Diversity Naysayers Make Labor Crisis Worse


One of the most interesting, frustrating, entertaining and occasionally frightening tasks of the modern-day editor is monitoring the comments on the stories we run. Most outlets have disabled comments because it’s just too much damn work to filter out the mean, hateful and irrelevant missives that inevitably appear no matter what the topic. It must be all Trump’s fault. Or wait, maybe it’s Biden’s.

Fortunately, we have a pretty reasonable bunch of commenters at AVweb who can stick to the topic and make good points. Often they’re profoundly insightful and really give all of us paying attention something to think about.

And I have to give credit to our regular commenters for policing the section until one of us at AVweb can get in there and nuke the offensive, irrelevant and just plain stupid stuff that gets in there. We have a handy little “disapprove” button that instantly vanquishes those comments.

One of the dumbest threads to show up recently was an online conspiracy theory that gathered some steam after the dunking of a P-8 Poseidon in the ocean off Oahu last month. A couple of years ago, the Navy operated a flight in a P-8 with an all-female crew. It’s been a common thing among airlines and military to pay lip service to increasing female and diverse community involvement in aviation by combing their rosters to find fully trained and competent female professionals and put them all together for a flight. I suppose it puts some attention on the deplorable participation rate of women, people of color and especially women of color in aviation. The flight decks and hangars of the nation do not look like most of the rest of America.

Back to the P-8 overrun, which on first glance looks like the natural result of a high and hot approach, long landing and wet runway. Someone, however, came across an archived story about the all-female flight two years earlier and wondered out loud whether an all-female crew was on the Hawaiian P-8. There’s no evidence it was but the Navy doesn’t often release the names of crew members because they have sensitive jobs and it’s not something the public needs to know.

Well you know what happened next. Pretty soon the all-female crew was an indisputable fact and being used as a blunt instrument by those who believe that encouraging diversity is diluting the talent pool and therefore an accident waiting to happen. There’s no point arguing with these folks so I just hit the “disapprove” button to nuke their comments and carry on.

It’s easy for me to pay scant attention to the debate that rages in some of these guys’ heads and find something better to do than argue with them. But there are those less lazy than me who want to actually do something about the racial and gender disconnect in aviation to make the industry stronger and more resilient. They believe that in those underrepresented communities lies the answer to help solve a massive labor shortage.

For decades, several groups have been trying to address gender diversity in particular. Amelia Earhart founded the Ninety-Nines in 1929 and Women in Aviation came along later. Both have awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and busily promote aviation to women through conventions, social media and other communications forms. The participation rate by females in aviation remains stubbornly in the single digits.

In the bad old days, that could be attributed to the toxic culture of male-dominated aviation business. Women who stuck it out through training and fought their way into the flight deck or the maintenance hangar faces continuing harassment not only from male colleagues but from passengers as well. It’s quite a lot different now, I think, but still the participation rate remains ridiculously low.

About 15 years ago, a Canadian ATP, instructor and aviation educator named Mireille Goyer came up with a different idea. She figured the reason girls don’t dream of being pilots or mechanics is that they rarely see adult examples of them. Instead of giving scholarships to women who were already interested in aviation, she founded Women of Aviation Worldwide to bring in girls and women who had never even thought of an aviation career. Every March, the group runs events all over the world where girls and women go flying and meet women succeeding in a variety of aviation jobs. Over the years, thousands of mostly young women and girls have been given first-hand exposure to the career opportunities that are now most certainly open to them.

Former American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has embraced that concept and his new organization Breaking Down Barriers is targeting all underrepresented groups. If people don’t see people who look like them on the flight deck or in the hangar they assume they are not welcome, he reasoned. Parker and his wife Gwen are going directly to those communities and targeting scholarships and incentives at those who show the interest and aptitude. His mission is nothing less than solving the labor crisis in aviation and he’s fine with being aggressive about it.

He should have the contacts and access to sponsors to help but I wonder what his response will be to those who think he’s weakening aviation safety. He didn’t become CEO of the world’s biggest airline by being a shrinking violet but it can be pretty rough out there for those who attract the attention of those who oppose diversity initiatives.

