Report this comment

Dave Miller: I don't detect any man-bashing. No woman posting here has asked for special favors. You state that "nothing can affect you unless you allow it to." Put yourself in the position that May Bee described in the post immediately below yours. Do you really think that is nothing?

Posted by: John Schubert | September 27, 2010 8:26 PM    Report this comment

Nothing can affect you unless you allow it to is absolutely sage advice that one can hold true and manifest in their life. In the end ultimately you having nothing but your attitude toward something. However that doesn't mean the something you need to have an attitude "toward" - doesn't exist, and that it doesn't put up real barriers to progress at times. I don't choose to let the sexism being discussed here deter me - my attitude toward it is to acknowledge it exists, do what I can to change it, and move on.

But one of the reasons it concerns me - and a point I made here earlier in the discussion - is that GA is dying. And one of the things I think will help save it, is to find a way to recruit and encourage more women. And one of the things IMO that needs to stop for that to happen? Is for the male aviation community - to quit stereotyping them.

And Walt - loved the story about the Citation Companion course.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 8:29 PM    Report this comment

Well Walt W. Statistically if there are more men pilots around, ( 100 years later, Where are the women pilots?) it would stand to reason that more men pilot would crash. That is the nature of statistics. More women will die of toxic shock syndrome. Period! Pun not intended. Thanks for explaining Mark Fraser tho. Some times I just am a little dense.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 8:30 PM    Report this comment

It is uplifting to read the many thoughtful and supporting comments by male pilots. One of these types of man help the first woman to learn to fly. I can only hope that these men' voices will be heard by women considering to learn to fly.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 8:46 PM    Report this comment

"It is uplifting to read the many thoughtful and supporting comments by male pilots. One of these types of man help the first woman to learn to fly. I can only hope that these men' voices will be heard by women considering to learn to fly." I agree Mireille, and thank you for writing the thoughts that started this discussion. It's an important one that needs to expand out further into the aviation community.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 8:51 PM    Report this comment

John, the statement we are quoting doesn't imply that the issue means nothing, just that we have the latent ability to be detached or indifferent to anything of our choosing, thereby removing any power it may have had over us. Like aging, however, it is not for the faint of heart in practice.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 27, 2010 8:53 PM    Report this comment

Dave, detachment and indifference works well - I'm a great fan under the right circumstances. And you're right, it is not for the faint of heart in practice. But it's wrong to imply - having been there - that just "detach and be indifferent" is what woman aspiring to be pilots should do in order to overcome the sexism that has been discussed in this thread. Sorry, but its a cop out on your part as a man to imply that.

Bottom line is you can't relate to the stories told by women here of having lived through things like they shared. It IS the kind of thing where an attitude of not letting it have power over you can be a good personal reaction as it will keep you from giving up. But it will not in itself solve or remove the core problem that is having a very real affect on the ability of women to advance in aviation.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 9:01 PM    Report this comment

We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess Susan. You see the core problem of an issue to be outside of yourself, and I see it to be inside. Acknowledging something to be real makes it so, and if repeatidly done will give it power beyond it's abstract existence. We all see things to our own various levels individually - you must admit that, it's just that for your own personal reasons you might give something like sexism in aviation more life than other folks would. That's fine, it's personal, and it's always our own choice, right? We just don't want to make the mistake that everyone sees something the same way we see it.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 27, 2010 9:20 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps the manifestive power works both ways Dave ... we should give it that. I know exactly what you're speaking to - so we don't really disagree at the core. I just feel that it's easy for a man sitting on the outside being the cause - to sum it all up by saying the woman - is causing it with her own intent and attention.

I didn't cause a male CHP officer to sexually harass me while giving me a speeding ticket; I "chose" however to not make an issue of it out of self-preservationat the time on a remote country road. Hard to relate to that if you've never experienced it. May Bee's story about her commercial checkride reminded me of that incident. I doubt as understanding as many of the men here today have been, that they can truly relate to either circumstance. Offered only as perspective. I think the more we can all try and understand, the closer we'll all get to not giving the entire issue any further power from either side.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 27, 2010 9:29 PM    Report this comment

Mireille... what a lovely name. I am into names. MIREILLE... pronounced... Mee - ree- eh !! I have a french femme friend here with that name. I love it. AND I love MAY BEE's name. I have a friend call DARLENE MAY KNOTT. She may not do a lot of things when her mom was mad at her. My name is different and pretty too I think. I love being a woman most of the time. I love pretty women's name. Oh, and I love to spend money on lotions and potions too... not billions of dollars tho. I still have to put aside money for stinky avgas and oil and filters and Aircraft Spruce avionics department. I just spent $12K on installing the AuRACLE CRM 2100 Engine monitor for my C182. I am saving for a STOL kit now. I wish I didn't have to paint my nails. I would have more money for avionics. I love avionics... SIGH !!

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 9:47 PM    Report this comment

Susan, I'm not sexist. I'm recognizing reality. In general, men and women are different and have different interests. Of course, we treat individuals as individuals. Just because "most men ..." and "most women...." doesn't mean that "all men..." and "all women...". In general, men like mechanical things, and in particular fast, noisy mechanical things. In general, men are not particularly interested in feelings and their personal appearance. Women, the opposite. I don't see why pointing this out is sexist or otherwise a bad thing.

I love flying and things that fly. I enjoy the company of people who have similar interests, of either sex and any race or national origin. I would be delighted if more women were interested in the subject. But I think that anybody who thinks that there is some large untapped demand by women for aviation or the primary barrier to more women in aviation is sexism and discrimination is fooling themselves.

Posted by: Kenneth Katz | September 27, 2010 10:13 PM    Report this comment

Good grief no one, especially me, is saying the women are 'causing' the male behavior in these instances. I am only trying to point out that whether one is affected by others' machisimo, a lack of money, fear, personal uncoordination, family, time away from home, fuel smell, or simply lack of interest - or any one of untold INDIVIDUAL reasons for the 6% female pilot population, that personally, we each can conquer our own challenges by effort and creativity if we really want to, and yes, it really is a choice! You do have free will, not to change other's behavior, that is their business, but to manage our own to manifest our personal goals. We do ourselves a disservice to look at walls or blockages and blame them for our own lack of will and determination.

This is exactly the problem with the blog's question for me. The better question to ask is 'Why do we want to have more female pilots"? That is a social engineering issue, one of which I have absolutely no interest in.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 27, 2010 11:20 PM    Report this comment

Erissa, when I said I suspect the accident statistics for men were worse, I meant the rate, not the absolute count. Knowing the male and female pilots I know, which I admit is a small sample of the total population, I think the guys would be more likely to push the risk envelope further, perhaps out of the (potentially dangerous) fear of not being perceived as macho. I also think that as a group, males tend to trust more in their ability to calculate risk (not necessarily accurately!).

I've heard "another empty kitchen" on the radio more than once, and it always brings thoughts of some guy who didn't get the job he wanted because a woman with lower qualifications was given preference. Reverse discrimination to them. I've met a couple of them, and although they do accept women pilots now, there is still a thread of underlying resentment from a couple of decades ago. The wisecrack is done more for humor now, but you can tell where the roots were derived. So I think there's a trace of sexism still around. I fly over 100,000 miles a year commercially (mostly overseas) and about 200 hr/year between the Citation and L-39, although it's not the same as a woman going on the job day after day with much more opportunity to experience it.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 27, 2010 11:43 PM    Report this comment

Namaste ... & blue sky. Ay, indeed, Friendship is born of similar interests. If anybody is coming to Vancouver, look me up. I'll take you flying and fishing in Northern BC. Maybe we can smoke a Cuban, inhale something, toast with a Talisker or Lapraoig, and camp under my Beaver........dreams can become reality. Stay focused. Fly IMSAFE. p.s. I love the sounds of big radials.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 27, 2010 11:53 PM    Report this comment

When asked to fly for their country, 25,000 women responded yes and applied to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). In 1940, the total population was not even half of what it is today.

The number of fully rated female pilots is around 25,000 today. I think that to believe that we can do better than that is not much of a stretch.

Kenneth -- I taught plenty of male pilots who did not care for working on their airplanes themselves and that did not make them bad pilots. On a different note, men seem to care plenty about their appearances (which is fine with me). "Just for Men" which was one of the first brands to tap into that fact is doing quite well.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 27, 2010 11:54 PM    Report this comment

Hey Walt Woltosz... another great name. I think it is a psuedonym. Sounds too smooth to be realLOL. I know you know about statistics.... just jazzing you. But you know what my university Stat prof said once on our first Stat class? He actually said: "Statistic is like a woman in a bikini... What it hides is decieving... what it reveals is vital". That was 30 years ago. He won't have his tenure if he said that today. How times have changed!! Hey, do you fly to Malaysia too? Sparky Imeson the Mountain flying Guru used to fly the Citation 750. He used to send me photos of his "front office". Unfortunately he died. I must say ALL my flying mentors were/are men. I have lots of women flying buddies and comrades. I found a few men mentors on the CPS and CPA. I email them for info and knowledge. I have been really blessed to have them and to tap into their resources and brain matter. I wish I have women mentors... but then I would have to call them my WOMTORS I suppose.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 12:06 AM    Report this comment

I fly over 100,000 miles a year commercially (mostly overseas) and about 200 hr/year between the Citation and L-39,

THAT is very impressive Walt. That is 4 times around the earth, and more... And an L-39 too. You train fighter pilots? I love the Raptors 22 and F-35. Can't believe humans built them! I don't do fighter jets, but next life time, male or female, I am coming back to fly them. I believe in reincarnations. So, I am going to be good to get me some karma kredits to use in my next life. LOL

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 12:26 AM    Report this comment

Erissa - no pseudonym (Google it). If you're in Southern California and want an L-39 experience sometime, let me know. By the way, my wife and I are considering an Alaska trip in the Citation someday. It would be interesting to get your suggestions on where and when to go.

I love the saying on statistics - it's true even if it is sexist! (Actually, I could even believe it was worded the opposite!)

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 1:04 AM    Report this comment

Kenneth, you say, "In general, men like mechanical things, and in particular fast, noisy mechanical things. In general, men are not particularly interested in feelings and their personal appearance. Women, the opposite. I don't see why pointing this out is sexist or otherwise a bad thing."

Are you certain women are really interested in their appearance? Or is it possible that men tend to be quite visual and therefore women, to appeal to men, have been concerned about their appearance as a result? In years past, that would increase their chances of survival. If you notice, gay men, who are attempting to appeal to other men, are much more concerned about their appearance than the average straight male.

Posted by: Katrina L | September 28, 2010 6:40 AM    Report this comment

Erissa Yong said "Why so elitist, Mark Fraser? Does that make you "exclusive" and feel Special? hmmm. Everyone should eat cake too ya know. Or was it bread?"

Reality is that 99% of men don't even hold a certificate so it (should) be obvious that flying is not even a high priority in the male population!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 7:16 AM    Report this comment

As the aforementioned subject of the article in AOPA (http://www.aopa.org/members/files/pilot/2010/october/feature_girlswithwings.html) and the organization Girls With Wings, Inc., a nonprofit I founded after already a 17 year career in aviation, I am also stuck for a definitive answer on "Why" there are so "Few Women Pilots." But I am willing to try everything I can to find a solution. To quote, uh, myself, “I know in my heart that while there have been great efforts nationwide for encouraging kids to learn to fly, what we’ve been doing isn’t working or else that 6-percent-female pilot demographic would have increased. When you try to appeal to both boys and girls, you lose the girls.” Even the slightest effort into researching gender differences will prove its existence as a general rule, if not a law, of nature. No one is required to live by, adhere to, or enforce this rule.

In sum, I celebrate Mireille Goyer's efforts on the Centennial of Women Pilots and all other efforts hoping to revive, refresh, and renew interest in aviation and continue the comradeship and community that we in this field enjoy.

Posted by: Lynda Meeks | September 28, 2010 8:15 AM    Report this comment

Learned a great deal from all this back and forth; new perspective and also hope for the future of GA. Caring and getting involved is ultimately the solution as far as saving it is concerned, regardless of your gender. Thanks to all ... it's easy to misconstrue words typed in little boxes, but I appreciated all of the discussion, even if I didn't agree with some of it. I'm off to practice that free-will Dave champions - in a non-sexist way :)

And I can't recommend highly enough that you look up Cobalt Aviation and Erissa Yong if you're ever in Vancouver. If they could clone her for enthusiasm, commitment to and passion for flying there would be absolutely no need for Mirelle's piece to begin with :-) Lynda Meeks is also a woman who walks the walk and has done a great deal to promote women in aviation. Sometimes the pink gets to me (just a personal thing :) - but the content of her site is exactly what an aspiring female needs to find for support & encouragement. I suppose it is sad though in the end, that there needs to be a separate site at all. Blue Skies all....

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 8:35 AM    Report this comment

At the age of 57 and currently in pilot training I venture to put forth three typical reasons that keep women out of the air: family, family, family. My family is now raised, through the cost of higher education and now I can once again take to the skies. I have been surrounded by pilots all my life and have the best instructor (supportive,experienced,knowlwdgeable). Nothing can stop me now. Thank you for noticing!

Posted by: Kathleen Voigt | September 28, 2010 8:50 AM    Report this comment

I know us macho types are the bad guys in this scenario but sometimes women shoot themselves in their own foot. Our recently formed EAA chapter has started doing Young Eagles flights. In order to keep to a manageable group, the first time around we called the local Boy Scout troop and as we expected got an enthusiastic response. The next time we contacted the Girl Scouts, no dice. They were afraid of the liablity in spite of the fact we told them all we wanted was for them to tell the girls. It would not be a Girl Scout activity, we just wanted to offer the girls the opportunity. We wound up going to a local church and hijacking the young ladies Sunday school class. Guess what? Girls like to fly!

Posted by: Richard Montague | September 28, 2010 9:33 AM    Report this comment

In going through college and seeing the culture at many of the aviation events, our culture is geared towards the traditional activities of a man over a woman. There will be many years before this will change. It's not like you can change a culture in a year or two and expect thousands of women to flood into aviation. Cultures evolve, which takes time.

A good analogy to compare this to would be like muscle cars and racing. Men traditionally are attracted to this and women are not. From a young age women are pushed in the direction of the traditional girl from magazines, movies, tv, commercials, toys and even their parrents to like the cute and pink. Aviation normally does not have this. So this stems beyond aviation and into the depths of how our children are raised. If a child sees men hunting, working on a car, and flying, then the child will associate this as a manly activity and as a woman they will be less inclined to be involved.

In todays society women do what they want. There are no restrictions keeping women from being involved. Equal opportunity exists by law, and in most regions of the country this is followed. This is just something that will not change until the culture changes.

Posted by: Cody Oshel | September 28, 2010 9:58 AM    Report this comment

Dave Miller: "The better question to ask is 'Why do we want to have more female pilots"? That is a social engineering issue, one of which I have absolutely no interest in."

Well, no, it's not. But I would have thought the answer to that would be self-evident in any case: "Because we want more pilots flying, period." It would seem to me that is a worthy goal in and of itself, if only from a professional self-interest perspective -- more eyes, more brains, more voices, and (most importantly) more wallets involved in the field. That making serious efforts to include women would also happen to be the right thing to do from a human perspective should be icing on the cake.

Like I said earlier, if you're happy with the way aviation looks right now, that's fine -- you're entitled to this view. I happen to believe, though, independently of any feminist tendencies I have, that aviation is too small and the barriers to entry too high for most people, and that anything we do to increase the size of the pilot population is a good thing, not "social engineering." It seems logical to consider whether there are reasons why groups who are underrepresented in existing certificate holders are, in fact, underrepresented -- and whether there are steps that we, as an industry and as an endeavour, can take to make things more welcoming to all.

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 28, 2010 10:04 AM    Report this comment

A number of people here have suggested that it is the engines / fuel / oil / mechanical stuff/ noise that cause airplanes to be more appealing to men than to women. I don't think so. I also fly sailplanes and hang gliders, and I'm familiar with paragliding - and those are at least as male-dominated, if not more so (sailplanes skew hugely male, paragliders have a ratio closer to powered aircraft).

Of course, hang gliding is seen as high-risk and women tend to be more risk-averse, but women evidently make up 15-20% of the skydiving population, so that's not it either.

Simple answers (risk aversion, engine noise, smelly oily fuels, purity of flight, pseudomilitary flight instruction in powered flying and soaring - but not hang gliding or paragliding) don't work. Natural preferences (the "women - and some men - ride horses; men - and some women - fly" theory) might, but we don't really know that.

My impression has been that most men would love to see more women take up flying as a sport. Of course, they'd also love to see more young people take it up, and yet GA airports have populations that look demographically similar to classical concert audiences. (It's more than once occurred to me that the way to get more young men interested in flying is to get more young women interested in it!)

Posted by: Finbar Sheehy | September 28, 2010 10:09 AM    Report this comment

Of all the issues that keep people from flying, I can't think of less important one than chromosomes.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Tailwinds always, Susan. Anyone who would even consider putting aside their own goal to fly for their granddaughter's long term benefit is tops in my book.

Simply having the desire to want to change something that you don't feel fits your concepts, Mike, by manipulating(or engineering, it's a synonym) groups like women, lawyers, whatever, is what I meant by social engineering. Maybe you wouldn't use that word, fine. I do not subscribe to a focus on groups as to a solution to your perceived problem with the size of GA today. I'll leave that to others so inclined. If I get an opportunity to fly a death-sentenced Doberman to a loving home, I will, or fly a kid or grandma for a half hour, I will. You really want to affect GA through groups? Learn Spanish or Chinese if you don't speak them already. It's later than you think.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 28, 2010 11:25 AM    Report this comment

Hey Walt... Yes, Look me up ( google too) or email me at erissayong@aol.com. I go by the name Erissa Yong-Wilson. I love to meet your wife and you up here. I will send you Susan and my Yukon flight Picasa album, with THE AVIATOR producer, John Lovelace. Hope you fly low in the Citation, and stop at CYPK, and we can share where to go in Northern BC and Alaska. MAY and June is a great time there. Summer is 23-24 hours of Daylight which is weird, and dusty. But the glaciers and Mtn.ranges are heavenly. The Kenai Peninsular has a couple of airports and I know the manager of one. That is why we fly...go to where we can be close to heaven. As for Chromosomes...there are some pilots who are way too Lombrosian here... and maybe a tat too atavistic. I always say, even tho there are no bold and old pilots, the bad ones are still around because they are just not real pilots. They just talk it and fly on the couch most nights with their potato chips. If they really fly the way they yap, they won't be alive. Flying is not about having Chromosomes and guts and balls...LIKE Riding and racing. It is not what is between your legs, but more what is between your ears that matters. So use the right organ, Please. The little head will always get you in trouble. It's been said before.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:29 AM    Report this comment

oh oh, WALT.... YES, I definitely want a L-39 Experience. Don't tease. For that I will fly in or fly commercial to do it. THAT would be SO AWESOME !! Thank you and thank Mrs. WOLTOSZ. Her name is not Winnie or Wendy, is it? WW+WW. LOL. I am also an EAA member and a Young Eagle's Flight leader. I Met Harrison Ford in Jackson Hole once and he exposed me to the EAA. I haven't seen him since. LOL

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:40 AM    Report this comment

You are correct... Dave Miller.... LEARN CHINESE.... we are being left behind. I spoke 7 Chinese dialects growing up in Asia ....stop speaking them when I came to Canada...fast forward,.... woke up one morning and everyone was speaking Chinese around me. Now I speak more Chinese and eat more chinese food then I did growing up. Like I said, How times have changed! Most of my Anglo Saxon neighbours left town to move to the midwest where they can communicate with their neighbours. No joke. In business today, unless you are fluent in Chinese or know about their culture and way of doing business, you are not making money. One reason why Canada did not have a recession in the last few years, is because of the influx of Chinese business here. Social engineering?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:50 AM    Report this comment

Wow, Erissa, from Lombrosian, and atavistic, to balls and little heads... where's my chips? You're a hoot. Don't let go of your yoke! :o)

Speaking of Mr. Ford, in reference to the side discussion on male/female appearances and who women really dress for, what his character said in the Beaver in his 40days/nites movie was, 'you know how a woman gets a man's attention? She shows up. We're guys, we're easy.' Works for me!

