Podcast: Promotional Programs For Women In Aviation Still Needed

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Making the rounds of your news feed, you’ve probably seen the occasional photo of an all-woman airline crew, something that’s been going on for years but is now more frequent. Does such coverage actually promote women in aviation? Yes, says Erika Armstrong, although we may reach a point where such stories aren’t unique or even necessary.

Speaking at the 9th Redbird Migration training conference in Denver this week, Armstrong reviewed her experiences in being part of an early wave of women aviators in commercial aviation. Although great progress has been made, Armstrong said female representation on the flight deck is still under 5 percent, not so much because real hiring barriers persist but because many young women just don’t realize the opportunity exists.

Erika Armstrong podcast

“I look at the generation where I grew up and if you ask me who my female icon was, it’s Amelia Earhart, right? As far as making the next step to get into the aviation world, we didn’t have a lot of images of women pilots. It was still very rare,” Armstrong says. She’s been an airline, corporate and air ambulance pilot and is now a professor of aviation at MSU Denver. She’s written two books, A Chick in the Cockpit and The Art of Being a Pilot.

In this AVweb podcast, Armstrong says, “We’re seeing now over time there are more and more women and just having that there for the generation now that are in high school … just knowing there are tons of women out there and that there’s a whole network that can help them get through the system that didn’t exist even five years ago. Social media has opened up all the support that you can find. Facebook has a page where pilots can talk about the unique challenges that they have.”

When women first entered the professional ranks, they often had to endure hazing and slights. “The discrimination was blatant, open. It’s still there, but I think we have stepped up and each generation gets a little bit better,” she says.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. What data do we have to conclude that “women” are certainly equal in performance?
    That’s an outrageous and obviously incorrect statement.
    Heck, 95% of men could not be equal in performance to current airline pilots.

  2. From Disciple of Flight:

    Taking a look at chicks vs roosters in the cockpit, and what makes a better pilot.
    The Answer
    I wasn’t searching for the answer because I really didn’t think there was one. I discovered it by chance one day when I was a first officer on a B727-200. Because I witnessed the answer with my own eyes, I accidentally became a better pilot. The answer is quite simple: men and women are different. Shocking, I know, but the question to the answer is: who are better pilots, men or women?
    Go to: disciplesofflight.com/better-pilot-men-or-women/

  3. Okay so it is 5%… can someone tell me what the ‘proper percentage’ should be and why? I think holding up any gender (ethnicity, etc, etc) in an article that highlights their gender (ethnicity, etc, etc) as a factor of interest is demeaning to that gender (ethnicity, etc. etc). We should measure the decline in sexism (racism, etc, etc) by the actual decline in sexism (racism, etc, etc) not by the increased number of previously dejected groups now in the fold. Would 50% male/female pilot population mean that sexism was now eradicated… would 40/60 male female be better? Or worse? If you didn’t think you could aspire to a job as kid because you didn’t see an adequate number of your (insert qualifying identity) kind already in the field blame your parents… not the field. Oh, and my mother and grandmother were pilots!

  4. I doubt that anyone would read the study but … Study concluded that professional female pilots experience gender-related barriers to their careers. Undeterred they have advanced into leadership positions with optimism. Conclusion: Promoting women in aviation is a good thing.

    Feminine leadership in commercial aviation: success stories of women pilots and captains

    Geraldine E. Hynes
    Sam Houston State University
    Marisa Puckett
    Sam Houston State University

    “The findings yield two major implications for educators. First, we should encourage our students and entry-level business professionals to seek developmental opportunities in their communities; these external experiences are likely to help them prepare for leadership in their careers. Second, we should encourage our students to seek out mentors who will guide their careers.”

    Go to:

    http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/11889.pdf

  5. I doubt that anyone would read the study but … Study concluded that professional female pilots experience gender-related barriers to their careers. Undeterred they have advanced into leadership positions with optimism. Conclusion: Promoting women in aviation is a good thing.

    Feminine leadership in commercial aviation: success stories of women pilots and captains

    Geraldine E. Hynes
    Sam Houston State University
    Marisa Puckett
    Sam Houston State University

    “The findings yield two major implications for educators. First, we should encourage our students and entry-level business professionals to seek developmental opportunities in their communities; these external experiences are likely to help them prepare for leadership in their careers. Second, we should encourage our students to seek out mentors who will guide their careers.”

    Go to:

    aabri.com/manuscripts/11889.pdf

  6. if one follows this line of thought, we need special programs to get more men into nursing….women are welcome to apply and get hired by the airlines like men, or any of the other 15 thousand genders coming down the pike…flight decks are for real gender neutral…ny time spent in the training department at an airline on the 767, then later the Airbus, I never saw any difference in the competency levels between men and women…if they apply and pass, its like everyone else…what is the special program, to arouse interest maybe??? dont think women are that stupid…if they decide to do it, then they do…

  7. I care. During World War II, women took jobs left by men drafted into the military. From picking and packing tomatoes to working at aircraft factories and flying them. Women performed equally or better. The aviation industry continues in a decline. There is a need to promote aviation and create a demand for products and services – starting with pilot training. Encourage females and males. The more pilots, the more airframes, engines, propellers and demand for services. Women dominate in certain fields, like nursing, and men dominate in aviation. There is no resistance when men opt for a career in nursing. There should be no resistance for women in aviation. Why the argument?

    • Because the argument that YOU propose is that most women are too meek, too uninformed, and too easily intimidated to peruse a carer in aviation.

      I disagree.
      Jobs are there if they freely chose them.
      So far, they have not chosen them in equal numbers to men.
      THAT is interesting, but it does not lead to a conclusion that there is a problem with men (or women).

    • This topic is boring Raf, it’s been going on for the last 30 years. I’m just plain tired of it. Maybe, just maybe, there’s not a lot of women out there that want to be pilots. I’m not worried about it and don’t really think the women out there need us helping them.
      I don’t see a lot of BFI babes in the sanitation business. I also don’t see a lot of concern about it either. Same with the construction trades. The opportunities abound and there are a lot of good females in the trades. However, they’re not even close to equaling the gender distribution of the general population and more than likely never will. It is what it is Raf. Get over it. This topic is boring.

  8. Get over it? This topic is boring? You really don’t give a damn? … women possess equal if not superior skills of malevolent intent toward coworkers.? Whoa! I’m almost to the point where I do not respect your opinion.
    I stand firm on mine. Promote careers in aviation. Devoting enrollment programs for women and men are essential to the survival and growth of the aeronautical trade. If asked to promote women in aviation, I’ll gladly assist. I remain not offended, defensive and or bored with the topic. I support Promotional Programs for Women in Aviation.

    • Women are freely choosing not to make a career in Aviation.
      30+ years of promotional programs have not changed their participation rate.

      If your opinion differs from reality then “standing firm” is hardly something to be be proud of…