For a taste of what he might be in for, I’d encourage him to have a look at the comments on our story about his initiative. There is some support there and there are those who temper their disapproval by warning against passing over qualified white males to put somehow less qualified minorities and women in their place. But there are others where the flat out bias seethes under the civility of carefully chosen words. I hope he has his own version of  my handy “disapprove” button and isn’t afraid to use it.

And I hope he doesn’t give up, which is the goal of the anti-diversity crowd. The central theme of visible participation in aviation has been borne out in a lot of other fields like medicine and the professions where similar prejudice was common. At some point, in each of those fields, the critical mass reached a point where it couldn’t be stopped by even the most strident nonsensical arguments. I think it’s headed that way for aviation and it will happen sooner if we embrace the efforts to move it along.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Thanks Russ! I couldn’t read all the comments on that Breaking Down Barriers story. Way too many men (and it is mainly men who comment here) thinking the airlines will hire people of color or women if they don’t meet requirements! From reading lots of aviation stories, there are plenty white men who shouldn’t be flying!

  2. Thank you Russ. I was frankly sickened by the the large number of hateful comments on the Breaking Down Barriers story, and appreciate your effort to counter them. Sometimes I wonder if I’m in the minority myself, as a straight white male who does NOT feel threatened by the prospect of women and minorities being provided opportunities to offset the many barriers they continually face in order to advance in aviation and other fields.

  3. The days of unearned white male privilege guaranteeing an advantage over a diversity hire, are drawing to a close. Some people are having a hard time with that…..well too bad because you are not going to get to wind the clock backwards to 1950.

    Personally I think one reason for the historically low participation rate for women in commercial aviation is because the lifestyle generally sucks. They look at it and decide they don’t want to make the kind of life sacrifices that the job demands.

    Interestingly a lot of younger male pilots are coming to the same conclusion. Many of the large airlines are having trouble getting FO’s to upgrade as they don’t want to go back to being crew scheds bitch on junior reserve.

    • It was mostly toxic males hurling themselves off high objects or whatever to pioneer aviation so you cant say its unearned I dont feel. There has been, is and always should be a place for women to fly if they want to and the numbers are needed. The lady who said they dont see role models is spot on. The only bad aspect is when doors are being opened for some and closed for others to satisfy politicians were that a case. It may lead to the loss of good people as easily as others staying hidden in the first place. Maybe its time the aircraft flew themselves as they do in the military and supply freight. Its only public anxiety and the unions stopping that now.

  4. Let’s assume someone gets a flying scholarship only because of their gender and/or race, and this person happens to be a substantially worse pilot than a generic white dude who gets mad about it in an internet comments section.

    While that person may get the scholarship, there’s basically zero chance they’re going to pass the entire litany of required exams and checkrides to go from zero to PPL, to a flying job, then a regional, and then a major airline while relying solely on being a “diversity hire”, so the actual safety risk to airline passengers that people are freaking out about is essentially zero.

    • Excellent point, it’s important to consider the rigorous training and certification process all pilots must undergo, regardless of how they received their scholarship. Thanks Tim.

    • It’s a waste of limited resources and THAT makes the so called “labor crisis” worse. If programs have to individuals based on drive and talent then the funds are well spent.

      • Wouldn’t it always be a waste of resource if the generic white dude washes out? Why is the default thinking that the diverse hires are more likely to washout than white dudes . Everybody can washout for whatever reason. We have to have faith that these programs are doing due diligence before just offering up scholarships to anyone just of their race or gender. Let’s break our assumptions

        • Let’s break YOUR assumptions that women are either too weak or too unaware and thus need “special help”. I do not have such low expectations of people as you seem to hold.

  5. What a waste of time. Like on company boards or in a government : I want the best suitable person at the helm. If that means a 100% female board : fine with me. If that means a 100% male government : fine with me. I am starting to tire of the promotion of woke culture and stunts trying to drive home a false argument : 100% female crews or boards FOR THE SAKE OF IT. That doesn’t do these women (or any women) any favours : a 100% female board because they are the best shows young girls there is no discrimination and they can achieve what they want if they put in the hard work. A 100% female crew FOR THE SAKE OF IT, or a mandate of x % women on a board just seems to indicate that women require stunts or mandates to earn a spot. They most certainly do not. The one mandate I might support is at least 1 woman (and hence also at least 1 man) on every board, on every crew, in every government. Then let’s bury that beaten argument and move on. Would you boast a 100% male crew ? If no, then do not boast a 100% female crew, its equally despicable. I will applaud the worlds first 100% transvestite non-binary pastafari albino flight, but only if they happen to be the best available crew, not if they were served as props for the sake of some political argument.