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 28, 2010 11:57 AM    Report this comment

I think the movie was 7 days, 6 nites and 1 bad afternoon or something, not 40 days/nites...

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 28, 2010 12:23 PM    Report this comment

There is a difference between being smart and having wisdom (since wise people never post their e-mail address in an open forum for all the web crawlers to collect). Aviation does not benefit if there are a higher percentage of women, it's women who would benefit. It's up to women, not to Aviation.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 12:34 PM    Report this comment

My impression is that the participation of women in skydiving is at least 20 percent and may be higher. But I've never seen any hand wringing about the need to get more women involved.

They just show up and do it. (And well, usually.) These women are the same ones that would be attracted to rock climbing, big wave surfing, hang gliding or any adventure sport and they tend not to be gender evangelizers, although there are a few women-only skydiving events. It would not occur to them that this sport is not open to them and for as macho as it sometimes seems to be, I don't see sexual harassment or hazing. The women I know in the sport--and that's a lot--wouldn't put up with and the little boys know that. Women show consistently better judgment in skydiving and thus are vastly under represented in accidents rates.

Although plain vanilla flying is by far more tame, I think the dynamic is identical. My guess is that if it appeals, women can and will do it. If it does not, they won't. Whatever sexual barriers that exist are minor and removing them strikes me as hardly worth the effort.

I would much rather spend sharply limited promotional dollars on attracting all people who can afford to fly rather than a gender-based marketing wild goose chase. Bluntly, flying is so expensive that you have to find the people with money. The industry is too small and currently too economically fragile to support much marketing stratification of any kind, much less gender-based.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 1:04 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I don't think the push is for women-only advertising. I believe the original theme was for those promoting aviation to be more inclusive in their image of who flies... and who COULD fly.

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious here: the women who write (and fly) say there's a problem, and many of the men who respond say no, there isn't. Anyone else think that's important?

Posted by: Donald Weber | September 28, 2010 1:28 PM    Report this comment

Men interact with women in a flying environment a relatively small percentage of the time, and if you're a man like most who has no "bad attitude" about it, you don't see the problem. Women interact with men in a flying environment most of the time - and with many different men, a small percent of whom will have that bad attitude. So their exposure to the opportunity for bad attitudes is much higher, and would result in a different perception of the prevalence of the problem. I don't think it's any different for other minority experiences - those of us without prejudices tend not to see them because we don't foster those attitudes ourselves nor do we hang out with those who do. But the minority person (which includes all of us in the right environment - I remember some experiences in foreign countries) is constantly in a position of exposure to opportunity for prejudice. So give the gals a break - just because you don't see it to the same extent they do doesn't mean it's trivial. Or that it's OK because it's at a low level (in your view).

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 1:45 PM    Report this comment

There is no evidence of "sexism" at all. I attend several open houses at flight schools and they all promote "family" involvement. Fly-ins also promote "family" involvement. Does anyone have an instance where kids or women were NOT welcome at events that promote pilot training? Anyone? Where is the sexism?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Mark -- with due respect, as a guy, *YOU* do not get to decide how welcoming flying is to women, or whether there's sexism in aviation. Neither do I, for that matter. But when someone says "hey, this doesn't feel right," I have an obligation to take that complaint seriously, evaluate whether I've done enough to address it, and then encourage other people to take similar steps, too. Even if I don't have direct experience with their complaint.

Donald Weber got it pretty much right: "The women who write (and fly) say there's a problem, and many of the men who respond say no, there isn't. Anyone else think that's important?" Yup. Walt Woltosz's comment -- "just because you don't see it to the same extent they do doesn't mean it's trivial" -- is exactly correct.

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 28, 2010 2:08 PM    Report this comment

So OK, sucked me back in. Have to say bravo to what transpired while I was gone ~ well, except to Mark who needs to expand his perspective a bit. We're all entitled to our own of course ... but suffice it to say I applaud the attitudes/thoughts of Mike and Walt.

Dave - thanks. And saying Erissa Yong is a "hoot" is perhaps the understatement of the century. One of the most real human beings I've ever met; what you see & hear is what you get. Few more generous (and funny) people have ever crossed my path. Flying the Yukon with her took amusement and adventure to an entirely new level. Forever grateful for the experience. Paul: "My guess is that if it appeals, women can and will do it. If it does not, they won't. Whatever sexual barriers that exist are minor and removing them strikes me as hardly worth the effort." This coming from you, in your position, frankly concerns me a little. And is indicative of exactly the problem(s)I'm speaking to. GA will die with it.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 2:28 PM    Report this comment

Still no sale with me. Gender-based marketing--and that's one point the author made--works for some products because that's the demographic. But I challenge you to do this exercise: Go to every web site of every major manufacturer. It will take you five minutes.

You will find gender-neutral promotion. Airplane pix, mainly. Then page through AOPA Pilot for September. Ditto. In fact, the lead author pix is a woman. The end piece profile is--a woman. And look, there's a picture of Martha King. (Out of the handcuffs.) They could use more women authors.

So the exposure is there, alright. I'm not buying that there's significant institutional pushback sufficient to mount a major effort to reverse it. There might be a little.

I have a lot of women pilot friends and colleagues who have dealt with other than the likes of me. I haven't heard of a pattern of harassment or sexism. They haven't told me how hard it was to break into aviation. Maybe I'm just too insensitive to notice.

Bottom line: there are better ways to grow the industry than this. Although it might have a place if you can prove out the numbers. Otherwise, I just think it's a feel-good exercise with questionable return on investment.

I certainly wouldn't object if someone wanted to try and prove me wrong.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 2:36 PM    Report this comment

Mark - no evidence of sexism at all? Maybe not in your little corner of the world, but in my little corner, I've seen it first-hand. Not a lot, granted, but it's there. From the jerk on an airliner with his snide remark about hoping the female captain "can actually fly this thing" to the (very few) comments about Heather Penney flying in the jet class at Reno a couple weeks ago (by the way, she flew F-16's in Iraq, and she's cute and blonde - so you can only imagine what she's had to put up with to get where she is). And the occasional "another empty kitchen" heard over the radio after a female airline pilot communicates with ATC. It's there, and there are other instances reported by the ladies here.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 2:40 PM    Report this comment

It occurred to me that a direct analogy to flying might help to make my point(s) a bit better: You're cruising along at 4,000' with a passenger, who is brand-new to light aircraft, when you run into turbulence. (We'll call it light-to-moderate chop, so as to identify something we all experience on a regular basis and most of us think is no big problem.) The passenger pipes up on the intercom and says, "Hey, this turbulence is really bad. I'm kinda scared."

There are a few things you can do: You can change altitudes. You can re-route. You could, if the passenger was ready to freak out, decide to discontinue the flight and wait until things get better. You could do any or all of those things while saying, "I didn't realize it was that bad; I guess I don't feel turbulence any more. Tell you what, the next time we go flying, I'll try to plan it so we minimize our chances of dealing with this, and you let me know when things get uncomfortable for you."

You could also tell the passenger, "What turbulence?" and keep flying. Or you could say, "It's good for you -- toughens you up!"

Which option you choose will depend entirely on how much respect you accord your passengers, and whether it matters to you whether they'll climb into your airplane again. But, ultimately, it's really up to you how you choose to deal with that situation.

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 28, 2010 2:55 PM    Report this comment

"Mark -- with due respect, as a guy, *YOU* do not get to decide how welcoming flying is to women"

I agree. If women don't feel welcome then it's their problem. Women don't seem to realize that men ALSO get lots of teasing in aviation. Aviation is full of "comments" about other pilot's abilities to their family heritage. It's part of the flavor of aviation.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 2:59 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

I took you up on your challenge. In a few minutes looking at Cessna & Cirrus's websites, I do see a lot of airplane pix. Of the pics that do have people, women are invariably pictured as passengers. Men are passengers, but are also pictured looking into engines and working on the interior of the aircraft. There are a few pics that show the back of a head in the cockpit; they appeared to be male, but the pics were too small.

Try again. No gender-neutral advertising there.

Posted by: Katrina L | September 28, 2010 3:01 PM    Report this comment

If those are the only reactions by the pilot, and he shows an inability to still feel turbulence, leaving out the one that empathizes with the passengers' fear, the passenger should never fly with him again. But never fly again? Therein lies the rub, no?

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 28, 2010 3:06 PM    Report this comment

Mike & Walt, thank you. As for Mark.. "If women don't feel welcome then it's their problem." So why are you posting here? Obviously you don't care about this issue.

Posted by: Katrina L | September 28, 2010 3:10 PM    Report this comment

With all due respect Paul "Whatever sexual barriers that exist are minor and removing them strikes me as hardly worth the effort." No. Forget the target marketing. Look at what I originally wrote - let's take the sexism elephant out of the closet. Yes for gender-neutral, makes a fair playing field. I'm speaking to examples of sexism I've seen, heard, experienced in the aviation world. You're putting your head in the sand to say it & the barriers it creates are minor - not worth the effort to overcome the problem. You're a representative of GA; a writer; an opinion shaper. I'm saddened to hear you feel that way. Re-read what Walt & Mike wrote - rightful acknowledgement of the issues. GA can't survive w/o increasing its participatory base. It's dying off. Where's the new blood? GREAT to get kids involved, but then they've got to be able to afford it; parents have to be able to support them in their passion & financially. Tough deal. How can you say it's hardly worth the effort to deal with the issue of sexism in the aviation world & how it affects not only women today, but the girls who will be women in the future? Not looking for coddling of women here. A female needing that is going to make a piss poor pilot. What I AM looking for? Is some good ol' healthy respect shown. Male GA pilots - with a woman pilot or aspiring one - make no assumptions; can the sexist jokes; show respect. Ditto for the commercial aviation world. That's not hard. Piece of cake for a gentleman :)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 3:13 PM    Report this comment

OK. Do the second part of the exercise and look at AOPA Pilot.

Then demonstrate for me numbers that would be convincing for a gender-based ad campaign that would deliver. In the end, it's about the money, not gender equality.

And I guess we're not looking at the same pix, because I couldn't find what you described. At least on the Cirrus site. Or are you seeing what you want to see?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 3:14 PM    Report this comment

"I agree. If women don't feel welcome then it's their problem. Women don't seem to realize that men ALSO get lots of teasing in aviation. Aviation is full of "comments" about other pilot's abilities to their family heritage. It's part of the flavor of aviation." REALLY Mark? REALLY? I would like to nominate you and your attitude as poster child for exactly what I'm speaking to. That part of the "flavor" of aviation; this "get over it, you're too sensitive" attitude by male GA jocks, is exactly what I'm speaking to. There is the subtle sexism that Katrina just rightly pointed out - then there's the blatant ones found in attitudes such as yours. I can tease with the best of them - give and take - and have with pilots many times. When it's done with humor and RESPECT - great. But I've had it done to me when it's not; I've observed it done to others when it's not; I've interviewed successful professional female aviators that have had it done to them when it's not. They do not consider it part of the "flavor of aviation."

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 3:22 PM    Report this comment

>>You're a representative of GA; a writer; an opinion shaper.<<

Here's the deal Susan and why you might not be able to make traction with this idea. The very fact that my experiences over 40 years in the industry have caused to me have a different opinion or outlook that varies with yours leads you to falsely conclude that I am not respecting you or women.

If I do not automatically agree with you, I am therefore part of the problem? I am relatively open minded on this subject, but my experiences are just different than yours. So you imply that I am intolerant with my head is in the sand while at the same time you automatically assume your experiences are more aligned with the truth and thus everything else is simply...wrong.

Yet at the same time, I'm the guy who actively sought out to hire women flight instructors at the flightschool I ran and I'm the guy who who always puts the editor resumes from women on the top of the pile because against all sense of fairness, I give them priority.

As an opinion leader, I don't have to be lockstep with you or anyone else to support you or anyone else. That's why they call them opinions.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 3:26 PM    Report this comment

Dave: So we agree the passenger has a reason to not get back into that pilot's airplane again. But who was responsible for developing that mindset? Is the passenger a coward? Did the passenger not feel the turbulence? Was the passenger's fear irrational, or irrelevant, or unfounded because the pilot didn't feel the same way? Is it the passenger's fault they never want to set foot in a small airplane again?

Or was the pilot an insensitive pinhead who showed absolutely no regard for the concerns of those entrusted to their care? You know, the primary responsibility when carrying passengers?

We don't feel turbulence anymore. That's our privilege as pilots. It's also our privilege, as men, to not experience or understand the pervasive nature of sexism in society at large -- which translates into areas like aviation where we think we're doing a good job. (We never are, but that's a separate issue.) The human thing to do is to check that privilege, *LISTEN* when someone says something's wrong, and see if you can do anything about it.

Paul: So... you're happy with the size of the GA economy, then, and not inclined to try growing that customer base until you *know* it's going to result in increased revenue? How's that G100UL working out, again?

Posted by: Mike Sugimoto | September 28, 2010 3:27 PM    Report this comment

Paul, it's at this point we hit the brick wall. Catch-22 - if I point out you are in a position to affect GA's attitude in this dep't, you won't because you don't agree with me. If I say you hold that opinion because you are male, I'm being sexist. How do we get out of this? How can you read this discussion & not agree there's a problem? It's bigger than my opinion, or yours. All I know at a gut level is I'm not wrong in knowing there IS a problem. I'm thrilled you've done what you've done to help women. But in a way you prove my point - WHY should you HAVE to "seek out women flight instructors?" Why should the women HAVE to be put at the top of the pile? Know why Paul? Cuz if you didn't? It would be - all guys. Seriously, I respect your opinion. I just don't know how to break through and fix this. And it does, need long-term - to get fixed.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 3:35 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

I was primarily speaking of Cessna's pics although I looked at both websites. I'm not doing any more assignments of yours; it appears Mark is in "good" company.

Posted by: Katrina L | September 28, 2010 3:36 PM    Report this comment

"So why are you posting here? Obviously you don't care about this issue."

The question was about the need for everyone in aviation to change just to satisfy someones idea of percentages. No, I don't care to "target" advertising based on sex when sex is not the focus of aviation. Manufactures can't even sell new planes to 99.8% of the male population so I doubt if a "solution" is to put average looking women in the advertising in the left seat.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 28, 2010 3:38 PM    Report this comment

Bertorelli gets it right--maybe that's why he's the writer!

Target marketing--Good. "Gender based"--no thanks. "Gender neutral"--should be the norm.

Like Bertorelli, I have over 20 female former employees that went on to become pro pilots. I haven't heard a complaint of institutional sexism from one of them--except that one of them said she had to admonish the co-pilot from staring at her chest--something that I would guess happens anywhere.

As a former skydiver and jump pilot, I also agree with his assessment of skydivers--women make up an increasing percentage of skydivers. As several studies show, women over the years have had DIFFERENT kinds of accidents than men--and that has been alleviated by equipment and training. In the early years, women were killed disproportionately by "no pull" accidents--training and emergency automatic opening devices has done away with the difference. Today, skydiving is safer than ever, and most people are not killed by parachute failure, but by landing accidents.

Bertorelli is right--we can't afford to fractionalize our promotion. Expose PEOPLE to aviation--those with an interest will be attracted--those without never will.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 3:47 PM    Report this comment

Finbar Sheehey also gets it right when he says that gliders prove that it isn't the mechanical issues that keep female pilot percentages low. Like airplanes, it does tend to be male-dominated. Side note: My wife is a private pilot--but enjoys flying gliders. I asked her why--"Because I don't have to manage the engine." I wouldn't have thought of that.

Balloons have a high percentage of women pilots--even though they are heavy and work-intensive to fly and crew. Why are women attracted to balloons more than airplanes?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 3:49 PM    Report this comment

Unbelievable. I'm grateful there are at least some of you participating in this thread who will read Jim Hanson's: "Like Bertorelli, I have over 20 female former employees that went on to become pro pilots. I haven't heard a complaint of institutional sexism from one of them--except that one of them said she had to admonish the co-pilot from staring at her chest--something that I would guess happens anywhere" ... and agree we have another example of exactly what I'm talking about. In arguing your own side? You're proving exactly what I'm speaking to. And I agree too we don't need to fractionalize promotion - just sell "flying!" But then don't disrespect the percentage of the people you attract that happen to have those chests that everybody, everywhere seems to want to stare at.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 3:58 PM    Report this comment

So... you're happy with the size of the GA economy, then, and not inclined to try growing that customer base until you *know* it's going to result in increased revenue? <<

That's an obtuse idea, Mike. When we market a new publication or mail to an existing aviation list, we test the sample first before committing hundreds of thousands to to the full roll out.

Same idea here. If you decided you were going to spend your limited promotional dollars--and in aviation, they are sharply limited--you want to know what the return is likely to be.

My gut tells me a gender-based promotion would yield less return than a "people" based promotion that appealed to cross-gender interests. I dunno...sense of adventure, freedom to travel, whatever.

I could be wrong. But I'd want to test it first before jollying off on a grand idea that we're gonna drag a lot of women into aviation by just showing them checking the oil. I don't think that makes me a sexist pig. Just a hardheaded...pig.

And by the way, when I speak of return on investment, I'm talking about pilot starts. Revenue is a complete crap shoot beyond this discussion.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 4:01 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

Marketing doesn't have to be targeted only to women to be appealing to women. I've seen this a million times in my own field, bicycling.

Put a healthy, competent-looking good-looking middle-aged woman on a bike, grab your camera, and you have a photo that appeals to both men and women. The reactions I've gotten from both genders are uniformly positive.

Do the same with an airplane. I promise similar results.

There's a cumulative effect when people see people like themselves engaged in an activity. They feel more welcome in that activity.

Men already like the activity, and invariably crave the company of women who enjoy their hobbies. So the ads work for them too.

I don't expect female percentage parity in the pilot population. Among the reasons: it's a big time commitment, especially for working mothers. But certainly we can narrow the gap.

Posted by: John Schubert | September 28, 2010 4:07 PM    Report this comment

How about including women checking the oil; flying left seat ~ just because they're human beings and pilots, just like the guys? Is that too naive and simple? Why does it have to be "gender based" marketing to simply show male and female pilots in fairly equal percentages, in print ads?

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Yeah, but Susan, there's a difference between sexism and sexual behavior. You can address the former dispassionately, but to expect girls and boys to stop staring at each other is hopeless. Different conversation.

And you're right, there is a paradox in my tendency to favor female hires, but again, I am a product of my experience. I think the percentages are higher for women being better teachers whether it's flying or firearms. That has been my life experience. I tend to act on it, I guess. It is, itself, a prejudice.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 4:13 PM    Report this comment

>>good-looking middle-aged woman on a bike<<

Why does she have to be good looking? (You may plead the 5th on this, if you like.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 4:16 PM    Report this comment

So first, a comment for Jim Hanson: Jim, if you haven't met Lynda Meeks in person -- you're really tooting up the wrong tree with the comment about "pink" websites, etc.

My favorite "Lynda story" is from this year at Oshkosh, while a reporter was interviewing her, a male pilot walked into the booth and asked Lynda's friend manning the booth, "So do you fly airplanes?"

Lynda, without missing a beat in the interview, turned around and said, "Sir, that young lady has three tours of duty in Iraq flying the United States Army's UH-60 Blackhawk." and went back to her interview.

Lynda is definitely a driving force behind getting more women involved in aviation, and the guy who bumbled into the booth, wasn't attempting to be malicious, he was just completely clueless.

I think that's one of the points I'd like to make to the women who are "disgusted" with some of the male's comments here. We really are clueless. We're also goal and action-oriented.

Complaining to most males that there's "a problem" without offering concrete actionable things we can do about it, usually goes over our heads.

Posted by: Nathan Duehr | September 28, 2010 4:25 PM    Report this comment

Nathan says"comment for Jim Hanson: Jim, if you haven't met Lynda Meeks in person -- you're really tooting up the wrong tree with the comment about "pink" websites, etc. "

Well, Nathan--I DIDN'T talk about the requirement for "pink websites"--Meeks did. So what's your issue? Nobody disparaged Meeks--only the fact that SHE advocates pink websites and cartoon characters--an accurate assessment.

Susan says " I'm grateful there are at least some of you participating in this thread who will read Jim Hanson's: "Like Bertorelli, I have over 20 female former employees that went on to become pro pilots. I haven't heard a complaint of institutional sexism from one of them--except that one of them said she had to admonish the co-pilot from staring at her chest--something that I would guess happens anywhere" ... and agree we have another example of exactly what I'm talking about."

Does it make a difference if the action described happened in the cockpit, the workplace, or any OTHER place? That's my point--aviation is no different than any OTHER place when it comes to overt action. Note also that I didn't CONDONE it. Talk about "Shoot the messenger"! It appears that those who see "sexism" as widespread and prevalent won't even have us DISCUSS the issue--anyone that disagrees MUST be "sexist" by their definition. (sarcasm)

Never mind that Bertorelli or I have hired more female pilots and encouraged them to go on to pro careers than all of those "hand-wringers" combined.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 4:45 PM    Report this comment

How about including women checking the oil; flying left seat ~ just because they're human beings and pilots, just like the guys? Is that too naive and simple? Why does it have to be "gender based" marketing to simply show male and female pilots in fairly equal percentages, in print ads?<<

Doesn't. That would be easy to do, actually. Not sure how effective it would be, but it couldn't hurt.

I was reacting to the author's example of Harley-Davidson's marketing effort to women. That's an entirely different demographic, product segment and marketing effort. I'm not saying it couldn't work, just that my gut tells me it would not.

And Nathan, you may be clueless...but speak for yourself, not the rest of us. If ya don't mind...

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 28, 2010 5:01 PM    Report this comment

Paul, gender-based marketing in the Google Ads's new world is not an out-of-this world expense. However, I would settle for more depiction of women as enthusiastic and equally evolved participants at all levels, which is not the case at this time.

Not advertising rarely brings growth. When there is a will, there is a way. I believe that this industry is composed of resourceful people who can figure out how to make happen within budget if they choose to. Why the aviation industry seems so reluctant to do what the motorcycle and the boating industries have done successfully puzzles me.

The "if you want it, it is available" message common in aviation that I have read in some posts is inappropriate in a luxury industry and I believe explains in part its current state. Aviation is a luxury industry. Luxury industries have to fight for the business of the few people with the means to be customers.

Moreover, when someone comes to an airport knowing they are going to spend $200 a hour, they expect to be treated as well as they would be at any other businesses that offers services at the rate of $200 per hour. Are we offering an experience with the same level of quality as these other services are, especially for women?

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 28, 2010 5:41 PM    Report this comment

ANYONE willing to spend $200 an hour is treated well at my FBO. Why "especially" for women?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:00 PM    Report this comment

Underlying truth for me: even if we're disagreeing in this discussion guys? The fact that you're here, discussing it at all, is huge. Thank you; it's a start. This is NOT an easy subject. And yes, it could of course be applied to many other areas of life. No argument. But at its core, my reason for bringing it up is this: sexism IMO directly affects the NUMBER of women who participate in GA; affects who will. No not all are affected, but enough are it matters. Why? At risk of sounding like broken record, GA is dying. Anyone paying attention shouldn’t argue the statement & it should matter to AvWeb, AOPA, etc. Loved the story Nathan shared about Lynda setting the reporter straight. Anyone see the film 16R? Childrens Hosp Copter pilot Stacy Sheard. Also flew Blackhawks; now a Sikorski test pilot. Beautiful person inside & out. I spent a day interviewing her. To say what she shared about her experiences has influenced my opinion, cemented thoughts I already had, is an understatement. Just keep the dialogue going Paul – maybe address the issue outright in print more often; air it; let people do exactly what we’re doing here. And yes – hopefully even if they don’t agree, men will maybe have it in their consciousness, & think twice about how they interact w/female aviators. We’ll joke, even take sexual innuendo & dish it too under the right circumstances. But what’s the “intent” behind it? Too often it’s condescending, demeaning & disrespectful. That hurts everyone in aviation.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 6:04 PM    Report this comment

Mike- 1.pilot 2.unknown 3.no 4.no,no,no 5.no 6.yes

Please refer to my earlier posts of suggestions to handle the aviation buffoons. They will always be among us. Cheers

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 28, 2010 6:05 PM    Report this comment

Mireille--"I would settle for more depiction of women as enthusiastic and equally evolved participants at all levels, which is not the case at this time."

You want women depicted as EQUAL PARTICIPANTS--yet you state that they are only 6% of the pilot population. We've all acknowledged that they aren't participating equally--yet you think that they should be depicted that way?

That reeks of hypocrisy. That is "Political Correctness"--depicting something that is not true--depicting something as you WISH it was, not what it IS. That is TOKENISM--mandating that a quota be established and kept in advertising. That is VICTIMIZATION--an unspoken statement that women couldn't make it on their own without outside help. Most women pro pilots would rail at the thought of that.

Far from HELPING women--it would be a setback.

I'm curious how you would institute this requirement for certain actions and parity in gender of people portrayed in advertisements? Would you institute a type of Federal "Fairness Doctrine"? An "Advertisizing Czar"? (sarcasm)

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:11 PM    Report this comment

Mireille, respectfully, maybe this you state is part of the bigger issue: "Aviation is a luxury industry. Luxury industries have to fight for the business of the few people with the means to be customers." Do you really believe that? If so, regardless of the sexism & woman issue, GA is probably doomed. Seriously. No brainer that it's expensive, but a "luxury industry?" Please tell me you leave room for the little local airports & the pilots who scrape up enough to keep the Luscumbe in the air? If I wasn't the age I am - if I didn't have other obligations & a spouse to consider? I'd live my life to afford an airplane - wouldn't have to be fancy - and fly.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Jim: I'll quote you since you want to act like you said nothing disparaging about Lynda's website...

"AOPA magazine had a related story this month about a former Netjets pilot encouraging girls to fly. She made a comment about "the website is designed with pink and pastel colors ('you can't motivate girls with red and black') and features a cartoon of "Penelope Pilot". That's adding to the stereotype, and does nothing to motivate girls in a job or hobby that is performance oriented and requires constant checks and tests. The FAA doesn't care what gender you are, or your color--either you can fly or you can't."

You say that Lynda's website is "adding to the stereotype". What stereotype? That little girls in our society often like the color pink?

You continue with, "does nothing to motivate girls in a job or hobby that is performance oriented".

People who like pink can't pass checkrides? Is that your point?

How are the two thoughts related at all?

The pink website is MARKETING... just like many aviation groups have marketed to males over the years.

Lynda interests at a young age with "Hey, I can be a pilot?" Isn't that the whole point of reaching out to any gender young person?

Lynda and her friends are FAR from stereotypical... unless of course you're a modern multi-engine military helicopter pilot who's also flown the Citation X.

Posted by: Nathan Duehr | September 28, 2010 6:14 PM    Report this comment

Jim, I *think* (certainly don't mean to speak for her) Mireille meant what I brought up about just showing women more in the ads: "How about including women checking the oil; flying left seat ~ just because they're human beings and pilots, just like the guys? Is that too naive and simple? Why does it have to be "gender based" marketing to simply show male and female pilots in fairly equal percentages, in print ads?" And Paul to his credit, came back with: “Doesn't. That would be easy to do, actually. Not sure how effective it would be, but it couldn't hurt.” You argue she wants them shown as equal participants yet they're only 6% of the pilot population. Well yeah, that's the whole problem we're trying to figure out how to fix here. And maybe showing them as being as normal as a male pilot ... might help?

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 6:20 PM    Report this comment

Mireille--"I believe that this industry is composed of resourceful people who can figure out how to make happen within budget if they choose to."

You say that these are resoureful people that can figure out how to make it happen within budget if they choose to--then want special programs to encourage them to learn to fly? If they are resourceful enough to handle the BUDGET of flying, they are resourceful enough to figure out how to LEARN to fly.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:32 PM    Report this comment

Mireille continues ""Why the aviation industry seems so reluctant to do what the motorcycle and the boating industries have done successfully puzzles me."

How long have you been in the industry, Mireille? There are HUGE differences between the aviation industry and the motorcycle or boating industry. Among them: Cost:--a new bike or boat can be purchased for half a year's salary for the average person. An airplane?

Training: You can get the keys to the boat and head out with NO training--and a bike will take only a little if you don't have an endorsement. No recurrent training for a boat or a bike.

Storage: You can keep your boat or bike in a garage--but you need an hangar (and associated expense) for an airplane.

Medical: None required for a boat or a bike, but an aviation medical requires a couple of hundred dollars to keep up.

Regulation: Very little regulatory pressure for a boat. A bike is covered by the rules of the road used for your driver's license. Compare that to the VOLUMES of FARs and the potential liability of any mis-steps in operating your airplane.

Maintenance: No annual inspections for your boat or bike--contrast that with maintaining an airplane. Compare the cost of airplane parts and boat or bike parts.

No, the ONLY thing that airplanes have in common with bikes and boats is that they use discretionary income and time--other than that, they couldn't be farther apart.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:33 PM    Report this comment

Jim -- I believe that women in aviation are participating equally in terms of personal involvement. I am not sure what you see as deceiving in representing that. Are you suggesting that the representation should be 6% of the advertising space to be fair? Well, that would probably be better than what it is today since the video that I viewed had a 4% depiction of women involvement.

Susan -- a luxury item is described as something that is not necessary for basic survival and bought based on disposable income. I think aviation fits in that category (with some exceptions).

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 28, 2010 6:33 PM    Report this comment

Susan: Just to re-iterate, the reporter was interviewing, the person who was "set straight" was a visitor to the booth who believed that Lynda's friend who was watching the booth while the interview was taking place, maybe just learned to "fly airplanes". Lynda interrupted the interview to let the visitor know the person he was talking to was a 3-tour Veteran of our Armed Forces.

Paul: I knew one of us ego-centric pilots would get all grumpy about the "we're clueless" comment. Never met a pilot who'd admit it, but we're all clueless about something. ;-)

Posted by: Nathan Duehr | September 28, 2010 6:40 PM    Report this comment

Has anyone noticed that half the students in medical schools are now women? How many people would have predicted THAT 40 years ago? And many thousands of men now have terrific careers as nurses (now that they don't have to wear those little white caps). Gender roles do evolve to the better when society lets them. Paul, in response to "why good looking..." Notice I didn't say "sexpot in tight clothes." When women dress for business, they look good and tone down the sexiness. That's what I mean. Ads are full of pictures of pleasant-looking, professional-looking people of both genders. When I'm viewing advertisements, I normally prefer it if the people in the ads, regardless of gender, are younger, thinner, have more hair than I. Switching out one model in an ad for Aeroshell isn't going to change the situation overnight, but over time, what people see changes people's expectations. I don't share Jim Henson's dislike of the concept, nor do I buy his strawman argument that this would be made mandatory by federal law.

Posted by: John Schubert | September 28, 2010 6:44 PM    Report this comment

I'm trying to think if there are ways I could help get more people in general into flying, and women are included in that plan, and are more than welcome.

Got a podcast up, got a website up, try to have fun with it all, have no fiscal interest in it, it's not a business...

Also try to explain to folks that ownership in aircraft with partial ownership via an LLC *is* possible, and you don't need any special website selling you a $250K fractional Cirrus to do that...

Our 35 year old C-182 is just fine! 13 GPH is a bit painful at times, but so what... I can fly a lot of hours for the difference in the price of something newer/flashier!

Is the DESIRE to fly there for many Gen X & Gen Y folks? I think so. Although, perhaps when they read articles like this they think, "Aviation is full of people who aren't having any fun."

Perhaps that's the real disservice of this article?

Are we having fun? I've noticed a distinct tendency for large hobby organizations to be very "un-fun" lately. I'm tired of AOPA PAC asking for money to "fight" Washington, for example.

Either we're all out flying and having fun, or we're all here whining about gender issues on the web.

If my airplane weren't in need of maintenance, I'd head to the airport, and anyone ... male or female, would be welcome to come along.

Posted by: Nathan Duehr | September 28, 2010 6:49 PM    Report this comment

John--you must have missed the SARCASM sign I included for the sarcasm-impaired. Here it is again.

I'm curious how you would institute this requirement for certain actions and parity in gender of people portrayed in advertisements? Would you institute a type of Federal "Fairness Doctrine"? An "Advertisizing Czar"? (sarcasm)

See how that works?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:50 PM    Report this comment

But Mireille, don't you see that "image" only makes it all harder? That might be the technical definition, but fair to say that GA especially already has a reputation for being the "rich man's hobby." Can't tell you how many people I've spoken with as a writer that say that to me, "oh somebody flies? Must be a really rich guy." Drive another stake into GA's heart. Yet I talk with the most humble aviators who are out there polishing up the older plane, sacrificing to afford to keep it, who hardly fit that stereotype (and yes some are women)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 6:50 PM    Report this comment

Nathan posted "Jim: I'll quote you since you want to act like you said nothing disparaging about Lynda's website...

"AOPA magazine had a related story this month about a former Netjets pilot encouraging girls to fly. She made a comment about "the website is designed with PINK AND PASTEL COLORS ('you can't motivate girls with red and black') and features a cartoon of "Penelope Pilot". That's adding to the stereotype, and does nothing to motivate girls in a job or hobby that is performance oriented and requires constant checks and tests. The FAA doesn't care what gender you are, or your color--either you can fly or you can't."

You say that Lynda's website is "adding to the stereotype". What stereotype? That little girls in our society often like the color pink? "

I hate to break it to you, Nathan, but it was MEEKS who said "Pink and pastel". I put it in caps for you above. (laugh)

MOST women pilots I know are of the opinion "can't we get past pink for women?"

Nathan continues "You continue with, "does nothing to motivate girls in a job or hobby that is performance oriented".

People who like pink can't pass checkrides? Is that your point? "

Tell us, Nathan--does this industry NOT have a lot of checkrides and performance evaluations? Can you show me where I said anything about "People who like pink not being able to pass checkrides"? Where did THAT come from? Is English a second language for you?

Bertorelli was right--you ARE clueless.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 6:58 PM    Report this comment

Jim: Great comment... "a new bike or boat can be purchased for half a year's salary for the average person."

That's EXACTLY what it would take to really revive GA.

Posted by: Nathan Duehr | September 28, 2010 7:07 PM    Report this comment

Susan--showing equal number of participants when that isn't true is deceiving--and should NEVER be mandated. We shouldn't have quotas for portraying ANY section of the population for PC reasons. What's next--a "Mandate" for inclusion of Asian pilots, Latino pilots, Black pilots, wheelchair pilots, gay pilots, Native American pilots, or any OTHER affinity group based on their percentage of the population? That comes off as pandering.

I agree with Bertorelli--you COULD do it, but I don't think it will help (based on 48 years in the aviation business)--and I object to the setting of "quotas."

There are a hundred better ways to promote aviation than to pander. Maybe Paul will open a seperate thread on the subject.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 7:09 PM    Report this comment

Nathan--I don't think that being able to buy an airplane for HALF a year's salary is do-able--as Vern Raeburn found out with Eclipse, you just can't get the volume up high enough on a hand-build product like an airplane.

That said, I think an attainable goal is to build a new airplane for something over ONE year's salary. When Champs and Cubs were produced post-war, they cost about one year's salary (and didn't have electrical or gyro systems--or radios installed). As recently as 1960, a Cessna 172 could be purchased for a little over $10,000--a year's salary for someone with a salary slightly over average.

Today, a new Skyhawk goes out the door for $297,000 average equipped--yet few people make that kind of money. Worse yet--in 1960, most people paid about $1000 in Federal taxes on their $10,000 salary, and perhaps half that in State taxes. There were no sales taxes, and Social Security took only a couple of percent. The upshot: In 1960, you could afford to buy that Skyhawk with a year's salary, and you could do so because you got to KEEP most of what you made.

To make flying affordable, we need a combination of government regulatory reform, liability reform, and tax reform. LSA dabbled in reform--but the rest of the reforms will have to be accomplished before aviation takes off.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 7:20 PM    Report this comment

Jim Hanson said above... "ANYONE willing to spend $200 an hour is treated well at myFBO.Why "especially" for women?

Where is your FBO, Jim ? Love to come and spend an hour feeling special treated well. Cheaper than the Pink Spa I go to to get my nails painted and feet pampered.... LOL I am thinking of repainting my plane. Don't think the red and blue on white is unique. Too common. Never like pink helmets my girlfriends ride their Harley with. But I think a Pink plane would be an outstanding color. Definitely easier to spot if I go down in snow covered terrain. Bright Pink is good.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 7:23 PM    Report this comment

Jim --- I'm not talking about mandating anything; not talking about quotas; not talking about anything other than perhaps a bit more occasionally than occurs now, showing a woman doing with an airplane what women DO with airplanes - like change oil, sit left seat as PIC. Not looking for pandering - looking rightly for a bit more truthful balance. Again, don't separate us out in advertising, just show us as fellow human beings - being aviators. That's the whole point of all this. A woman who trains, applies herself, passes her exams & is certified as a pilot - is no different other than her plumbing for the sake of this argument - than a man, and she has just as much reason to be included/shown as such in print advertising, as anyone else.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 28, 2010 7:25 PM    Report this comment

Wow, Erissa, from Lombrosian, and atavistic, to balls and little heads... where's my chips? You're a hoot. Don't let go of your yoke! :o)

Hey Dave M. Thanks for the cheers... Sometimes I let go of the yoke. Trim it out first, or put it on Autopilot and all is well. I think you are all a hoot. This is good therapy junction. Since I been reading this forum the last 24 hours ( and posting), I have cancelled my Thursday appointment with my Psychiatrist. Heck, last nite I didn't even need my regular dose of Prozac. Keep it up and I could actually save enough money to go visit that $200 an hour FBO soon. But I think I will use the money to go fly the L-39 with Walt Woltosz. ( I still can get over how great that name sound rolling off my tongue all afternoon while I was driving to work). Visualizing flying in the L-39 got me so high, I forgot about the usual road rage I partake of each day. Thanks Walt.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 7:39 PM    Report this comment

Erissa--you are welcome any time to Albert Lea, MN. (KAEL) We can fly a Grob 103 glider, Lake Amphib, balloon, Kitfox on skis, or my old Cessna 120 that I bought when I was 17.

Susan--you don't want pandering--and we shouldn't--but if you REALLY want truth in advertising, you portray it as it IS, not as you WISH it were--and that doesn't equate to an equal number of men and women. Again--"not that there's anything wrong with that"--it just isn't accurate, and I don't believe it will work.

You state that "a woman who trains, applies herself, passes her exams is certified as a pilot--no different other than her plumbing." That has been my point all along.

I think we are nit-picking here--talking about who should or shouldn't be included in advertising. Much better to concentrate on more effective ways to promote aviation--and there are hundreds.

As for promoting women pilots--I think my record speaks for itself with the number I have employed and mentored. If you come down with Erissa, you will see that I have TWICE hosted the women's Air Race Classic. Just last weekend, we hosted the Minnesota/Iowa joint meeting of the 99s.

Some people TALK about promotion. Others DO it.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 28, 2010 7:42 PM    Report this comment

This is a silly article... I don't see a push to get more men into sewing or knitting. If women are interested in flying the door is wide open, and if men are interested in sewing, the door is wide open.

When it comes to advertising that's a bunch of BS too. How come there aren't men using the bedazzler in those infomercials?

And when it comes to dress code, that's a no win battle. The dress code is business conservative and that exists in most proffesional enviorments. Don't say the women have to dress like men, that's not true and weather your a ship captain of an airplane pilot, jackets have been the way it's always been and will be. It's not safe to be wearing shorts or skirts when your flying anyways.

That fact is a majority of people on earth are not interested in flying period and so what if there are less women pilots? The fact is flying is open to any and all who are interested. Let it be and except the fact a majority of women just aren't interested in flying like I'm not interested in knitting blankets.. it's just the way it is.

No need to try and jam stuff down people's throats. If you want something bad enough in life, you will find a way to do it.

Aviation dosn't discriminate or give into any special treatment, it's a job that's serious and can have disastrous results if taken lightly.