    • Amen to this comment….100% correct, and by almost everyone I know, the same sentiment. There’s not as much bigotry or hatred out there as the media makes out, and only the loud and obnoxious get the camera/media/social media attention…and lots of it. By all means there should be none of it, but you can’t MAKE someone have a career in aviation. They have to WANT it. May the best (insert whatever gender/non-gender/race/etc…here) get the job!

    • Peter, I couldn’t have stated it better myself. Spot on! In summary I believe you are saying we should be hiring based on, meritocracy? If we are to move past this, let’s stop taking about it. I believe Morgan Freeman said the same thing about racism and bigotry in an interview in 60 minute’s eons ago. I don’t think most anyone has an issue having more women or minorities in the cockpit as long as they are the best qualified. There is opportunity abound for anyone wanting to pursue an aviation career if you want it bad enough. The woke crowd wants to keep making an issue over this to divide us. It’s time this crap gets put behind us. Let’s all move on.

    • Bingo. And with the allowance for any man to now claim he’s a woman, these “diversity” slots will inevitably fill up with white men pretending to be women anyway. That would be my play if I were white man looking for a job today.

  6. Yes, all who disagree are making the problem worse. All of you who agree are spot on.
    How could I just not see it your way?

  7. I personally have no problem with men or women of any ethnicity being hired as a professional pilot as long as they are hired for their capabilities and experience and not because of their minority status. Let the best man or woman win. How about the application being totally non-biased? Assigned the applicant a number, no gender, age, or ethnicity allowed on the application so that the initial selection is totally blind to biases or prejudice. As a retired airline captain, with 22 years of that time being a check airman , FAA designee I have seen both good and bad of all genders, and ethnicities. What really is bothersome is someone hired primarily to fill a quota, and please don’t tell me that hasn’t happened. The first female pilot hired at Braniff International decades ago was not even tall enough to qualify as a flight attendant and even got a waiver from the FAA to use her arms and legs on the yoke of the DC-8 during manual reversion because she was not strong enough to do it otherwise.

  8. My daughter recently earned her PPL and I’ve been shocked by amount of paternalistic bs she’s experienced from men old and young who approach her on the ramp to question her presence or process or assume she needs their assistance. And, no I’m not talking about genuine well-intended offers of obvious assistance like pushing an aircraft into a hangar that I’d offer to anyone.

    I also have no problem with private individuals like Doug Parker using their money and connections to offer encouragement and financial assistance to aspiring pilots from less-advantaged backgrounds than that of my daughter. I have a great deal of problem with the assumption that proportional representation by race and sex (please do not conflate sex and gender) would occur but for the lack of money or role models as there is scant evidence to support such a claim and if aviation is anything, it is data driven.

    There is no evidence that the level of skin melanin or the presence or absence of ovaries or testes makes any difference in pilot quality. There is also no evidence that “structural racism or sexism” are barriers, including the paternalism my daughter experiences. Nothing stops someone from looking up at the sky when a plane flies over and wanting to be in the front seat. What matters most is a passion to be a pilot and the discipline and drive to do the work because those traits do actually matter for pilot quality.

    I trust my daughter as PIC not just because I know she did the work but because I know she met the objective standards for her certificate without regard to her sex. I trust her even more because she has the strength to ignore, laugh off, or, if necessary, tell off the paternalistic a$$holes that get in her way.

    Pilots who lack the passion for flying to actually pursue it or the strength of character to stand up for themselves regardless of race or sex ARE a risk because those who aren’t able to stand up to idiots on the ramp are less likely to have the strength to stand up to a captain who’s making a mistake or reply “unable” to an unsafe ATC command or clearance.