Posted by: Karl Gugenhiemer | September 28, 2010 7:44 PM    Report this comment

"(since wise people never post their e-mail address in an open forum for all the web crawlers to collect). "

You talking to me, Mark Fraser?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 7:45 PM    Report this comment

OH Jimmy... A hearty THANK YOU. I will fly to pick Susan up some day when the WX is good ( it rains a lot in Vancouver and Seattle)... and come fly with you. What I LOVE about these forums is that I get to meet so many great flyers to broaden my flying horizon and experience. Thanks again Jim. You and Walt just made my day today ! I love to learn to glide and so some aerobatics. Basic stuff. I always know Gliders and Aerobatic pilots make the best pilot. No fear of engine failure or spins and stalls recovery.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 7:53 PM    Report this comment

I Think a reality show is called for arising from this forum. Just the names alone here are an epic phenom. we got Kenneth Katz, Walt Woltosz, Karl Gugenhiemer, May Bee. And Jim Hanson can play the role similar to the watchamecall it name in the movie FARGO. He's from MN. He already has the accent, I think. Dave Miller can do 40 nites and days instead of 6 nites and 7 days. He might want to do a 40 days in the desert instead. He might see some illusions of dancing female pilots. ( forgot what Jesus hallucinated upon, on his trip). John Lovelace might want to get a wind of this. He could include it in a segment of THE AVIATOR. I can do the role of a frantic paranoid, psychopathic, obsessive compulsive, neurotic managing my email spam box since I have let every webcrawlers got ahold of my email address because I posted it on a public forum. DANG. We might be able to make just enough money on the shows to rescue the male dominated aviation industry and turn it around to be profitable because now women run it. Then we will change the male dominated terminologies used in aviation today. First thing to go is "cockpit". It will be replaced with "Box-office". No more "balls to the walls" either. Gotta think of something more feminine. Everyone is into Reality shows and making money! (Who would have thunk "Jersey Shores and "the Situation" would make it)!! ... No... I am not off my meds. I'm almost serious.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 8:13 PM    Report this comment

Well, it seems to me that since this is such an active discussion, there must be something to it. The sorry part is that no man (and NOT just because you are men, it's because you are NOT women) can understand the sometimes subtle but real pressures put on women pilots. The blatant discrimination is easy to spot. I've been told that I was eminently qualified for a job as a corporate pilot, but "what would the other pilot's wives think?" or "I don't hire women to fly jets" or "women are not strong enough to handle an engine out." (I was strong enough to handle V1 cuts in a DC-3 -- made the B777 feel like a 150). I've heard all that and plenty more. I've heard all the just barely audible snide remarks in the pilot lounge. I've had enough hard evidence to file and pervail in several EEO suits though the years, but I didn't want to be black-balled in the industry -- and you KNOW that would have happened and would have made life even harder for the women who came after me. I've had to just put my head down and do my best for the past 35 years as a corporate, 135, communter, instructor, and freight dog. When I published my book, some folks thought I should list my name as Capt. L.D.Pendleton. Not a chance! I was proud of my book and if listing a woman's name as author was going to hurt sales, well, then, that would have to be.

(cont)

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | September 28, 2010 8:16 PM    Report this comment

(Cont. from above.)

I flew a Beech 18 in the ice of Midwest winters and got regularly ramp checked because somebody would hear me on the radio and think some pilot had brought his girlfriend along and was dumb enough to let them talk on the radio. (It was just me and Susie Soderstrom back in the 70s. Bless her heart, I think an 18 finally got her.)

I remember the looks on guys faces coming into my classrom at FlightSafety -- you could read clear as day, "Oh, sheesh, a broad! What can she possible teach me?" (That kinda worked to my advantage, tho. Their expectations were so low that when I was able to string a few words together in an intelligible sentence they thought I was wonderful.)

I thought it would all change, but you know it hasn't -- it's just more underground now.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | September 28, 2010 8:17 PM    Report this comment

Linda. I feel for you. As an ASIAN WOMAN ( loud mouth and assertive at times)... I have had a lot of discrimination experiences. It is not just in Aviation. My very good girlfriend is in the RCMP. Royal Canadian Mounted Police). She comes home in tears on a regular basis. She goes thru the same experiences you describe in your work world. I coach her and console her every nite almost. That is why earlier on I said that there should not be any more "struggles" for women in these days and age... but culture, habits and practises are deeply entrenched. They are hard to break. I always believe what Ghandi said.... " the change has to start with me". What am I going to do today to make a difference in how some other little girl or women is going to be treated henceforth. I like to educate, send some to be re-educated, and be vigilant about discrimination and speak up as you have done, whenever we see inequality happening. The world is not perfect, our society is not perfect, alas, as humans we are not perfect. For you to stand up and make the wrong right again is what I respect and expect. Because of women like you... the granddaugters of all us pilots here and today will have a better tomorrow. Thanks for sharing Linda. I am not pandering. I mean it from my most sincere corner of my heart.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 8:30 PM    Report this comment

Susan -- You are right, it is about image. I believe that to promote aviation as an inexpensive hobby is a waste of advertising dollars because it attracts a lot of people who ultimately cannot buy. That said, the "rich" pilot image is also an image that we have failed to dispel. I think that publishing more articles about normal everyday middle class people who have chosen aviation might help. I am known for claiming that anyone that can afford to own a $40,000 car can afford to fly - buy a $20,000 car and there is money for a private and instrument ticket. It is a matter of "want" vs. "need" and choices.

A lot of people are focusing on spending advertising dollars to establish gender-based campaigns. Let me suggest to you ways that do not cost much to change the industry image.

As I mentioned in this article, 2010 is the year of Centennial of Women Pilots. How much would it cost to theme this year's airshows around this milestone and showcase our many talented female aerobatic pilots? I don't believe not that much. Yet, that would send a powerful message to the general public and the potential female pilot that the aviation industry is proud of its few female pilots and values their presence. It really does not take that much. It takes a will to start changing things and perceptions.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 28, 2010 8:48 PM    Report this comment

Karl says..."It's not safe to be wearing shorts or skirts when your flying anyways." Hey Karl..... If I don't intend to crash... can I wear my skorts? ( skort is a hybrid of a Skirt and shorts.... I love them in the summer). But I promise to wear my ^&%@ kicking SS boots, Herr Commandant ! On a serious note, on a hot summer day, I love to fly wearing my cotton dress or skirt... commando style too. Sorry Susan ... too much info. I know. But I thought Karl need to know it is okay to fly wearing skirts or shorts. Scotch or not. LOL Tell me Karl. What is the difference between wearing a skirt, shorts, or a man's Khaki pants or cotton pants? Enquiry mind wants to know. Thank you.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 8:50 PM    Report this comment

So Mireille... let's make it happen. I always say, if it is to be, it is up to me. What realistically can we do? I have the will and limited means. I have goodwill and energy. I think AOPA might have something happening at their November Summit in Long Beach in November. Lori McCall.... the female mountain flying guru is going to be there. Patty Wagstaff will be there too. How can we make a difference? I am already giving a break to Women pilots who wants to learn to fly at my flight school. Okay to be fair, I give male pilots the same break if they are lacking $$$ but show me passion. Plane engines like to be flown anyways. BUT truly I am always promoting flying to the young women in my network. Just this month I have convinced 2 to start. I got into flying not because of the women and man thing. I just am a bad golfer and needed a hobby. Took up flying and fell in love with oil change and fueling and plane cleaning and later found out I know how to land a plane naturally....and that peaked my interest. The rest is history. Oh, I love the smell of diesel, oil and sounds of props too.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 9:01 PM    Report this comment

Erissa, I don't appreciate you making fun of my Austrian heritage which gave a name I'm proud of. The comment about "SS boots" is in really bad taste. I'm not sure if you know what "SS" stands for, but this attitude contributes to the world repeating history. You're making it worse for women in aviation the more you speak on this article. To come out and say: "I am already giving a break to Women pilots who wants to learn to fly at my flight school." Wow, it's really a shame.As for shorts and skirts, you're more than welcome to wear what you want and if you can't figure out the saftey reasons behind it... good luck with your flying career. Are you one of those people I see walking onto airline flights in flip flops and shorts? I'm sure you're very fond of the Jersey Shore show.

And the lady saying: "I was strong enough to handle V1 cuts in a DC-3 -- made the B777 feel like a 150" and " "When I published my book..." Don't flatter yourself like that in public, it comes across so bad.

Posted by: Karl Gugenhiemer | September 28, 2010 10:54 PM    Report this comment

Erissa, I don't appreciate you making fun of my Austrian heritage which gave a name I'm proud of. The comment about "SS boots" is in really bad taste. I'm not sure if you know what "SS" stands for, but this attitude contributes to the world repeating history. You're making it worse for women in aviation the more you speak on this article. To come out and say: "I am already giving a break to Women pilots who wants to learn to fly at my flight school." Wow, it's really a shame.As for shorts and skirts, you're more than welcome to wear what you want and if you can't figure out the saftey reasons behind it... good luck with your flying career. Are you one of those people I see walking onto airline flights in flip flops and shorts? I'm sure you're very fond of the Jersey Shore show.

And the lady saying: "I was strong enough to handle V1 cuts in a DC-3 -- made the B777 feel like a 150" and " "When I published my book..." Don't flatter yourself like that in public, it comes across so bad.

Posted by: Karl Gugenhiemer | September 28, 2010 10:55 PM    Report this comment

Oh oh... Sorry... I had no idea you are of Autrian Heritage. Must be Law of attraction. Look up what that is. No I don't do Jersey shores, but heard it is a money maker. Yes, I am proud to give women and poor males a break in flying. I think that is pay back time for me. I have been blessed. But you do have an attitude eh? Leave Linda alone. She Should be proud of her accomplishment. Who died and made you the judge and jury of what is good or bad? Maybe you do have a tinge of your heritage leaking out. I am from the tropics.... I love flipflops and shorts. Hey, but when I ride my Harley.... I make sure I weather my full leather chaps and all. Believe me if you crash your plane, my dear Karl, what you wear is the last thing that is going to save your bacon. If you live, maybe your survival gear and skill might help. As for FLIP FLOPS? NOW I don't appreciate you making fun of my tropical Heritage. My flip flops is the equivalent of your SS boots by the way. Yes, Sir, Herr Commandant !! Hey, I got a part for you in our Soap opera and reality show here. You probably know what part you will play. Don't get stressed out. Practise some CRM.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:15 PM    Report this comment

Karl... I just got thinking.... when did the Austrians wear SS boots ?? I thought those were only for the Secret Service Nazi army? Educate me please. Hmmm. Unless you belong to that group of ne'er do good, don't feel insulted or feel that you have to defend yourself. Like the saying goes.... unless you are guilty , you should not be afraid of your accusers. I am not accusing you of anything. Don't be so sensitive. BTW... go ahead.... you can belittle me all you want. I am old enough to walk in the rain like a duck. Don't be so anal. ( I hope I am not insulting anyone's heritage here... any heritage related to "anal")?

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:22 PM    Report this comment

Hey Erissa - watch it. I have a good friend who is an Al. :o)

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 11:31 PM    Report this comment

Kiss me :O will you, Walt !! LMAO. This is so fun. Female pilots pissed, innocent SS boots comment pissed one off, flip flops pisse me off, smart whipper snapper picking on some grey haired old lady...!! WHAT NEXT? I am so glad there are people like you around. Makes the world a much better place for sure. Honestly I should just stick to WONG, YONG, CHAN and LEE. It is so hard to figure out where all you OCCIDENTAL names come from. Like I told Susan in email.....I always call ALL my high heel/low heel Black leather fashion boots, SS boots. I think they are the best looking boots every created. AND my boots are made for walking. ALOHA...!!

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:38 PM    Report this comment

Actually, I was sorely tempted to ask you if your real first name is Elissa . . . ;o)

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 11:42 PM    Report this comment

"Believe me if you crash your plane, my dear Karl, what you wear is the last thing that is going to save your bacon." Erissa, I have caught on fire before and I'm so glad I was wearing long pants and shirt. I understand your feelings about ignoring safety, many pilots do not take it serious.

I can not believe this. Not one real honest conversation can even be had on a respected site like avweb. I've never commented on a blog before, but after this horrible exprience. I'm done with with this site and arrogant individuals such as Erissa.

Erissa, I feel really bad about your attitude. It's a shame because aviation is such a fun enviroment. But the irony of comments on here about women not being accepted in aviation along with your rude banter is just unbelievable to me.

If you didn't know.. Hitler was an Austrian and a Vegetarian.

Posted by: Karl Gugenhiemer | September 28, 2010 11:48 PM    Report this comment

Hey Walt, I told my spouse about your offer to give me a ride in the L-39. He is so sweet. He is funding my commercial flight to go to SOCAL when I am ready. I need to mentally get ready. I once saw a journalist passed out pulling a few Gs. Do I have to wear an oxygen mask just like a real fighter pilot? IF I can get a shot of me in there looking like a fighter pilot, I can instantly become a star at Malaysian airlines. My friends there will be so impressed. I am really thrilled at his notion. I know, I might not want to flatter myself like this in public tho eh? It could come across so bad eh? On second thought, who gives a flying flip! Flattery is soul safonsifying ( I am showing off...pulling out all the stops now):O)

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:51 PM    Report this comment

I'll be double damn, Karl !! I was a vegetarian once. In the Jungle of Borneo where I grew up, we had nothing much to eat, except for roots and leaves and bark.... sago worms and insects...And then I found out Steak tasted so good after my first BBQ in America. I went to WYOMING and MONTANA in search of Steaks. The best steaks come from NEBRASKA I think. Don't like the smell of feed lots... BUT sure do love the taste of Steak. I like buffalo too. ELK taste too gamey. Now that I can afford to eat, I will never be vegetarian again. I hope I am not insulting some veggy heritage now. I am only telling it like it is.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 28, 2010 11:58 PM    Report this comment

Erissa, we'll do it after I get the video system installed. Then you'll be able to show everyone how you really did it! (If you fly commercial down here, be sure to take a couple of those little bags from the seat pockets in front of you. . .)

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 28, 2010 11:59 PM    Report this comment

Actually, I was sorely tempted to ask you if your real first name is Elissa . . . ;o)

Walt Woltosz... Erissa is my adopted name. My birth name was EELIN YONG. One E short of Tiger wood's wife's name, and a $billion dollar short of her bank account. I got studied Kabalarian Philosophy for a while (more like dabbling in it) and some nice young Jewish Man told me I needed to change my name to become more successful and assertive. Well, I think he created a monster ! So now, I am legally Erissa. Now you asked, now you are no longer sore or tempted. :) XX

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 12:03 AM    Report this comment

Karl, you have a point with respect to fire, but unless you're wearing Nomex, you may be fooling yourself as far as the level of protection you're getting. Cotton/polyester can become part of your skin if it gets hot enough to melt or burn. There's a reason that interior materials are fire-blocked rather than just using any kind of fabric.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 12:06 AM    Report this comment

Walt .. have to quit laughing enough to type. I've been sitting back just reading tonight up till now, but I have to jump in and tell you that Erissa collects "those little bags" & has one from perhaps just about every commercial airline imaginable ... too funny that you should say that.

And Karl - if you read from the top down, you'll see there's been a real and honest conversation since yesterday going on here about women and aviation with a wide array of commentary and perspective. Sorry you didn't see that.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 12:16 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Walt. I will print out a L-39 and put in on my fridge door. Let me know when we are ready. You know, you have just made one of my "bucket-list" wish. I will bring a baggy as instructed. Maybe one from each airline. LOL GOOD NITE. GOD BLESS and TAIL WIND.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 12:24 AM    Report this comment

In the 50 odd years of my life I have seen many changes. The most significant one is the change in the roles of women. My mother said to me long before she died that it saddened her to see woman wanting to give up their most important job in the world. This is to look after and teach the future citizens to be good and fair. My father was a pilot and took the family on many trips around the country to see our farming friends. My mother loved those visits but as the roads were difficult and treacherous during the raining season we had to fly. My mother hated the flying even though she was in the right seat helping my father and knew how to fly herself. My sister tried flying for a while but lost interest and didn’t fly again. I am surrounded by women. My two grandmothers, mother and stepmother are all dead but there is still a wife, one sister, three sister in laws and a daughter. When I go flying I invite all to participate only to find that no one wants to mostly because they hate flying even commercial flying. Ok I fly solo as I mostly do. I was brought up believing in the Christian principle that a woman was made from the side of a man which means that she is there as a helper and is capable of doing anything a man can do and that together they are there for the family. Can I answer the question why there are not very many women in aviation? No I can’t. It the women’s prerogative whether they want to fly or not and no amount of discuss as above will change that.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | September 29, 2010 4:11 AM    Report this comment

>>Karl, you have a point with respect to fire, but unless you're wearing Nomex, you may be fooling yourself as far as the level of protection you're getting. Cotton/polyester can become part of your skin if it gets hot enough to melt or burn. There's a reason that interior materials are fire-blocked rather than just using any kind of fabric.<<

Polyester yes, cotton not so much. We've seen a somewhat developed pattern in the accident histories where people wearing cotton or wool clothing had a degree of fire protection that those who were exposed did not. There have been cases when this made the difference in survival.

I never wear shorts when flying, even in airliners. Always non-synthetic pants. I compromise on the shirt with short sleeves. Where practical, I wear long sleeve cotton. This is the thinnest layer of additional protection but ask yourself whether you'd rather have it than bare skin. Moreover, it provides some exposure protection in the case of a crash, fire notwithstanding.

We commonly see accidents in which people crash in semi-remote areas wearing only shorts and shirt sleeves. No thought of preparation at all. Same with sandals. I favor shoes with socks. It's just simple survival decisionmaking.

Nomex would be great, but it's not practical for most of us.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 29, 2010 5:22 AM    Report this comment

For several years I've done EAA Young Eagle flights for numerous 'girls' and 'boys'. Based on my experience, the 'girls' are usually more interested in learning about and flying the airplane. Many express an interest in taking flying lessons - until they (or their parents) find out it will cost thousands of dollars to 'learn to fly'. With the current economic realities (and other factors) they find other less costly interests.

Posted by: Richard Norris | September 29, 2010 6:57 AM    Report this comment

I think one important reason why the average income of men and the socioeconomic status of their jobs still exceeds those of women is this: Women want their husbands to be successful in their careers. If a guy is a doctor or lawyer or high-ranking executive or airline pilot, he's more likely to win the hand of the girl of his dreams. On the other hand a man, pilot or not, will be just as happy marrying a stewardess (ok, sorry if I offended anybody, I meant FLIGHT ATTENDANT) as he would be marrying a female communter plane captain.

If you have that kind of reality, is it any wonder if men are more motivated than women to be engineers, pilots and so forth?

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | September 29, 2010 7:27 AM    Report this comment

I have to apologize. I had no idea that women cared so much for wearing skirts on the job or that they made career choices based on advertising. I'd hoped women had progressed beyond such silliness.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 29, 2010 8:05 AM    Report this comment

I've never seen such an ongoing circular argument. One side states "I"m not sexist since I like women and have women friends" and the other side says "You are a sexist because you make such statements and notice the difference". There is no way out of this circle and is a perfect example of what you see depends on where you sit. Paul stated it correctly. This is an example of growing the ENTIRE population to the benefit of all.

Posted by: Burns Moore | September 29, 2010 8:16 AM    Report this comment

Burns Moore, Aviation does not benefit one way or another. Aviation is a business. No one really cares what sex the airplane designer is, the baggage handler, or the pilot. It seems that the only ones who care about sex are the ones calling those of use who don't care "sexist". Go figure.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 29, 2010 8:35 AM    Report this comment

"Aviation does not benefit one way or another. Aviation is a business." If you truly feel that way, say goodbye to GA ... maybe not in your lifetime, but for sure in my granddaughters. That attitude shoots it in the foot only adding to its already small percentage existence in the big scheme of things. GA needs to find a way somehow to appeal to as large a spectrum of "people" as possible; from an advertising perspective, "sell the passion; the adventure; the freedom" of flying. And Bruce pointed out an important factor - some people just have no interest; it's by nature a unique skill and passion, that many simply aren't interested in, narrowing the playing field even more. So why in the world, would you want in any way, shape or form ... to alienate, intimidate or discourage any "person" from wanting to participate? Enough obstacles as it is - financial & otherwise. Unless its "just a business," only about the money, and as long as a person has the ability to participate themselves, they don’t feel any sense to worry about anyone else - in which case I can see why they just don't care. And why future generations will visit museums & see a 182 hanging from the ceiling with a display explaining how they once flew, and what a GA pilot once was.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 8:50 AM    Report this comment

We finally seem to have moved beyond whether women CAN or SHOULD be pilots--how about answers to related questions?