      • Miss this sentence did you, “Nothing stops someone from looking up at the sky when a plane flies over and wanting to be in the front seat.”? Or this one, “Pilots who lack the passion for flying to actually pursue it or the strength of character to stand up for themselves regardless of race or sex ARE a risk because those who aren’t able to stand up to idiots on the ramp are less likely to have the strength to stand up to a captain who’s making a mistake or reply “unable” to an unsafe ATC command or clearance.

        If you think otherwise, please provide a list of the elements of “structural racism” that prevents a Black child from becoming a pilot.

  9. What part of “LESS qualified = MORE likely to eventually seriously phuck up” do you, Russ, and all you formerly genuine conservative suddenly virtue signaling born-again woke uberliberals not understand?
    If minimum training program graduation standards are eventually, tortuously met via additional individual tutoring and endless test retake opportunities NOT offered to all, and then if “minor” performance errors are repeatedly glossed over to meet hiring/retention quotas imposed by HQ on frontline managers, and in so doing smarter, more experienced, higher scoring, more skilled, more stable, more whatever white male applicants are rejected, do you seriously deny that increases the chances of future operational errors and risks public safety?
    Errors in aviation can lead to fatalities.
    LOTS of them from single screw-ups.
    Cockpits and tower cabs are not the places for social experimentation or remedying historic injustice.
    Start by decrying misogynistic religions and discriminatory zoning and substandard educational opportunities. Eventually diversity will fly… without undue loss of life.

  10. My daughter became a commercial pilot because she wanted to tow banners. She had a boss that cultivated her interest and supported her thru her training. She towed banners for a 1000 hours. She can three point a Cub better than I will ever be able to. Banner pilots tend to be a bit on the macho side, but interestingly enough, a couple of the more experienced ones took her under their wings and were excellent mentors. A little help can make all the difference when trying to break into a tough crowd.

  11. America’s first female IA earned it many decades ago, to no fanfare, and needing no scholarships or other special treatment. She was mentored completely by a bunch of old, white, Southern, Christian men in a small town in coastal South Carolina who recognized her skills and passion, not her figure, which was exceptional, too. She eventually flew jets for a major cargo carrier, restored multiple aircraft and built her own airfield. She never sought special praise because she supposedly overcame barriers, because she didn’t. She now leads a large international aviation association and is greatly respected by its members, most of whom are men. Why not ask passengers whom they want in the cockpit – passionate, professional, EXPERIENCED pilots, or hyphenated-pilots pushed to the front of the line. I’m not the only pilot who prefers driving these days over airline travel. Including friends with tens of thousands of hours flying airlines. It has nothing to do with “diversity” but our love of life. How about diversity of views on this topic? Are they not more important than skin color?

  12. Interesting Russ, that you are all for diversity in your understanding of it….but then disapprove of anyone who doesn’t follow your concept of diversity. Like writers, pilots must have interest and aptitude, or you get bad writing; or in the case of pilots, dead people and broken airplanes.

  13. Well said – from a guy in a very well established soaring club with a female president and female CFIs. As to the commentors, I love the comment “never attribute to malice which can be more easily explained by stupidity”.

  14. Thank you, Russ. Your well-reasoned argument in favor of efforts like Mr. and Mrs. Parker’s clearly explained their objectives , one of which is to simply let more women and people of color “see themselves” in aviation careers. But unfortunately, it only made some of the regulars dig in their heels even more. You can lead a horse to water…

  15. I don’t think anyone here has an aversion to the idea of diversity. The disagreements lie in the causes and methods to achieve it. As to causes, I don’t think anyone can argue honestly that everyone in America has equal opportunity. It’s simply not logical to say that someone who grows up in a poverty-stricken, single-parent household starts off with the same opportunities as your average middle-class kid living in suburbia, much less the upper stratus of American society. This is, of course, a different problem than that of gender. Why is the pilot community so overwhelming male? Is that a bad thing? Are there women who are excluded from the flight deck simply because they’re women?

    I have no problem with debating these issues, but I would hope everyone would avoid getting personal. The title of this article comes awfully close. Just because someone disagrees with another’s ideas about how to encourage more women and/or people of color to pursue aviation careers doesn’t mean they are racist misogynists who disagree with the idea of diversity. And vice versa, just because someone believes there is something inherently wrong when a career field is so obviously, overwhelmingly dominated by one race and gender doesn’t mean they are Marxists or anti-white.