Why are there more pilot starts in Metro vs. rural areas?

Why do women have a higher participation rate in aerial sports like ballooning and skydiving than they do airplanes?

Why is there such antipathy for aviation expressed by most women whose "significant other" takes it up? In all of the years in the business, women have torpedoed aspiring male pilots FAR more than lack of funds--the funding problem can usually be overcome, but not the partner's hostility. Most women are supportive of their husband's career choice or hobby--that's rarely the case in aviation.

The common lament I hear from MEN is "My wife won't go flying with me--she hates the airplane." One way that we can grow the pilot community is to do something about this roadblock. I write articles for a small Midwest aviation magazine, and in my monthly articles, I usually try to find somewhere to take the family by airplane--someplace that is too far to drive but within non-stop range of the airplane. I believe we do a pretty good job of teaching people to fly--but a horrible job of teaching them how to use the airplane.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Susan, cost is killing GA, not the desire to fly. Not sure if you noticed but Cessna can't even afford to make trainers here anymore. Developers are killing airports. New regulations are more intimidating than any male remark.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 29, 2010 9:09 AM    Report this comment

Jim, simplistic answer IMHO is fear. I'm sorry I'm restricted to 1500 words in these responses, cuz I could really go off on that subject and I'll admit there's a gender issue involved. Which again speaks to why I feel so strongly that from a "PR" standpoint GA needs to smarten up. And Mark I absolutely can't argue the cost issue; it's obviously a huge factor - ditto the regulatory strangulation. Another elephant out of the closet from the herd in there? For anyone who truly cares; loves to fly; wants to see the next generation have a chance to experience all it has to offer? The odds are sadly against that happening. The museum scenario I outlined is depressingly possible. But I can care, and I can try - and I do appreciate this dialogue with people who seem to care too.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 9:19 AM    Report this comment

p.s. to what I just wrote - I meant fear is a factor in women wanting to learn to fly; women having that "antipathy" toward their spouses being involved. I'll give you answers (well - my opinion :) to your other questions in a bit....right now I have horses yelling at me for their breakfast. And yes, if you want to talk about money being a factor, I'm about to throw what could have been "flying time" into a pasture to 2 quarter horses that I often wish had wings ;-)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 9:24 AM    Report this comment

We are all familiar with the Tuskeege Airmen. WWII aviation buffs know about guys like Lee Archer, who died this past year or last, who flew with the all-Black (in those days it was "all Negro") 99th Pursuit Squadron and then, the 332nd Fighter Group. Years ago I proposed the idea of an all-woman fighter squadron. Such a squadron could be integrated into one of our various Air National Guards, and given a colorful name like Buckeye Bells, Floridoras, Montana Maidens, etc. That would REALLY arouse interest among high school girls in aviation. But nowadays, the idea of an all-woman squadron is as dated as an all-Negro (whoooppps all African American) fighter squadron would be.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | September 29, 2010 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Susan I also have two horses and an airplane. I think the discipline, attention to the detail, and commitment are similar in both. I know at least a half dozen women airline pilots who also own and are committed to their horses. To be successful in either requires an open, flexible mind able to develop non forced creative solutions to unscripted challenges. Maybe that is the avenue to enticing more women into the discipline. I don't either is appreciably more or less dangerous than the other. I think the key is appeal to the intellectual curiosity and the immediate feedback that a successful flight can provide. Just like working with horses.

Posted by: Burns Moore | September 29, 2010 9:39 AM    Report this comment

I really WOULD like to understand why women seem to be pre-disposed towards animosity to aviation. (One wag said "They learn that at wife school!") (laugh).

Some think it is because aviation takes away from family time. The answer to that is to take the family along.

Some think that it takes away financial resources--spending money on flying instead of a new car (that the wife can ALSO drive). The answer to that is to involve the family in planning the next "adventure flight."

Some think that it is viewed as a threat to family safety. Quoting "statistics" has little effect in combatting this one. Do as I do with most fearful first-time flyers--I sit them down and make an oral pledge--"I promise you that I will not do anything to put you in danger"--and make it SINCERE.

Some say it is lack of control over environment. Combatting this requires UNDERSTANDING. Though many women refuse to get a license, most will do a "pinch-hitter" course for altruistic motives--"in case something happens." Though this is statistically insignificant, use it to educate--the more she knows about the airplane, navigation, radios, etc. the less fearful he/she will be.

Can anybody name any OTHER reasons many women oppose aviation?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 9:43 AM    Report this comment

Men and women in the military wear different uniforms for the same rank. Why not in the airline industry? A nice jacket tucked in a little at the waist just looks better and is more comfortable for a woman. I fail to understand how a black tie helps in case of a fire.

I think that is counterproductive to tell the women who read and participate to this blog that women dislike aviation. Women who fly are just as much in love with flying and belonging to this industry as men are thus the passion expressed in the comments. What some translate as whining is in fact an expression of the pain that many feel caused by a sense of being held back from contributing as much as they know they can.

Hey, did you notice that most learn-to-fly programs have only male spokespersons? How about a male and a female spokespersons? That is not costly and that begins to change image.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 29, 2010 10:36 AM    Report this comment

Learn to fly programs are about learning to fly, not about gender identification. If the aircraft and the feeling of flying is insufficient motivation then any spokesman/woman is not doing their job.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 29, 2010 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Paul, Upon pondering I think all airlines oughta send out an AD to all the flying passengers especially the whole load of them flying to Hawaii and Mexico, and flying in the summer that they should wear socks and shoes and long sleeve shirts and long pants. No dresses, shorts and skirts incase of crashes. What is good for the crew is good for the passengers. As for me, I am going to shop for a NOMEX jumpsuit today, and will be wearing my Survival vest and Long polyesters ( will 89% do?) to fly today. No more skirts. ( I'm sure gonna miss it tho). I have to redo my survival kit too. Got to throw out all the expired foods and refill the water bottle and check on the chlorine tablets too. Making sure my gun is still loaded and the knives are sharp helps too. The bears are not hibernating yet, this time of year up here. Safety is paramount. Going flying now. We get very few blue skies days up north this time of year. Blue sky today. Yippy.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 11:01 AM    Report this comment

This has become a lengthly thread, and rightly so. I am a retired captain from on the of the legacy carriers and as such, was aware of over 400 female pilots on the property when I "hung up my wings." I experienced very few problems, and some very pleasant surprises with the ladies in the cockpit. But my bottom line was: when cleared for take off and going below the line on the checklist, I didn't care what color or gender my flying partner was; I wanted a competent, professional airman ready to work with. The ladies rarely disappointed me in that respect.

Posted by: Kenneth Oden | September 29, 2010 11:07 AM    Report this comment

Mireille--"I think that is counterproductive to tell the women who read and participate to this blog that women dislike aviation. Women who fly are just as much in love with flying and belonging to this industry as men are thus the passion expressed in the comments."

You are ignoring the obvious--OF COURSE women (like yourself) who are pilots are just as passionate about the profession as men--but just ask any FBO--for every woman like yourself, I can show you 10 men who either quit flying because of whining from the wife or who fly by themselves because "the wife hates to fly." It's not limited to "little airplanes", either, many women are fearful of flying on LARGE airplanes.

Wake up and smell the coffee--deal with the REALITY that women's objections to men's flying has killed as many piloting careers or hobbies as has cost and over-regulation.

AS I've shown, there ARE things we can do to deal with these objections--as long as we acknowledge them.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 11:09 AM    Report this comment

How about a male and a female spokespersons? That is not costly and that begins to change image.

Learn to fly programs are about learning to fly, not about gender identification.

Mark Fraser, you got it! As for Male and female spokes person? Don't we have the Martha King and John King team. They are always in my face in every Aviation Magazine I flip. Besides, at the Reno Races all I hear is Patty this and Patty that. I do think women are very visible more so today then in the past, and like all industries, will become more and more visible.... as long as people like Mireille and Linda and Susan keep promoting the notion. As long as we don't push them into Home economics classes, kniting and sewing ( as per Karl's idea), fashion and Spa industries, women are capable of anything. History has proven that. In my household, I am the one wanting to ride, fly,fish and play in the dirt. My spouse is happy to be "Julia Child's protege". AND no one push him into sewing % knitting either. He loves it. I hate to get my 30 year old sewing machine serviceable when I met him so he can be happy. GO figure. Hey, but he does pull the plane out for me from the hangar. He does also tell me to go buy one of those gizmo that had a lawn mower engine on it so I can do it myself. After the Nomex purchase, I will go buy one.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 11:10 AM    Report this comment

CESSNA is CHINA is lovingly called CHESSNAs. Mark is right. Cessna's 162 is a Chinese Pride. Our dollar is so weak, the Chinese Yuan is king and before you know it, all the pilots in the whole world will be Chinese.... moving fast pace too. Our flight schools in Canada are pumping our Chinese pilots by the hoards. They can hardly be understood in the air even tho ICAO says they have to speak English. We have a bigger aviation problem than just gender issues right now. In China, they don't pay attention to girls by the way. I have yet to see a women pilot among the hoards of Chinese student pilots on our field. A couple of Korean women and just one Indian. We have a bigger fish to fry, Susan. I am not minimizing the thread here. BUT the THREAT to aviation in North America is not from within. Soon, unless you have Chinese Yuan or ( "ren-ming-pee") i.e. Chinese dollar, you REALLY cannot afford to fly.Safety is not the # 1 issue to them. Money is. Life is cheap for them. They add Melamine to baby food by the way. They add Melamine to pet food. They use lead in children's toys for paint. They cut corners in all industries so they can make more money. Check out their human rights ( or lack of ) records.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 11:24 AM    Report this comment

The idea that women as a group are more averse to flying may be a self-perpetuating myth. I have both male and female employees and family who fly with me in the Citation. None of the females has said she wouldn't fly with me, but two of the males won't. One son-in-law does reluctantly (beer helps). All the females have sat in the right seat. Both males and females would like to fly, but cost is a major deterrent.

My assistant used to work at Edwards AFB. She's flown supersonic in a T-38 (I'm green with envy!). Once we were talking about achieving our life's goals, and she said I would never guess what her ambition one was. I thought for a moment and I asked, "Astronaut?" and she smiled and said yes. She flew with my wife and me to NYC a couple weeks ago and sat in the right seat for all 4 legs (fuel stop each way). She saw the Grand Canyon, T-storms from a safe distance, the Mississippi, the Rockies, the plains, lakes Michigan and Erie, the farms and small towns, the NYC skyline, etc., all out the front window.

The guys I've had in the right seat were certainly engaged, but as I read their words and body language, not to the same degree.

What's the point? Again, that there are both men and women who are and are not attracted to flying. I think we tend to remember the gals who don't want to fly as representing women in general, but tend to dismiss the guys as representing their group.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 11:25 AM    Report this comment

I totally agree with Walt ( not because he's my hero) but because he speaks simple truths and has the experience to back them up. I gotta go now but will be back tonite to check on this addictive site. Ciao.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 11:31 AM    Report this comment

Fresh reading today gave me hope we could get off the obsessive need for a particular group to be more represented in GA, after yesterdays word tornado....then the author, who in my opinion still has not explained why she wants more women in aviation - some have suggested an altruistic motive for the general health of GA, I didn't get that from the blog(maybe not always the sharpest tool in the shed here before coffee) - brought the conversation right back to, of all things, a lack of advertising toward women to learn to fly. Maybe if someone like Capt.Oden could explain how so many great women pilots made it through the horror of sexism we could move on to the more affective reasons for low pilot starts - male or female. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 29, 2010 11:31 AM    Report this comment

Erissa - just so you know, no skirts, shorts or flip-flops in the L-39. Nomex flying suit and combat boots! The parachute straps wouldn't feel too comfortable on bare legs, especially at 4-5 Gs. And if anything happened and we had to bail out, you wouldn't want to make the wrong kind of fashion statement when you reached the ground.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 11:41 AM    Report this comment

Walt--"The idea that women as a group are more averse to flying may be a self-perpetuating myth."

REALLY? You've provided an anecdote about who will/won't fly with you--but that's hardly empirical evidence.

On the other hand, the common lament among male pilots is "my wife won't fly with me." Even worse, the "whipped" lament "My wife won't LET me fly"--as though she controlls him. That's lame.

We've already seen that females participate in OTHER forms of aviation to a greater extent than they do in general aviation airplanes--the point being that women DON'T participate in general aviation.

We've seen that student pilot STARTS or primarily male.

This entire thread is about the 6% of pilots that are women.

Of the students that walk in the door at my FBO--only 1 out of 40 are women. You can't say that they were "put off by attire", "didn't want to get dirty", or were "offended by comments"--the number coming in the door IS what it IS. (Side note: Obviously, the percentage of women students that FINISH their license is higher than for males--we must do SOMETHING right!)

Yeah--I would say that all evidence points to flying aversion by women. Let's DEAL with the issue, not wish it away or say it doesn't exist.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 12:36 PM    Report this comment

Jim - limited enrollment and aversion to flying are two completely different things. Economic issues, family duties/pressures, etc. might be greater on women with resulting lower enrollment, but that does not mean that as a group they are more averse to flying.

Finding the time and money to fly is a challenge to anyone. Those who have the strongest passion for it, regardless of gender or ethnicity, make it such a high priority that they make it happen, regardless of the wife's whining, the cost, etc. One of my daughters has been into horses for over 25 years. Over the years she has struggled to afford them, but has always been willing to sacrifice other things to keep her horses. Becoming a mother of two, she still managed to hang onto at least one horse, because it's her passion. I think the same is true of flying - those who are most passionate find a way. Read about Bessie Coleman for a story of a truly determined woman who found a way to fly when society was highly biased against her. Many others may have had the same dream, but didn't see a way around the hurdles. That doesn't mean they were averse to flying.

Perhaps the higher involvement (that seems to be reported here) for women in sailplanes is because it's cheaper? All evidence does NOT point to flying aversion by women any more than men. DEALING with the issue requires properly identifying it first!

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 12:52 PM    Report this comment

YES to Walt’s thoughts just expressed ~ and to all the comments this a.m. actually, just that I really resonated w/his last ones. Love this entire discussion; meaningful & valuable even when it gets "testy" :) Or I don't agree w/a viewpoint. As you may have seen Walt, I can relate to the story you shared about your daughter. I have had 2 true passions in my life - flying & horses. LONG story. But in a nutshell, the horses were able/meant - by circumstance - to come first; and when the flying passion came to the forefront - I was already knee-deep in the equine responsibilities & a financially restrictive retirement situation. Not a good combo. Even my husband laments that I did not pursue the flying earlier; could have afforded it easily, *then.* That offered for perspective. Burns - couldn't agree more re your thoughts above about horsemanship and flying. To me - both are at their core, about feel. One for an animal, the other for an airplane. You won't reach the higher levels of horsemanship or airmanship in my opinion, without it. And not everybody has it. Which leads to the whole element of WHO, regardless of gender, wants to – has the ability to – fly a plane. Tough deal because you absolutely need to acknowledge that not everyone wants to or can; which does cut into your potential participant base. A good PR campaign seems to me, would delve into the “whys” of that, and effectively address them. To be con’t (having trouble staying in the 1500 character restriction)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 1:16 PM    Report this comment

Walt--"limited enrollment and aversion to flying are two completely different things." No--they are one and the same. If you can't get them IN THE DOOR, you can't sell them on the benefits of flying--and women don't come in the door in numbers anywhere CLOSE to men.

Women DO exhibit an aversion to flying--even if their husband already flies, or if the family owns an airplane.

Walt continues "Perhaps the higher involvement (that seems to be reported here) for women in sailplanes is because it's cheaper?" That isn't true, sailplane flying is not only dominated by men (see posts above) but it is also NOT cheaper than a powered aicraft--unless you go "low rent." A good average performance sailplane costs about $35-$40,000. Liability insurance is about the same as a two-place airplane, but hull coverage is MORE due to the chance of damage "landing out" and the cost of repair to glass fibre. Annuals cost about the same, except for engine maintenance.

Women have higher participation in Ballooning and Skydiving.

All evidence (anecdotal and hard) points to the opposite of your claim. Ask any FBO, charter operator, or airplane salesman to list the biggest obstacles to the purchase of a new airplane. They are (in no particular order)Cost, Regulation, Insurance, and "The wife won't let me do it."

As the wife of a long-term FBO, my OWN wife asks (only somewhat jokingly) "How do these women GET such power?" (laugh)

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 1:26 PM    Report this comment

The "romance & adventure" aura that used to surround flying is long gone. Sadly, because what an incredible draw to aviation that used to be. The spirit of Lindbergh and Earhart - the first air-mail flights - the barnstormers. Those were pilots who captured the hearts & minds of people rightly back in the day. But now the age of commercial aviation & all its annoying encumbrances; the regulatory baloney; the costs; the "normalcy" surrounding the act of flight itself, have all conspired to erode pretty much any element of a positive image for aviation. And indeed, add the basic element of fear that many people have toward it - and you've definitely - got problems. As much of an advocate as I've obviously shown myself to be in this discussion, of removing sexism from the equation, I also thoroughly understand that even statistically, you may very well be able to come up with an argument that *certain* females, & in more numbers than men, tend to have fear be an issue in their lack of interest in flying. It needs to be considered in trying to figure out how to appeal to the widest number of potential flyers. Now I say that VERY carefully - because for prime example? My husband hates to fly & partly due to issues over fear. Doesn't like the safety issues he feels come w/flying commercial (in spite of my pooh-poohing of those :) & don't even suggest he get in one of my friends 182. They have - he won't!

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 1:29 PM    Report this comment

continued

Walt--"Those who have the strongest passion for it, regardless of gender or ethnicity, make it such a high priority that they make it happen, regardless of the wife's whining, the cost, etc."

That is also my position. While I wouldn't work to keep ANYBODY out of aviation--those that WANT it will find a way.

Those of us whose livelihood depends on general aviation will also find a way to overcome the impediment of women throwing cold water on men flying. I've mention several--and add this one. The more female flight instructors around, the more women will feel comfortable taking lessons.

More female instructors = more women pilots, and fewer negative comments from wives.

On the other hand, I've had wives tell their husbands "You're not going to fly with HER!" Sometimes, you can't win!

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Jim - you need to look up the definition of aversion. It has the connotation of dislike, repugnance, etc., not at all one of not doing something you want to do but can't justify in terms of time, cost, other commitments. Admit it, most men do enjoy a greater ability to spend time and money on their hobbies than most women, as evidenced by the amount they spend on various forms of moving vehicles on land, water, and in the air! Most men spend MUCH less time tending to family responsibilities than most women. Look around you and see if that isn't the general rule with people you know. If low enrollment in GA training by women is truly attributable to aversion (dislike, repugnance, fear), where's the proof?

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 1:44 PM    Report this comment

Image. Image. Image. That's why this discussion about what/why/how re women in aviation is so important ... how does GA (sorry, but that's obviously the angle of all this most important to me)combat not only the negativity surrounding female pilots - but how also to combat the negativity that a female spouse can bring to a spouse wanting to do it. And I'm smiling here as I type that cuz yes - I realize how sexist it is LOL! But my experience has been that I've talked with more than a few non-flying wives, and there are many that either won't fly AT ALL because of a fear issue, or fly w/their spouse, but reluctantly. And sadly it IS a true reality that many male pilots get their desire to fly squashed ~ by a wife that just "doesn't get it" or is frightened by the whole idea (& I’m only addressing the fear issue; not the monetary one. Seems to me if a guy has the money, it’s going to be the wife’s fear of flying, that will be the issue.)

We women really are a pain aren't we??? :-) No, we're wonderful. But we are an issue for GA. We that have the desire & ability to FLY, should have no barriers to doing so & be treated equally ... those who are spouses to pilots or aspiring ones, should be educated and inspired to be supportive.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Walt-- you need to look up the definition of aversion. It has the connotation of dislike, repugnance, etc., not at all one of not doing something you want to do but can't justify in terms of time, cost, other commitments."