    Let’s focus on the arguments, not the arguers.

    • “someone who grows up in a poverty-stricken, single-parent household”

      This perfectly describes my childhood. And yet I achieved through military service, hard work and dedication to my goals. Today I’m more often thought of as the angry old white guy when having discussions regarding hard work and personal responsibility.

      Go figure!

  16. I will first provide some context for my comments. I am a current Airline Captain and Check Airman also authorized to do the FAA Observation for Captain upgrades. I fly approximately half the time with new FOs of all genders, races and more importantly abilities. I also do several Captain upgrade observation rides per month. I currently have my last flying job so the people I train in no way affect my schedule, seniority, or quality of life.

    That said I hope these comments are taken in the spirit they are given. When training pilots in the Airline environment I couldn’t care less about DEI, the gender or the race of my student. What I care about is ability. I honestly don’t see massive differences in ability based on DEI criteria.

    Where I do see massive differences is in the lengths that are taken these days to get someone through training. Gone are the days where struggling in training led to release from the airline. The average amount of time spent on the line doing Initial Operating Experience (IOE) has risen sharply. Many opportunities are given to struggling students to “get it”. Sometimes it is time well spent but in others it only makes the student better at hiding deficiencies in their underlying abilities and decision making.

    Where I do see differences for gender and/or race is in hiring practices at the major airlines. Gone are the days where it required 1000 hrs PIC at a regional or extensive military experience to get that first job at a major airline. I see many new hires with zero PIC in the 121 environment. The majority of these are from the airlines DEI program and they received their job offers with minimum time at a regional airline. As a result experience levels in the cockpit are being lowered and safety issues are arising more frequently than in the past. Are the issues solely the result of DEI, NO!! The lower levels of experience certainly are.

    Think about this because it IS happening. Someone gets hired at a major airline completes training and hits the line with no PIC prior to being hired and needs several months on the line to achieve the required 121 time to upgrade. When I say required to upgrade I don’t mean at the particular airline I mean their total including the time at a regional. Within a couple of months due to seniority biding and willingness to take ANY Captain position they are awarded upgrade to Captain as PIC for flights carrying 300+ passengers. This is in fact happening. Many of these will be long term effective Captains but as the old saying goes, they don’t know what they don’t know and are now on the line learning on their own.

    I applaud the effort to attract people of all backgrounds to aviation. I worry about the short cuts in experience being taken to achieve this goal. While maintaining experience would require more time to achieve the same result it would be the safest course of action. There are no easy answers but experience shortcuts shouldn’t ever be the answer.

    • So are you saying that the majors are skipping the requirements for minorities and women, while keeping them strict for white dudes? Are you intimating that is a white guy struggles he washes out, but a minority gets two or three extra chances to get it? All this to have a good-looking DEI scorecard? Just checking

      • If by skipping requirements you mean experience as usually expected….Yes. Every Airline has their own program for advanced entry to the airline and while none specifically states it only available to certain individuals, in reality that is exactly what happens with the acceptance into these programs. 90% plus would qualify under DEI criteria. It may be an inconvenient truth, but it is in fact the truth.

  17. Thanks Russ!
    An all female flight crew is not diverse.
    Hiring based on race or gender is prejudice.
    Excuse me for living during and still supporting the MLK Jr. dream of individuals rather than labels.

    • Be careful, you’re not marching nose to rump with the virtue signaling crowd. Some weak willed sniffle waffle is gonna cry and demand the disapprove button be pushed. Personally, I think these old decrepit race hustlers became terrified when Michael Jackson showed up and proved MLK right. Now, MLK is just some random black dude who had some dreams. Generation X is the MLK Dream generation!!

  18. Very good article. However, I may be just plain ignorant and blind, but I believe that in today’s modern professional society, the DEI naysayers who form their view on the basis of gender, race, age, disability…etc. are a small minority. In my opinion, the majority of naysayers are fearful of the intended or unintended consequences of the implementation of DEI initiatives for purposes of employment. The easiest and first-hand knowledge example I can give is the hiring practices of the federal government itself. When first introduced, the government’s veterans employment outreach was innocent enough. Very well intended. Similar to your example above, veterans became a ‘targeted’ audience for hard to fill and technically specialized government positions. Then it turned into a program that was used to fill jobs across the board. As the outreach further evolved, it eventually became law and turned it into a ‘veterans preference program’ in which, on the government’s HR hiring point system, a vet now receives 10 points extra as compared to his off the street peers who are competing for the same position. Today this hiring practice has taken such a drastic turn that the different federal agencies are forced to hire veterans over all others regardless of qualifications, experience and aptitude. The DEI initiative could also run afoul of its good intent as an outreach and recruiting tool if not closely monitored.