I try to be very precise with words, and AVERSION is precisely what I meant. From Webster's New World Dictionary: "Aversion and Antipathy both imply an ingrained feeling against that which is disagreeable or offensive, aversion stressing AVOIDANCE OR REJECTION."

When the number of women STARTS is low, when some women not only refuse to participate in a hobby, but prevent their husbands from doing so, when some women exhibit a groundless and irrational fear of flying, and when only 6% of the pilot populace is female, I would say that is AVOIDANCE AND REJECTION--in other words: AVERSION

You ask for proof? See above.

Do women suffer more from fear of flying than men? Yes--70% of people with aviophobia are female.

http://www.phobia.depression-guide.com/aviophobia.html

Still not convinced? Try spending more time with FBOs, flight instructors, charter pilots, aircraft salesmen, and flight attendants.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 2:25 PM    Report this comment

Susan, just FYI, I did a little more web searching to find out what a would-be woman student pilot might find if she Googled "learn to fly" or "learn how to fly." My examples yesterday weren't good choices.

Top hit is Cessna's site. If you click "your first flight," you get a video of "one mom's journey from discovery flight to certificate." You also get a Skycatcher in flight with a male pilot. One link on AOPA's learn to fly section has a woman instructor cutting the shirtback off a male student. Other images show two males in the training environment. The current Young Eagles lead page shows five freshly minted Young Eagles, three are females, two males. AOPA and other sites image rotate through images and the flightpath link depicts women in two of the three available images. That's pretty good representation and to a reasonable person, more than enough to give lie to the claim that the industry doesn't depict women. It clearly does.

One could argue about how those images are perceived and perhaps suggest improvements, but the effort is clearly there and well developed. These are the principle landing pages for typical Web searches.

http://www.aopa.org/flightpath/learn/index.html

http://www.youngeagles.org/

http://www.cessna.com/learn-to-fly/your-first-flight.html

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 29, 2010 2:36 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul. I have to agree; the effort seems to be there. Sure there could be more, but can't say it's overtly biased to one side based on this information and the results of your search. It's easy to make assumptions, and it's a positive sign that you put the time into searching the reality out.

Could more be done? Sure. But as this discussion has pointed out, what and how isn't an easy thing to come to terms on. The right starting point though - is acknowledging the issues themselves. AvWeb ran Mireille's piece to begin with and opened up the discussion that ensued - good on them. Perhaps more that address the other seemingly important and related issues that have been brought out as a result, would be in order.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 29, 2010 2:54 PM    Report this comment

Jim - now you have something objective behind your argument. It's not a scientific web site, but let's assume it's correct. From another web site (http://www.airsafe.com/issues/fear.htm):

"Research is somewhat sparse, with one of the most important studies on fear of flying dates back to 1980, when two Boeing researchers found that 18.1% adults in the U.S. was afraid to fly, and that another 12.6% of adults experienced anxiety when they fly."

So if 30% of adults are either afraid to fly or have anxiety, and 70% are women, then ~21% of women are averse to flying. In other words 4 times as many are not! Clearly, stating that MOST women are averse to flying is unsubstantiated.

The meaning of aversion is what it is. Numerous dictionaries, including your reference, make it clear that aversion is not simply avoidance. It infers dislike, disagreeable, offensive, repugnant, etc., which then results in avoidance. You need to make a better effort if this is what you call being precise with words.

By the way, although I can't match your flying accomplishments (congratulations on the MN Aviation Hall of Fame award), my 40+ years of flying, 2600+ hours, and Commercial ASEL, AMEL, Inst, C500 (RVSM and Single Pilot Exemption for >12,500 lb)and L-39 ratings didn't come by staying away from FBOs, flight schools, flight instructors, aircraft salesman (owned 6 personal airplanes), and flight attendants (over 1,000,000 airline miles).

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 3:55 PM    Report this comment

I just realized there is a math error in my previous post, and I don't know of a way to edit it, so here is the correction.

If 30% of adults are afraid to fly or have anxiety, and 70% of those are women, then it's 21% of adults who are women, not 21% of women. Assuming the population is 50/50 male/female, that would make it 42% of women who are averse to flying, and 9% of adults, or 18% of men are the remainder.

It's still less than half, so stating the MOST women are averse to flying is not correct.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 4:24 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps because I enjoy both flying and hunting, I see strong parallels between the two activities. Recruitment of new participants is a major issue for flying and hunting because changing demographic trends are diminishing the ranks of both, and both face higher obstacles to participation (though different ones) than many other recreational pursuits. Flying and hunting are each dominated by white males, although a slightly higher percentage of hunters are women (9%) in comparison to the 6% of pilots who are women. One big difference between hunting and flying, I suspect, is that while the total number of hunters decreased slightly between 2008 and 2009, the number of women joining the ranks of hunters increased more than 5%. The number of young women taking up hunting is increasing at an even faster rate. These trends in women becoming hunters are the product of sustained and very targeted outreach (as opposed to advertising) efforts to encourage participation of women in hunting and the shooting sports by industry associations, state wildlife agencies, and hunting organizations. Nothing comparable I’ve seen from AOPA, EAA, GAMA, or state aviation departments has been tried to encourage women to fly. Maybe there’s a lesson here.

Posted by: Robert Davison | September 29, 2010 4:36 PM    Report this comment

I don't really want to get between the silly argument over 'stats' of women pilot starts, that is always just a matter of who can manipulate them the best for victory, but over the 4 years of building my homebuilt in my garage I kept a sign-in sheet of folks who wanted to go up and fly with me after I completed phase 1 flight testing. From my experience seeing dozens of kids and adults come by and signing up over the years, I got 33 fellows and 1 girl. But I heard plenty of ladies strongly commenting to my wife that she had to be insane to fly 'in that thing - get plenty of insurance!'. Which did wonders for my building and flyings skills ego.

Granted it's an all-metal low-wing homebuilt not blessed by the Government certification standards, but the fact that more women actually came by than guys might say something when compared to how many signed up. Or maybe it was a reflection on me...na, couldn't have been...

Just my personal, everyday experience away from an airport or airshow where the first step of interest would have already been taken. Truth be known I wish there were a 50/50 split of gender with pilots, I'm quite fond of the ladies...

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 29, 2010 4:46 PM    Report this comment

False assumptions do not help to solve problems. My mother inspired me to fly. Not because she flew but because she thought that flying was exciting and talked about it as a cool thing to do. My father is afraid of flying, even the airlines. I was the first pilot within my extended family. Out of 3 pilots now in the family, two are women. If this is the story of my family, I believe it can be the story of many other families.

And Susan, you are so right about needing to change the perception of women in general towards aviation. That's why our campaign to introduce women to aviation has two goals: introduce women who might consider learning to fly to aviation and also just introduce women to aviation to change their perception of the activity. Because I believe that even if we don't become pilots, they can still influence others to do so by sharing their new perceptions.

As for couples, there are many activities that either party may refuse to participate in. The type of activity is usually less the issue than the dynamic of the relationship.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 29, 2010 4:57 PM    Report this comment

Why more women in aviation? Let see... may be because I always read about GA needing more pilots. Should I read in between the lines "we need only more male pilots"?

If we decide that we do need more pilots, male and female, then let's reflect on our achievements towards that goal so far. Nothing has change despite enormous efforts.

Relying on the Blue Ocean Strategy (a celebrated business study), I suggest that if we cannot increase the number of pilots by targeting our efforts mostly towards the male customer may be we should try to pay a little more attention to the female customer. I think that it is a fair option that should be considered.

Posted by: Flying Bug | September 29, 2010 5:12 PM    Report this comment

You've done your homework on me! Amazing what you can find on the net with a couple of key words! (laugh)

Looking back, I can't find a reference where I said MOST women were afraid of flying.

"Do women suffer MORE from fear of flying than men? Yes--70% of people with aviophobia are female."

"When the number of women STARTS is low, when SOME women not only refuse to participate in a hobby,"

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 5:22 PM    Report this comment

Personally I wouldn't care if 100,000 wealthy transsexuals became pilots if it would affect lowering costs and helping preserve my passion to fly.

If it is a particular interest to want more of a specific gender as pilots, that in effect is sexism. There is nothing wrong or adverse about it if done objectively, but instead of a focus on people with money or adventurous humans let's say, it is a very limited way to approach GA growth IMHO.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 29, 2010 5:29 PM    Report this comment

Mireille--" Should I read in between the lines "we need only more male pilots"?"

If you have a flight instructor certificate, you should know enough NOT to read language into regulations and statements that isn't there--a common mistake.

Read it as it is written--don't try to read in things that aren't there.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 5:52 PM    Report this comment

Jim - You did say "Why is there such antipathy for aviation expressed by most women whose "significant other" takes it up?"

OK - in this case it was "most" of a particular group. In other places you simply said "women" with no limiting qualification, but you could not have meant all women, my brain inserted "most" as an assumption that you must have meant that. If not, then you're actual statements that "women" do this or that are ambiguous with respect to scope (could mean some, a few, most, could mean all), but then that takes away any persuasion that they're different from men. So again, the assumption of "most" seemed logical in context.

Anyway, word games aside, your question about metro vs rural female pilot starts would appear to be answered by two considerations: income is probably generally higher for the metro crowd, and independence (both financially and psychologically) is probably greater as well.

continued . . .

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 6:00 PM    Report this comment

We just can't get away from the cost issue. I would not have started flying as an undergraduate student if I hadn't been able to buy ten hours of solo time in a Citabria for $75 - wet! And ten hours of dual (with a 30,000 Eastern Airline captain as my instructor) was $100 - wet! I got my private license for under $500, then we strapped on the chutes and did aerobatics - still for $10/hr. I'm sure I would have started later in life, but as a student with a wife and two kids, I could not have justified paying the usual going rate even at that time. I got lucky because this guy ran a small airport in Lanett, AL just down the road from Auburn University and he didn't care if he made money at it (probably got a good tax benefit back then). He had taught flying since WW II and wanted to get people into it.

When I finished graduate school, I bought my first airplane (1949 A35 Bonanza) in 1970 for $6500 when my annual salary as a GS-7 FAA field engineer was just over $10,000/year. So the airplane was less than a year's salary.

As I look at it now, buying a Bonanza that is 21 years old would be on the order of $200,000. I don't know any recent engineering graduates who make that much in a year - or even two. Add the increased cost of insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc. and the costs are disproportionately higher than they were back then.

And therein, I feel, lies the rub with respect to growth of GA, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 6:01 PM    Report this comment

The fact that there are 118,000 flight attendants (I believe there are quite a few men in that number) is a good reason why there are so few women pilots. What are the qualifications necessary for a person to become a flight attendant? What are the out of pocket costs for a person pursuing a career as a flight attendant. Compare those costs to that which is necessary to obtain a pilots license. Then, what are the additional costs necessary to get the advanced ratings required for flying career? Comparing flight attendants to pilots is comparing apples to oranges. They are nowhere near the same. Sure, the fact that there are so many flight attendants proves that women are not afraid to be away from home and or family members for extended periods of time. It is all about costs.

Another responder asked about the disparity between urban and rural areas. Again, it comes down to income and costs. I live in a rural area of Maryland after having lived in downtown D.C. I was so surprised at the lack of opportunities for young women out here. Too many of them see no future beyond getting knocked up in high school. Not everyone in rural areas are farmers. In fact, due to farm consolidation over the years, less and less people are farmers. If a college education is a mere pipe dream for these people, how can we expect them to pursue becoming a pilot for pleasure, much less a career?

Posted by: David Heberling | September 29, 2010 6:43 PM    Report this comment

Mireille--"And Susan, you are so right about needing to change the perception of women in general towards aviation. "

So if there is a "NEED TO CHANGE the perception of women in general towards aviation"--then you would concede that there IS an adverse attitude by "women in general towards aviation"?

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 7:03 PM    Report this comment

David and Walt bring up the differences between urban and rural female student starts--attributing them to income and costs. Walt also brings up an important point about "independence" (financially and psychologically).

My opinion has always been that the latter is the most important. One of my operations was in a Metro area suburb--within commuting distance of the metro, so income was the same (and living costs were actually lower). There was no discernable difference in the number of student starts by women from my operations located 100 miles outside the metro.

I believe that Walt hit it on the head, though, when he said it was "pychological independence." Rural women are strong--both physically and mentally--they have to be to do the tasks related to rural living. Rural women, however, often have a social network of family and/or friends--and if their family or friends don't fly, they likely won't either.

Contrast that with the self-assurance needed to make it in an urban area. People there are comfortable being in control--are often in a management position and used to making decisions--have more varied interests and a more diverse group of friends, and yes--may have more access to money. They ARE more likely to learn to fly.

continued

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 7:21 PM    Report this comment

The exception to the above? Right here on this thread--Alaskan women who are comfortable being around airplanes, whose whole way of life exudes self-assurance.

If we are going to target ANY market--THESE are the people we need to target--but then, that is true whether they are male or female.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 7:22 PM    Report this comment

I had some time (what ELSE do you do when SOMEBODY has to be at the FBO at 7:30 P.M.?) (laugh) so I tried checking to see if women were more or less well-represented in helicopters. I have operated a Bell 47 and a Hughes 300--now have an Enstrom--but when we did give helicopter instruction, it seems that we had closer parity on inquiries between male and female than we did with airplanes. I DO see more women helicopter instructors than before--but that may be a function of their lighter weight suiting the R-22 trainers favored today.

A check on line showed that the latest year with statistics is 2006, when there were 892 ACTIVE women civil helicopter pilots out of just over 20,000 total helicopter pilots--about 4.5%. So much for that theory! I find no record showing gender of RECENT helicopter ratings acquired--but if I had to guess, I would guess that there is a higher percentage of women than the statistical average for the helicopter population as a whole.

While searching, I found that 5% of ATP rated pilots are women--considering that airline hiring for women is a fairly recent phenomenon, it is amazing that the percentage mirrors the TOTAL percentage of pilots that are women. Again, my guess is that the 5% figure has increased in the last few years.

Posted by: jim hanson | September 29, 2010 7:45 PM    Report this comment

Interesting statistics, Jim. My son-in-law is a Navy MH60R pilot - and his commanding officer is a woman. But I suspect the <10% statistic would apply in their world as well.

Posted by: Walt Woltosz | September 29, 2010 7:54 PM    Report this comment

I never thought about flying until I was the recipient of a gift certificate for an introductory flight. Since then, I earned my private pilot certificate, instrument rating, multiengine rating with instrument privileges, and the AGI and taught ground school for 4 years. I am now the owner of a wonderful Piper Dakota. I get my hands dirty every time I fly. My husband followed behind me and earned his private certificate and then I forced him to get his intrument rating! I just do not understand this male/female thing. I have been fairly disgusted with some of the posting on this site. I really do not care --- I love my aircraft and I constantly strive to be the best that I can be!

Posted by: Amy Carpenter | September 29, 2010 10:09 PM    Report this comment

Amy... good for you. Keep up the good work. I saw Julie Clark on THE AVIATORS tonight. She is a very good spokeswoman for aviation. I would want to emulate her.

Posted by: Erissa Yong | September 29, 2010 10:22 PM    Report this comment

Enough is enough I've read enough and will now leave. Did I mention I have Grand Daughters? So there is hope for me yet!

Keep up the flying for our time is limited especially if the authorities get their way I'll use the King experience in this case. See you on the next issue that catches my eye :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | September 30, 2010 3:38 AM    Report this comment

"I just do not understand this male/female thing...I love my aircraft"

Yea, that's I've been saying. Either your hooked on flying or your not. In this day and age FBO's don't see sex, they see students.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 30, 2010 7:38 AM    Report this comment

Rather than engaging in this debate, I would simply like to offer a few observations.

The first has to do with marketing. I am 38 years old and when I was 18 and looking for a place to go to college, I ordered a brochure from a major US flight academy. Why? Because my father is a GA pilot and I wanted to fly, too. But there was a problem: Not a single woman was featured in any photo in the brochure. I didn't think I would belong there and felt it would be difficult to make friends on campus, so I threw the catalog away and resigned to put flight training on the shelf until after college. I ended up going to the University of Maryland in College Park, and attending an air show at the College Park Airport in the early 1990s, which renewed my interest in pursuing flight training. Enter problem number two: I didn't have any money. Fast forward a decade and there I was, with a full time job, happily nestled in the left seat of a Cessna 152, making my first solo flight.

I was the only female on my flying club's roster and today, there is just one other. I am the only female CFI (and a double-I at that) in the group. I am a member of the Washington, DC Ninety Nines chapter and I have just one female student.

I think flying is a great way for any person, female or male, to gain self confidence and experience nature from a unique perspective.

Posted by: Meredith Tcherniavsky | September 30, 2010 7:39 AM    Report this comment

Meredith, you bring up an interesting point. Why did you not fly with your father? Why did you not at least solo in high school? Why did you wait all through college to get near a plane?

Blaming one sales add is easy; but it's just wrong. If you were interested in flying then model airplanes and airports would have been your normal haunts at 18. I don't see little girls flying model planes either and so obviously something is different early on.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 30, 2010 10:06 AM    Report this comment

@Mark Fraser: I did fly with my father as a child, and I did spent many weekends at the airport with him, but I did not take lessons as a teen for a variety of reasons, money being one of them. Don't be so quick to judge other people, especially people you don't know. As I said, I was just making an observation, not judging anyone including the flight schools.

Posted by: Meredith Tcherniavsky | September 30, 2010 10:15 AM    Report this comment

I'm the wife of one of the pilots here on this thread, electrical engineer, 19 years in the defense industry, and 10 years now running my own business. I have never cared for flying. (Dropped out of ground school - the only good part was the vector analysis). I always much preferred sailing. I am also a co-owner of a Beech. We have a good deal of fun, but for me it is just a way to a destination. Boats, on the other hand, I adore, for the sheer physicality of the experience.

I did not see a chief reason mentioned in this thread about the animosity (or indifference) of wives. Wives (and I use the gender-specific spousal term intentionally) have nearly always -- according to the financial magazines -- been the "guardian" of the household, providing a more risk adverse attitude on long term decision-making. While this is a generality, and spendthrifts exist in both genders, my initial disapproval of the aircraft was that it was a direct threat to our retirement security. It eats into "cushion" that I do not like to give up. While I have grown used to our little jaunts, I think that a frequent issue is not "dislike of flying" but "dislike of the impact to long term financial security".

It is, fortunately, tempered by the fact I realize how very much my spouse loves to fly. But despite an "A++" for my spouse, for involving me, I'll never be "that into it". But I faithfully write the check for its bank account each month without too much grumbling.

Posted by: Cheryl Campbell | September 30, 2010 10:52 AM    Report this comment

I merely observer that girls don't even get into dirt-cheap and gender-neutral model aviation or even freely study the gender-neutral written test. It's an observation of a reality that counters the "feeling" that sex-identified advertisements is what gets people into flying.

I still remember mowing yards to buy balsa for scratch-building planes in grade school; no advertisements needed.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 30, 2010 11:03 AM    Report this comment

As a pilot for 34 years and having been around general aviation for longer than that, I must be living the dream here at Poplar Grove Airport(C77). In Northern Illinois at our rural community of 400+ based aircraft, over 60 female student, private and professional pilots coexist seamlessly with the male pilot bunch! When I think about it, we have had a female instructor here on staff since the airport began in 1973. This wasn't by design or because of some ad or government program, it just was...seriously, isn't the goal to share the wonderful world of aviation with EVERYONE? Let's promote aviation-doesn't matter what you are wearing, who you are, what you do, how old you are or how your manicure looks. Let's just promote FLYING-the most life-changing, exciting, stimulating, challenging, rewarding, glorious way to live that I know of! Here the gender business is a non-isssue, whether it is our female tailwheel pilots or 747 captains. Everyone shares their passion of flying. Great camaraderie and support exists among all pilots!

Give me a couple hundred gallons of avgas to put through a Pratt & Whitney R-985 any day, love that feel and smell on my hands...chipped nails and all.

Kristina(Tina)Thomas ATP,CFII,MEL,SEL

Owner and pilot of some fascinating old, noisy, smelly airplanes that don't care who is flying them.