    • The biggest problem I have with that is we need less people in government that have little or no private sector experience. We need a LOT less who are planning on a career after government.
      OTOH, we need a lot more parts of our economy to stop screening out people with real world experience in favor of degreed individuals with no practical experience whatsoever. I know some oil industry guys who would be quite happy if most all their engineers had worked with their hands for a few years before getting their degrees. I suspect many other industries could benefit also.
      It’s obvious to everyone who ever fixed a machine when there was no one on the design team who has ever fixed or maybe even operated one of the things they build.

  19. If I’m curious to know from folks who, like Russ, think that “(women’s) participation rates are ridiculously low”, what the proper rate is and how do you know? So when we can no longer point to gender bias (marketing, people, policies, tests, etc) in the system where do you think the female percentage of pilots should end up?

    • That’s a fair point- it’s no different in tech where there is a drive to get more women coding. Is there a problem to fix here? Or should we balance out the overly-Indian coding population? Things do take a natural course, and so we should show women and girls that engineering, coding, flying are available to them if they’d like to pursue. And make it a place where it is welcoming and not patronizing

      • Why? When most coding is being outsourced then why would we encourage women specifically into meaningless low wage contract tedium?

      • It’s good intent will only become a problem if and when it starts to become an ‘affirmative action’ type of program for the purposes of employment.

      • Statements like ‘ridiculously low’ not only claim there is a problem but that it is, indeed, a large one. Asserting that our industry has a large problem with hiring women doesn’t exactly add to ‘welcoming and not patronizing’ messaging does it?

    • As Russ notes, there is a critical mass effect in these things, and my impression is that for the women in aviation issue we are well up the slope toward the tipping point. That doubtless sounds ridiculous to many, but there is a huge bias introduced by the normal human tendency to mentally equate satisfactory diversity with some level of numerical equality, meaning the current low percentage of women in aviation means we still have far, far to go.

      Personally, I don’t hold to the popular assumption that the thought processes of all segments of our species are identical. I suspect that while continuing Goyer/Parker type initiatives will help push us over the critical mass hump, there will be a soft landing on the other side that won’t settle at numerical equality.

    • I sensed a hint of a suggestion by the author that, since women make up about half the human population, about half the pilot population should be female, and that the same factoring should apply to racial proportions of pilots.

      • Why? People are free to choose the careers that they want. Women tend to choose people-oriented jobs, and men object-oriented. This trend can be seen in every field. Why not seek equal representation in the trades?

  20. As a tax payer, I just want the most qualified people up in the cockpit. If we can assure that then I don’t care what their complexion or sex is. What I do NOT want is any race or gender being overlooked for a job simply because there are “too many” of that race or gender already in the cockpit.

    • You’re clearly not taking into consideration who a good DEI program attracts the best applicants and is a smart strategy. These days the smart young men and women want to work in an environment where DEI is celebrated so it is a great business decision in terms of attracting and retaining top talent. It may not jibe with your world view, but go out and do the research for yourself.

  21. My concern is that all of the emphasis on hiring women by the airlines or even promoting “women fly” or such things creates an implied bias against young men. Perhaps not in those who are hiring or providing flight training opportunities and scholarships (but perhaps among those too.) Rather, an implied bias in the minds of the young men. They may come to believe that aviation isn’t for them as they no longer see themselves, or people like themselves, in the programs promoting aviation.

    • The very suggestion that a few powerless so-called “diversity naysayers” ARE making a problem worse is ludicrous.

  22. As long as standards are not lowered, anybody who qualifies should have a shot. But as everybody here realized when working on their ratings, acheiving those ratings did not signify attaining excellence. It was just the minimums. It was up to the individuals to utilize those those licenses to learn. Lowering minimums for appearances’ sake would be a huge mistake. And that is exactly what has happened in other fields complying with DEI “scoring” parameters. In commercial aviation, mistakes can be tragic.