Posted by: Tina Thomas | September 30, 2010 11:12 AM    Report this comment

My wife is a pilot and, yes, she gets condescended to by "some" pilots, but mostly by A&Ps and other "FAA Approved" people. But she gets the same thing from people who are not Directors in Fortune 500 companies i.e. she get the bums rush from people who are envious of her success in life. So be it... so do I. So what.

Tiny people have tiny minds and it shows.

As to the lack of women in aviation... who cares. If they want it, they can achieve it as there is nothing in the regs, to my knowledge, stopping them.

Posted by: David Spencer | September 30, 2010 12:24 PM    Report this comment

Why is it that there always has to be a reason for things like this? Is it possible not as many women enjoy flying? Oh my what a novel thought! Why is it that more women than men are in step aerobics (yes i attend classes and am usually the only male) or more men than women are hunters? I'm a guy but I gotta say these questions are forever perplexing. Why can't we just all support each other and quit searching for answers when there aren't any.

Posted by: John Fulton | September 30, 2010 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Role models & social acceptance: When I entered pharmacy school in 43 yr ago, women were 10% of pharmacy students. My pharmacy professors were men. One professor told me that females didn't belong in pharmacy school. This professor would stand before his class (on more than l occasion) & say that women should be kept barefoot, pregnant & not take the place in pharmacy school that 'rightfully' belonged to a male. How do you think females felt? I NEVER had a professor tell me that males didn't belong in pharmacy school. Why?

Because society has an effect on each individual, I believe the society I grew up in kept women out of the cockpit. I don't remember an adult from my childhood ever suggesting a daughter become a pilot. I remember adults encouraging sons to be pilots, doctors, lawyers, dentists. I remember daughters encouraged to be secretaries, teachers, nurses. Guess which careers offered more prestige & financial reward? What underlying message might females have internalized? The daughter might conclude it wasn't proper/acceptable to want a job society considered "a man's job". She might conclude nobody considered her worthy/competent/ intelligent/capable enough. Not good enough simply because of her GENDER. Society conspired to keep girls compliant, well behaved. What about when boys misbehaved? Haven't you heard the saying? Boys will be boys! (con't)

Posted by: Susan Simmons | September 30, 2010 11:11 PM    Report this comment

The double standard that existed then is forever etched in my memory. Boys got to stay out late, girls didn't. Boy 14 got a pellet gun for Christmas, but girl who asked at 14 was instead given doll. College boys could wear long pants to go bowling. Girl who did this given publicly announced, humiliating demerit by dorm-mother for her outrageous behavior - only skirts/dresses allowed. Girls must sign out/in to their dorms at night; boys were not so required. How do you think this impacted self-image of these girls? How do you think if affected self-image of the boys? What messages were internalized?

Children looked to parents/other adults for guidance. If adults encouraged sons to become pilots & did not encourage daughters to become pilots, who do you think actually became pilots????

This conditioning can take a lifetime to overcome. Not until I was 59 years old did I finally face these demons within me. With the impetus of a friend or a business associate dropping dead around me every couple of months, I felt it was now or never. I made the commitment. Got my private pilot certificate at age 60 followed a month later by my complex/high performance endorsement. Got my IFR rating at 62 followed by my tail wheel endorsement followed by my glider rating followed by my motor glider endorsement. To the seasoned male pilot these accomplishments may be somewhat ordinary, but for me, as I look back from where I came, it's a source of great satisfaction.

Posted by: Susan Simmons | September 30, 2010 11:21 PM    Report this comment

So I want to say, from one Susan to the other Susan who's posting: I applaud your efforts. Remember: "can't never could"; if I can do it, you can do it; never say never. You go, girl. Be the change you want to see!

One might argue that the barriers I faced don't exist today. You are right - to an extent. But women still earn ~$.70 on the dollar of what men earn. So there's that cost difference. And I think you're fooling yourself if you think the relative scarcity of females roles models has no impact. But the world I live in today is so incredibly different from the one I grew up in that I'm continually amazed & encouraged. Opportunities for women abound. And I won't be surprised at all if the number of women pilots in the USA one day equals the number of men pilots. After all, I've lived long enough to see the ratio of women pharmacy students to men pharmacy students go from 10%/90% to 90% women/10% men today. Just the reverse of what it had been!

Posted by: Susan Simmons | September 30, 2010 11:24 PM    Report this comment

Oh Susan ~ could be (for me at least) three of the best postings of the entire discussion because of the inspiration oozing from them. As well as truth. Thank you for your encouragement, made all the more meaningful because of your wonderful perspective. Couldn't ask for better "been there, done that" based optimism to offer hope that things WILL improve for women in aviation as time goes by.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | September 30, 2010 11:34 PM    Report this comment

Thank you, Susan. The answer is that most Women require social interaction with other Women and social leadership in that group also has to be Woman. Most Women won't "jump in" unless a lot of Women are already present and there is a clear Woman leader (Female role model) for them to follow.

So you see, women calling aviation "sexist" is absolutely true; it's because there are not enough women in it to support a woman's need for socializing only with other women. The PROBLEM is calling the men sexists simply because 1)men exist and 2)men have not "lured in" enough women with advertisements to make YOU feel comfortable enough. Oh, sexism is real, but blaming men for lack of women in aviation is over-the-top.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 8:24 AM    Report this comment

Keep thinking I'm done w/this, and then another button gets pushed :-) Mark, Women don't REQUIRE social interaction w/other women; social leadership in the group doesn't HAVE to be a woman. I'll call sexist on you for that. That's absolute baloney. We don't *need* others of our own gender to commiserate w/us to succeed. I've been equally mentored & encouraged by male & female pilots; couldn't/wouldn't/absolutely don't want to see any of them gender specifically - they are phenomenal PILOTS period & I wouldn't have gotten as far as I have in persuing my flying without them. The men however, did not/do not have "sexist" attitudes & treat me like a PERSON. I resonated with Susan's comments because she's seeing things from my perspective as a female – you’ll never do that because – you’re not one! But I don't think she'll argue w/my thoughts now. You keep trying to turn this into a "we need to feel comfortable" thing … we’re looking for “special treatment.” NO. We just need to feel equally treated. And although there are exceptions, too often we're still not. And its limiting GA's expansion. IMO. I’m NOT pushing gender specific advertising; I think that’s counter-productive too. I’m pushing “pilots are pilots, regardless of gender.” Show em’ all …

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 9:05 AM    Report this comment

Hi Susan,

While you're trying to tear down mental barriers, please don't repeat the old "$0.70 on the dollar" story. It suggests that sexism is a major barrier to career advancement, but there's little or no evidence for that these days. A recent analysis of Census data found that in most US cities, never-married women aged 22-30 were earning an average of 8% MORE than men. (To find that report, run a web search on the phrase "Cities Where Women Outearn Male Counterparts".)

So, women should not be held back by general fears of sexism in employment. Perhaps men should, but not women!

Posted by: Finbar Sheehy | October 1, 2010 9:30 AM    Report this comment

Hi Finbar - that seems fair to me that we're finally outearning you guys somewhat given history :) But let me reiterate here that I'm not arguing across the board sexism in the world. I'm merely discussing how the existence of it in the aviation world is - imho (and we all have our own!)affecting the ability to increase the numbers in GA. SO many factors do that of course, and I just feel that is *one* of them. I feel GA is dying out; I feel there's sadly too many negatives i.e. money and perception by the general public working against it; I feel that if it could be discussed why/what/how there's not more of a percentage of women in aviation ... try and fix that for WHATEVER reason ... it would be a good thing and perhaps help. Over and out :-)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 9:38 AM    Report this comment

If PILOTS ARE PILOTS regardless of gender then there are plenty of role models in Aviation! If PILOTS ARE PILOTS regardless of gender then why even care about gender percentages!

I treat everyone as a person and that seems to bother those who insist that there is a "feminine perspective" that has to be catered to. Either ignore sex or be a sexists, you can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Aw, gotta smile. Keep on keeping on Mark. You're seeing this through your own lens; and nothing wrong with that, I am too. But how many times do I have to say I'm not looking for "special treatment" or "catering to?"

And you can say "either ignore sex or be a sexist, you can't have it both ways" and have my respect for the statement? After you've been made uncomfortable in an aircraft during a checkride because the female examiner put the moves on you; or been ignored at the fuel pumps because the attendent just assumed the GUY .. was the pilot; or had a male passenger express concern that because you were blond & petite, didn't "look the part" and were sitting in the pilots seat that his life might be in danger ... I could go on ~ but I think that's enough for now.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Susan, guys are as imperfect as gals. Either you have fun with it or you choose to let it bother you.

A petite blond girl PIC can just as easily get a line boys attention or have fun with such a passenger by saying to the copilot "Thanks Ted for letting me play dress up in your uniform and fly your plane today!". Yes, girls CAN get have fun; girls can tease as much as guys.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 11:16 AM    Report this comment

LOL ...” Susan, guys are as imperfect as gals. Either you have fun with it or you choose to let it bother you.” Oh yes indeedy Mark, of course you guys are, and of course we are too. And I don't let it "bother" me, except in the sense that as a female - in a way you obviously don't/won't/can't get - I see how it’s affecting GA's ability to bring more of us into its fold. Fun is great; I'm all for it - I'm having it now discussing all this with you. I'm not intimidated, put off or deterred. Nor was I ever under numerous scenarios where it was me - feminine entity - interviewing/learning from manly male pilots including some P-51 Aces that did however have me cowering in deep respect :) Point being? As long as your underlying mindset is that we should lighten up and take this manly "kidding" not so seriously - and refuse to see the underlying obnoxious element that is there can be for a woman at times when the guys "aren't" ... just kidding, something it’s simply a fact we females DO occasionally have to deal with? We might as well just agree to disagree.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 11:27 AM    Report this comment

The double standard that existed then is forever etched in my memory. Boys got to stay out late, girls didn't. Boy 14 got a pellet gun for Christmas, but girl who asked at 14 was instead given doll. College boys could wear long pants to go bowling. Girl who did this given publicly announced, humiliating demerit by dorm-mother for her outrageous behavior - only skirts/dresses allowed. Girls must sign out/in to their dorms at night; boys were not so required. How do you think this impacted self-image of these girls? How do you think if affected self-image of the boys? What messages were internalized? ===================================================================

I doubt there is human being alive that has at one time or another felt that way. You either get over and move on or stay stuck in the past. Get over it, do the job, be the best that one can be, and these ing will take care of themselves. You cannot change history, only the future through actions.

Posted by: John Fulton | October 1, 2010 11:34 AM    Report this comment

And isn't that what this discussion is all about John? "changing the future through actions?" It was in acknowledging those internalized messages - taking actions to counter-act the subtle and not so subtle lessons being taught there - that women were able to reverse so many areas of our lives where we were treated as less than men. I applaud Susan wholeheartedly both for so beautifully by example, showing just exactly how her actions and refusal to stay within the expected stereotype - gave her future - literally wings.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 11:41 AM    Report this comment

oops - didn't finish the "both" AND ... for how her sharing her own story here of having lived through and changing for hersel the limiting conditions (perceived true/valid by you GUYS or not)that existed - helped give needed perspective to this discussion.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 11:45 AM    Report this comment

"Point being? As long as your underlying mindset is that we should lighten up and take this manly "kidding" not so seriously - and refuse to see the underlying obnoxious element" --------------------------------------------

Well, PIC means Pilot In Command. If you're in command (in any sport or business) then yes YOU DO have to expect competitive ribbing as part of the territory. NFL coaches are not nice to each other on the job. Steve Jobs does not speak fondly of Bill Gates on the job. Nancy Pelosi does not speak fondly about Sarah Palin. Is that wrong?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 11:51 AM    Report this comment

The first women who learn to fly looked the other way and did it anyway. But is it that 100 years later, why is it so controversial to question why the women pilots today still have to look the other way without getting a "get other it" remark?

It is human nature, not female nature, to want to associate with people that look like ourselves as demonstrated in any cities neighborhoods (wealthy with wealthy, Mexicans with Mexicans, Caucasian with Caucasian).

When I wrote this article, I believe that the industry, unintentionally overlook this problem because it is easy to loose sight of our behavior while dealing with the daily grind. However, a few of the male postings here confirm the behavior but sadly seem to claim that that behavior is acceptable.

Posted by: Flying Bug | October 1, 2010 11:57 AM    Report this comment

The first women who learn to fly looked the other way and did it anyway. But is it that 100 years later, why is it so controversial to question why the women pilots today still have to look the other way without getting a "get other it" remark?

It is human nature, not female nature, to want to associate with people that look like ourselves as demonstrated in any cities neighborhoods (wealthy with wealthy, Mexicans with Mexicans, Caucasian with Caucasian).

When I wrote this article, I believe that the industry, unintentionally overlook this problem because it is easy to loose sight of our behavior while dealing with the daily grind. However, a few of the male postings here confirm the behavior but sadly seem to claim that that behavior is acceptable.

Posted by: Flying Bug | October 1, 2010 11:58 AM    Report this comment

You're refusing to see the difference between "competitive ribbing" and sexual discrimination and harassment Mark. Whether its conscious or unconscious on the part of the person doing it - that's what it is. Have at it to them in all of those examples you just cited of "competitive ribbing" I have no problem with any of those. What I DO have a problem with? Are the aviation related examples I quoted above. Did you read and really think about them Mark? They're obnoxious. Sure, I suppose they can be laughed off. But at the time they occurred? They were serious .. and I'm sorry, but no way are any of them "funny" or to be considered "competitive ribbing." In two cases - the ramp attendant at the gas pump SERIOUSLY not even considering that the female could be the pilot - and the man seriously concerned that the petite blond copter pilot about to take him on a Grand Canyon tour wasn't "competent" (former Blackhawk pilot in Iraq)can't be classified as "competitive ribbing" Mark, no matter how you spin them. And the examiner? That was blatant harassment. And until you're a woman, don't be so arrogant as to argue that it wasn't.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 12:03 PM    Report this comment

Susan Terrell--"But how many times do I have to say I'm not looking for "special treatment" or "catering to?"

I think that's what Mark and I are saying--just let pilots be pilots--no special favors, no quotas, no special treatment.

Interesting--YOU didn't ask for special treatment, nor did Elissa. Susan Simmons went out and did it on her own. If women want to be accepted and treated equally by men, that's the way it should be done--EQUAL treatment--no special favors. Most men ADMIRE women that compete on equal terms terms.

Also interesting--though most of the professional WOMEN don't ask for special treatment--read back through this thread and see how many MEN wring their hands and seem to think it is a good idea.

Women should reject special treatment. Every time a 350-hour woman pilot is hired by an airline due to a quota system, other pilots will think less of her--even if she is a great pilot.

And THAT is a battle that women can't win.

Posted by: jim hanson | October 1, 2010 12:05 PM    Report this comment

I take exception to "competitive ribbing" and the examples sited are very poor representations. (NFL coaches are not nice to each other on the job. Steve Jobs does not speak fondly of Bill Gates on the job. Nancy Pelosi does not speak fondly about Sarah Palin.) These examples ARE ALL MEANT to gain competitive advantage, and among a diverse group of GA aviators, it is JUST THAT: An attempt to put down or gain a psychological advantage. If it is between two equal rank/experience aviators in a pilot ready room over a beer and jokes with both laughing equally, it's acceptable. However, if it is dealt from a superior position (CA to FO, CFI to student, or old hat to a newbie) it is not and I never tolerated it in any of my organizations. In my 40 years of aviation from military fighters, instructor, CFI, airline instructor and fleet manager and father of three I felt this type of humor was unacceptable unless EVERYONE laughed equally. In most cases they don't, and therefor it's wrong. There, that' off my chest!

Posted by: Burns Moore | October 1, 2010 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Jim I agree with pretty much all you just wrote above. But if (and at least it's MY motivation/reason at this point :) we're talking about all this specifically from the perspective of how the sexism trying to be pointed out & be acknowledged, affects the "number" of pilots attracted to GA ... tell me how we overcome the problem of the 3 examples I gave above? You, Mark, others that keep ignoring them: Do you suggest we ignore that those things happen - and more often than merely those examples? Do we tell woman to "get over it" and "it's a battle you can't win"? We should NOT get special treatment - totally agree. But we also should NOT be put in positions like those I am using as examples. That's just wrong - no matter how you want to argue it. And it hurts GA. And that's why I'm still here sounding like a broken record. I care. And I think this is important enough to keep trying to get through.......

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Mirelle, Private piloting is riskier than driving a motorcycle. Commercial piloting is a risky career and is very competitive. Lord knows that owning a private plane is not for the timid.

Maybe 100 years has proven that AVIATION will never be commonplace, dull, or easy?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 12:32 PM    Report this comment

"Maybe 100 years has proven that AVIATION will never be commonplace, dull, or easy?" And always by that ... a man's thing? What's the point of pointing out this obvious Mark? Seriously - what are you getting at in pointing that out? I'm willing to guess that not one of the people who are partaking in this discussion think anything related to flying an airplane is commonplace, dull or easy. And for SURE Mirelle doesn't think so given her impressive credentials and background. So what's your point? And how does it relate to what is being discussed? And yes, I suspect it'll roll back around to what you keep alluding to - that women need to be tough & suck it up to be a pilot and involved in aviation ... this is no place for wimps - and if we can't take the heat, get out of the frying pan?

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 12:39 PM    Report this comment

In life, one can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Neutral is not an option as it maintains the status-quo and thus is part of the problem.

Equality means being treated as an equality desirable potential customer when you walk to a booth at an aviation trade-show, or when you look into learning to fly, or when you bring your airplane to gas pump. The women pilots of today are experiencing that inequality, are talking about it in this comments section and are asking for equality of treatment. Why is that so offending to some?

Posted by: Flying Bug | October 1, 2010 12:42 PM    Report this comment

Point being is that AVIATION is still awfully risky and the only "attitude" that matters is for SAFETY. To accept the left seat means that you have to accept to put your feelings and social situations on hold.

The number of females is irrelevant to safety. Nuf said.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 1:02 PM    Report this comment

Why is that so offending to some?<<

Because you haven't made a convincing case that your fact pattern is correct or at least correct enough outside the range of overlapping perceptions between males and females. It doesn't pass the reasonable person test. (Aviation only, by the way.)

The difficult paradox that clearly frustrates you (and Mark) is the desire to be treated equally but also appearing to want special treatment. I pointed out that the industry is doing a pretty good job of showing women in these roles, but one of the women responders couldn't be bothered to look at that, let alone acknowledge it. How does this help your cause?

And by the way, I reject your notion that neutral is not acceptable. I am close to that. Since the 1970s, at least, I have chosen to view men and women and people of color as equally as possible. I don't hold a door for a woman that I wouldn't also hold for a man. Slide your own chair under the table at dinner. I tilt toward hiring women over men because of favorable experience.

Actually, in aviation, women may have achieved more equality than in other segments. I believe a woman captain of equivalent seniority is paid the same as a man. That's certainly not true in the board room and that is a real problem.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2010 1:02 PM    Report this comment

Being offended is not on my plate. But the insistance of a 'problem' with human nature whatever the manifestation to the extent of denying your own responsibility to find your own ways of gaining indifference to it is a greater hinderance to gaining more female representation in aviation than the finger pointing is to the perceived problem.

One either sees that or they don't.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2010 1:03 PM    Report this comment

I know you are frustrated by this. But the reality is if a man doesn't see it as the problem that you make it out to be, he is...well, you know. I like Tina Thomas's approach. Just go out to the airport and fly. This issue--real to you, not so real to others--will evolve.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2010 1:04 PM    Report this comment

I know you are frustrated by this. But the reality is if a man doesn't see it as the problem that you make it out to be, he is...well, you know. I like Tina Thomas's approach. Just go out to the airport and fly. This issue--real to you, not so real to others--will evolve.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2010 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Unbelievable. Seriously gentlemen, although I'm not surprised at this point in the conversation; this is all so enlightening. This isn't about "feeling offended" & isn't about a problem with "human nature" Why in the world should a female pilot be subjected to treatment affording her less respect than the attainment of a PPL should give ANY human being sitting left seat as PIC? Paul & Dave your last comments are mindboggling. And I genuinely wouldn't care. Seriously - would NOT give a flying you-know-what? Except I do have a granddaughter hopefully coming up in the ranks, I see girls showing up at Young Eagles & I see a huge problem for GA. I want to see it still be there for those girls. And the fact that especially you Paul, in your position, refuse to see it, truly makes me sad for the future of GA. Dave accuses us Mirelle, of "denying our own responsibility to find our own ways of gaining indifference" & that our failure to do so is a hindrance to more female representation in aviation. As I've already alluded to here Dave - I can be as zen as the next person. But to imply "ignore this and it will go away" is naive at best and yes, sexist at worst. I want to let this go. But it’s too important. Mirelle I’m grateful you’ve given this all room to get aired. Same to AvWeb. And respectfully Paul? “This issue--real to you, not so real to others--will evolve.” If you want GA to survive (because if it stays a man’s world it won’t) you might want to rethink that attitude. IMHO.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 1:26 PM    Report this comment

And I have no problem putting an e-mail address out into the big scary world: slterrel@gmail.com Anyone interested in commenting on all this off the grid here is welcome to e-mail me. The woman who loves aviation in me is pissed - the writer in me is getting itchy fingers.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 1:30 PM    Report this comment

Dissappointing you feel that way, Susan. I don't mind if you need to categorize me as a Buddist or whatever, but if you really are able to be 'as zen as the next person', what is stopping you?

No one is saying to ignore some perceived problem, just gain personal control and indifference to it, dissolving it's power over you. This problem you and others perceive shows tremendous influence over you, is self-limiting and affects how you see life. It is not sexist (quite the opposite) or naive to illuminate this. My viewpoint is much kinder and overreaching than you give credit for. My work on a daily basis is in this area of fear and behavior problems with children mostly, and when they realize their own inherent free will to create a better world than they have been told or falsely perceived, the realization rocks the richter scales.

Everything really is as it should be, but wanting to change others or others' behavior will keep you eternally frustrated. Sorry you don't see that.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2010 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Respect is earned. GA has bigger fish to fry. That's why "the problem" is not a primary concern.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 1, 2010 1:53 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I'd come to your aid, since as I define the word "neutral" (and I assume you also) that should be the desired end state, but I don't know what to say that hasn't already been stated. I believe that "neutral" is a scenario where we all pursue our individual aviation goals within our respective talent horizon on a level playing field. The only acceptable limits would be our imagination, talent and (unfortunately ) financial reserve. My daughter would be very easy and fun to teach, but between her husband, baby, horse & law career her plate is ful

Posted by: Burns Moore | October 1, 2010 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Susan - it was no different at nearly 20 years as engineering and division manager in the overwhelmingly male defense-related satellite business. I fully understand (and quit rather abruptly to go out on my own 10 years ago - a sanity restoring move that worked out well). I think a lot of these accumulated slights - real or perceived- will go away, as many more men work at what were formerly "womens" jobs. This seismic shift in the work history of men and women, and increased mingling of genders in the workplace, will certainly lead to changes - though how good or bad it will be, remains to be seen!

Posted by: Cheryl Campbell | October 1, 2010 2:36 PM    Report this comment

I see girls showing up at Young Eagles & I see a huge problem for GA. <<

What the heck? A responder or two said female Young Eagles are showing up and being flown and doing well. I show you an EAA young Eagles page in which the images are majority girls. By accident or intent, that shows female involvement and opportunity.

What do you want of us? Why is necessary to think *exactly* like you on this subject? You and I clearly don't share the same view of this, but I would not in a thousand years call your opinion "unbelievable" because it implies the lack of respect you insist upon but decline to return to me.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 1, 2010 3:03 PM    Report this comment

Paul here's why I'm going to continue to be a dog with a bone on this one: yes, girls are showing up for Young Eagles. That is WONDERFUL. Two biggies though - will there be a GA for them when they're old enough to want to be pilots, and more importantly? MUCH more importantly? If by my continuing to stand up for my perspective on this point - if just one male goes "Hmmmmm" and maybe a small shift occurs that makes sure none of those enthusiastic female future pilots gets deliberately disrespected or harassed *because she is female?* Then it’s worth it. I am NOT looking for you to think *exactly* like I do on this subject – quit assuming. But you represent GA in your position & the fact that I don't even feel like we're still close to even a middle ground; feel that you're truly listening and respecting MY point of view? As long as you continue to make statements like: "But the reality is if a man doesn't see it as the problem that you make it out to be, he is...well, you know. I like Tina Thomas's approach. Just go out to the airport and fly. This issue--real to you, not so real to others--will evolve." I'll continue to discuss this. The article, this discussion, combined with the perspective I already had? Has truly opened my eyes.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 4:13 PM    Report this comment

David, sorry I disappoint. My reference to being zen was expressing how *I* perceived you asked me to be. I didn’t categorize you as a Buddhist. I am a deep believer in the power of intent: where is a persons’ mind & heart truly at when they speak or act? This issue doesn’t have “tremendous influence” over me. This has me motivated to try and make things better. And I realize one of the huge issues here? Is truly – and I don’t mean this as put-down, or disrespectful? But men absolutely cannot understand what it’s like to be in our shoes when incidents occur like those 3 I keep throwing out as examples of what is wrong. You can’t; because as a MAN, you can’t experience it. So what CAN you do? You & other men here can step out of your absolutes; you can let go of “boy these women are being self-limiting and going so unnecessarily negative” & instead wonder if maybe, just maybe? There’s something to all this. Because there is. I am exercising my inherent free will to create a better world because in an “earth rocking” realization? I know my heart & mind is in the right place on this. And naïve as it might be to feel this way, I don’t want any of those girls in Young Eagles, or my granddaughter to ever experience anything less than total respect from the men of the aviation community when they’ve rightly earned it by becoming pilots. Wanting to change things for the better, doing so from a place of good intent? Can change the world David. Sorry you don’t see that.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 4:29 PM    Report this comment

Cheryl thanks for the personal perspective – the more added here from women, obviously the better. I hope you're right about what the future will bring; I'll certainly look toward that being the case. But like some here seem to feel - I don’t think talking about and airing all of this is a negative thing. Again, if there's going to be a GA for this to all not be an issue IN ... GA needs more people involved, participating and becoming pilots. I'm not saying this is the ONLY problem that GA has, nor that this is the be-all, end-all solution - end sexism and GA survives! Please. What I *am* expressing though is my belief that there is a problem that could be made better, but won't unless it's brought out and talked about. And that sure seems to have ruffled some plumage :)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 4:40 PM    Report this comment

And some of us are saying it is fruitless, somewhat arrogant, but very ignorant to want to change the world by changing others instead of onesself.

I've been a therapist for many years, earning money outside the home. But when I became an at-home-dad 11 years ago and worked from inside the home, things were quite different. You may not believe me or accept this, but the disgust, anger and condesention I got from, honestly, about 94% of the women I met that I would not get out and work 'like a man should' wasn't at all surprising to me. Even my own mother didn't support it. But no problem, after chatting with them a few minutes usually they were softened up enough so I could show them my blazing, super-fast diaper-changing techniques. Only the really angry and biased ones didn't come around, but that's ok. They weren't ready to accept it yet.

Just a personal story to show a little bit that things are not always what they seem. Best to you and your pilot-to-be granddaughter, may she fly above it all always.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2010 5:49 PM    Report this comment

Respectfully Dave, don't assume please? Never said I want to change others Dave. I do aspire however to change their opinion/perspective - perhaps make others think. Ask of them as male pilots in a world where they statistically dominate - to discuss/think about/consider - the perspective of what it is like to be a female in their shoes. Good, good, good for you for being an at-home Dad. Cannot tell you how much I appreciate & admire that. My son works outside the home during the day, then comes home & is at-home-Dad while Mom works nights. Shame on any females that dissed/dis-respected you or were anything less than supportive. I totally agree - show 'em you got the stuff & then watch the one's with some heart melt, accept & respect. And yes, hopefully the angry/biased ones in their own time will come around if meant to be. That's exactly why I'm still here discussing this.

And if I'm coming across as arrogant, my apologies - I am absolutely not what's important here. The future for those little girls is. And if I can make waves now and maybe, maybe cause their boat to get a little less rocked? I'll weather whatever perceptions of me people want to have.

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Respectfully Dave, don't assume please? Never said I want to change others Dave.

Study the above for the final exam. Uncle.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2010 8:52 PM    Report this comment

So I'll see your Uncle ~ and raise you a Grandma ….and in reviewing the final exam I will give you that IF, I were to define "changing others" as meaning changing anything of theirs - including their opinion? You got me fair and square - F.

But IF, as I was when I wrote that - I was defining "changing others" as meaning changing who they are intrinsically - I'll give myself a B (no A, because I should have been much clearer.) Everybody is who they are Dave - geez I'm saying that to a therapist for cryin' out loud. I read the words "change someone" and ALL I think is the ability to chancetheir opinion or perspective, because my life experience has taught me you cannot change who a person IS. You’ll either get that – or you won’t. So Uncle here too. It will all be - what it'll be in the end. Can't be any worse for the sake of little girls who want to grow up to be pilots … to speak my female adult truth.

Go Giants :)

Posted by: Susan Terrell | October 1, 2010 9:22 PM    Report this comment

so, I am thinking of getting a transgender procedure done in the next couple of years. I need to change. I wonder ....upon completion, will I be a male or female pilot? I know the debate here will still be on after that tho! And Mark, I am pretty wise, but not paranoid. I have no fear. Like Susan, I am looking forward to webcrawlers emailing me.... my email address is erissayong@aol.com Go ahead, make my day!

Posted by: Erissa Yong | October 1, 2010 10:38 PM    Report this comment

Erissa, thank you for stating the obvious.. You can just be a pilot! What a great idea! Keep everyone guessing and maybe finally, Gender Won't Matter Anymore...tho I'm sure there are both male and females out there who don't like transgender humans....ugh, another new blog on how poorly you'll be treated. Sure you are up for that? :) I think the remaining few hairs with any melanin (sp?) in them are gone on my head after this blog...

I'm sure you are as fearless and bold as you say, but in small defense of Mark (yea, I know he's a MAN) nonetheless, I have had my identity stolen, last fall from just such an innocent window as an e-mail address - it cost me thousands, 17 of them to be exact- and quite the headache. Just a friendly fyi from........a MAN.

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 1, 2010 11:04 PM    Report this comment

I wish I could wave a wand and all male pilots would not notice if another pilot is a male or a female. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. In my early career as a flight instructor, I had 7 women as students. My father taught me right to treat them all with respect and expected the same out of them as I did the other 42 male pilots I taught. There were many more, but these are the ones I recommended for solo, PPL flight test, and instrument rating ride. However, I did know other instructors who were not so enlightened. All of their comments had some sexual connotation. When I started with my first airline job, I flew with captains who, when hearing a female controller, would say,"Oh, another empty kitchen." So, yes, bias does exist. I have seen it first hand. What am I supposed to do about it. I have to live in the same cockpit with them. Ok, I don't laugh at their lame jokes, or I tell them they are idiots. What then? Some men never grow up. They spend all of their time thinking not with the head at the top of their neck. Those type of people will never be reformed. I want to ask all of the women who read this, do you remember the men who treated you fairly? Or do you remember more, the ones who did not? I think it is more likely the latter.

Posted by: David Heberling | October 1, 2010 11:07 PM    Report this comment

No - I deeply remember the men who opened doors for me, promoted me, taught me how to play hardball in business, included me in cutting edge technology, supported me in business development. I will never forget them. Sadly, it is the women who didn't play fair that I remember just as much, not because their actions were particularly unusual (across either gender), but because it seemed a violation of a terribly small sisterhood. Fortunately this was quite rare. So, it's not as you would suspect, David.

Posted by: Cheryl Campbell | October 1, 2010 11:20 PM    Report this comment

Good for you , Dave Miller. I've been telling my Mr. mom Spouse that "role reversal" (per our society's expectation) can be a noble thing! And you are a fine example of that , aren't you? It's all about "roles", not gender! Women's been denied the right to play certain roles on our society's stages for centuries.... the lack of women pilots is a trickled down result from this attitude and practise not current, but from 50 years ago or more... It takes 5 generations to heal a dysfunctional family according to John Bradshaw,( A family therapist), so it will take just as many generations to revert any kind of gender bias in the aviation industry I would presume. ( "bias" is value nuetral here in my statement herein). It took courageous women in the past century to effect changes to women's voting rights. It took Helen Reddy and Gloria Steinam etc... to raise awareness to women's rights. On this platform, these women are channeled thru Susan and Susan , and Linda and Mireille and Tina...et al femme today. But on the other hand...as a devil's advocate I say..., you know, WAI and 99ners have scholarships ONLY for women to apply. Now, when I become a male pilot, after my sex change, I might get all choked and scream "sexism" too. what gives? C'est la vie !! C'est de marge!

Posted by: Erissa Yong | October 1, 2010 11:28 PM    Report this comment

I have a niece who learned how to fly as a teenager. She was inspired by a cousin of mine. She went to FIT in Melbourne, FL and came out as a flight instructor. After teaching for a year, she signed on with a corporation that flies rich guys around the country. She has hit the glass ceiling. Some of the rich guys do not want to fly with a female captain (this is Atlanta after all). So, the corporation will not let her upgrade to captain. I couldn't believe it when she told me. Which makes you wonder, why did they hire her in the first place. She is certainly a very capable pilot. I'm sure she could do well anywhere she goes. She does not have any interest in the airlines. This is probably due to the internship she did at my airline during a merger with another airline (I arranged the internship). The animosity she saw between the two pilots groups gave her pause for thought. So, where do we go from here? It is obvious that some of the alphabet groups are trying to show more woman involvement in flying. No individual can change the way things are. Females themselves have to bring other females into aviation. It is only through critical mass that change will happen. Mere brow beating will never make anyone change.

Posted by: David Heberling | October 1, 2010 11:36 PM    Report this comment

Wow! I've read every comment down to here. This year I celebrated my 40th anniversary of soloing. Sure, there are jerks everywhere. Growing up with 5 brothers provided some immunity to getting my feelings hurt. Yes, I have experienced incidents like those described above They don't shape my perception of opportunities or my dedication to my passion. I am a pilot (CFII-MEI been Chief CFI of two 141 schools), ATC (6 military, 4 civilian), weather observer, ex-skydiver (broke both feet on #21), and now make IFR charts. Exposure exposure exposure is the key to getting anyone involved in aviation. My daughter went sky diving recently because she got a coupon for half price. hmmm. it wasn't marketed to women and she did get 3 guys to go with her...none of her friends were interested. I have taken her flying, but she does not have the "bug." We SCUBA dive together. It's more important to me that she sees herself as unlimited. She was born a girly-girl-I honestly don't know where in the gene pool that is. She certainly didn't get it from me. My kitchen has always been empty - LOL! Once I was sauteing onions when the kids came home from school and they both said, "mmmm, what's that smell?" and I said, " it's what your fiends' houses smell like whose mothers know how to cook." Hey, they survived to adulthood. (cont)

Posted by: Cathy Babis | October 2, 2010 1:24 PM    Report this comment

I posted this same comment on another avweb article on a similar topic "Hey Women, where are you?" it started Nov 24th last year: In 1971, I competed for a Civil Air Patrol PPL scholarship - I won. A woman on the panel told me, "we hate to give this to females because they always get married and stop flying, but we had to give it to you because you were clearly the best candidate." Well, every time I earned a rating, I sent her a copy of the certificate. My passion began as a child - my dad had an avionics business and the airport was my Girl Scout cookie route. When I joined the Army to be ATC, only 2% of the people in the Army were women. I joined to get the GI Bill to fund my flying--thank you to the Veteran's Administration. In 1988, I interviewed with United (anyone remember the lawsuit?) While they were required to hire as low as 350, Commercial instrument, Multi, I had 1500 plus CFI, II, and Multi as well as 6 years ATC in the military. Post interview, I got the standard "there were more qualified applicants." letter. Did I mention I was 5 months pregnant (not showing yet) and there was a urine sample required at the interview? Now, I have a great job working with many highly accomplished people in aviation-many of them women. I love to fly and accept any chance to fly that comes my way. I stopped flying for years due to single parenthood, but my passion never waned and reading AVFlash was often my connection to sanity. Read Fate is the Hunter by Ernie Gann.

Posted by: Cathy Babis | October 2, 2010 1:29 PM    Report this comment

What a beautiful and inspiring story Cathy. Good luck and God bless. I agree with you as to anything aviation written by Earnest Gann. As to United, maybe you are better off overall after all they've been through.

Posted by: Burns Moore | October 2, 2010 7:58 PM    Report this comment

This long weekend gave me a chance to read every single post. Wow, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to contribute to this discussion. It gives a great peak at the current state of the industry when it comes to women pilots.

David, the hand that helps is remembered far better and more often than the hand that ignores or the hand that punishes. Most of today’s women pilots have met someone like you, or the many male pilots who took the time to post supportive messages, or the likes of Steve Pearce, U.S. Congressman, ex air force pilot, and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal who wrote a message of support on his website (http://www.peopleforpearce.com/content/why-so-few-women-pilots). All of you are one of the reasons today’s women pilots persevere as there is hope that the road ahead will get smoother.

I’d like to encourage all pilots to look around and see how they can make little changes to make the industry a more welcoming environment for women. I’d like to encourage all women pilots to become acutely aware of their responsibilities as role models for the women pilots to be. And, with less than three months left before the end of the Centennial year, I’d like to encourage everyone to introduce at least one girl or one woman to the joys of piloting to salute the women pilots of the last hundred years.

Posted by: Flying Bug | October 12, 2010 12:21 PM    Report this comment

That may be true. But if this AVWEB forum was based in France you'd only see famous French women aviators listed among the French members commenting on the site. This may not be politically correct to say, but I know a lot more people from where I live, than people who live in other countries. And that holds true even though I am from the "evil" country of the United States . . . .

Posted by: Kim Barnes | March 30, 2011 1:41 PM    Report this comment

Karen, the answer to the question "Why So Few" is answered in the book "I was a woman pilot in 1945" by Winnie LoPinto. Kindle item B00DUQB20I. Winnie uncovered something that has affected women flyers for years after the war. I would urge anyone interested in this topic to read this revealing memoir.

Posted by: Lidia LoPinto | August 6, 2013 2:15 AM    Report this comment

BUT I THOUGHT A ENGLISH WOMAN ? OR WAS IT AMERICAN? AMY JOHNSON ? WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ? WHERES SHE MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE???? SHE FLEW OVER THE SEA ! LAND SEA LAND ! & WHATS THIS GOT TO DO WITH IT? THERES THE SAME RE: ARMY, NAVY AND ARMED FORCES RE: A UNIFORM SO WHY WRITE THIS? ITS A BIT FEMALE SEXIST IMO - But why are there so few women flying?

Like I did, I bet that many little girls dream about flying like a bird. But, I would also bet that most do not dream of growing up to do a job that requires them to dress in men's clothing complete with a straight-cut jacket, a cap designed to enhance male facial traits and a black tie. Given a choice, I suspect most little boys would not dream of doing a job that required them to wear women's clothing on a daily basis either. ! SANDY HOLT www.thaiboxing.co.uk

Posted by: SANDY HOLT | March 25, 2014 9:49 PM    Report this comment

Regarding failing woefully to sign-up like a sex-offender a government court charged a McKinney guy on Thursday.

Larry Wayne Thompson, 75, encounters as much as ten years in government jail. There been hasn't a day established.

They relocated to McKinney but sexiest xxxx scenes didn't sign-up this past year, prosecutors state.

Prosecutors state regarding having child porn Thompson is needed to sign-up like a sex-offender due to a 2000 confidence in Okla. Court public records present they launched in November 2002 and was sentenced XXX sex to thirty weeks in government jail. Thompson relocated in 2007 to Corpus Christi but didn't inform regulators of his alter in tackle, court papers state. In 2011 Thompson was charged for failing woefully to sign-up for that Southeast Area of Tx like a sex-offender within XXXX the Judge and requested to function ten weeks in jail.

Thompson hasbeen kept since his charge in September 2013 in the County prison.

Posted by: Tegan Sumter | August 1, 2014 4:31 AM    Report this comment

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