    • It would appear to me that when certain individuals can’t/won’t/don’t meet certain minimums then programs are implemented so as to assist those individuals in meeting those minimums. If those programs don’t work then perhaps it is the minimums that are adjusted. Because the previous minimums, for certain individuals, were simply too high.

      The government has decided that certain groups making up X % of society not having the same X % of certain jobs is unacceptable. Even at the expense of someone that is more qualified being over looked. If a few untoward aviation events happen as a result that is apparently the price that must be paid.

  23. I realize you all are mostly talking about the airlines, but I’ve been involved with GA as a pilot, magazine writer, book author, speaker,and editor since 1995. In all that time, I am unaware of ever being discriminated against by anyone involved in aviation who I have spoken to or worked with. I live in Idaho, a conservative state, where, as in most places, the vast majority of pilots are white men. I’ve also flown in Alaska, and in both states, mostly been involved with backcountry aviation, a small, rather rugged subset of GA. Interestingly, many of the most well-known backcountry instructors in the Intermountain region are and have been women: Lori MacNichol and Amy Hoover and Lyn Clark who started the McCall Mountain & Canyon Flying School, Lisa Martin who teaches in taildraggers in North Idaho, Jeanne MacPherson who taught (recently retired) backcountry flying and upset recovery in Montana, and so on. Former airline pilot Andrea Eldredge now flies a Kodiak into tiny bush strips in Idaho, too. And the Idaho Division of Aeronautics has had female pilots transporting our governor and senators in the state King Air and Kodiak. My experience with male pilots I have, and continue to, work with is that they have simply treated me as another pilot–end of story. I have never been harassed in aviation, unlike other fields I’ve worked in. And you know what? When you treat women well, they treat you well back. Our 99s group isn’t a bunch of man-haters; in fact, there are nearly always men participating in our 99s events, as well as the women. Finally, I like being a woman, but I wish the FAA had not changed “Notices to Aimen” to “Notices to Air Missions.” That’s silly. I’m proud to be called an airman–we all have to pass the same exams, regardless of sex.

    • Great comments backed up by real-world experience, Crista! A good professional is a good professional, regardless of race or sex. We should, and mostly do, treat each other as such.
      Just hire the best and help the rest, but never lower standards to meet misguided goals such as DEI.

  24. At a recent EAA Chapter meeting, a local DE said he fails approximately 50% of the people applying for PPL check rides and other DEs are seeing the same. One of participants asked for the primary reasons for failure. He said navigation failures and inability to meet the airman certification standards. He also said that until a few years ago, he would only fail about 20%. If there is a problem here it needs to be investigated and discussed openly. Is there a correlation? Unknown. Flying can be a risky business and as pilots and the flying public, we should demand no compromise on the standards. Doing so puts everyone at risk.

  25. Aviation, of all professions, needs to be a meritocracy. Only the best and brightest should be piloting our commercial and corporate aircraft. Anyone, regardless of race or gender, who can perform to full ATP standards should be considered for the job. Reducing standards FOR ANYONE, IN ANY FORM, FOR ANY REASON, should not be tolerated. Safety has to be the primary driver in pilot selection.

    Retired MD11 Capt

    • The government disagrees. Pilots need to be just good enough to get the job done. If more training is needed to get someone qualified to be just good enough then that is the role of the government. Training.

  26. In addition to DEI, let’s add a P. P for proportionality. DEIP.

    If blacks make up 20% of the population (think I am on the high side) then blacks should have 20% of every available position. More would be better. Captains, first officers, aviation writers, you name it. If some aging white haired while male aviation writers have to be dismissed so as to obtain proportionality, then that is what needs to be done.

  27. I appreciate a well-moderated forum or comments section that weeds our sarcasm, contempt, derision and, of course, personal attacks. All viewpoints welcome, just be civil. Keep up the good work Russ.

  28. I was intending to read through all the comments before posting my own. Instead, I have chosen to share some personal life experience on the topic before finishing going through what others are thinking or have experienced.

    I am a white man from a poor and single parent family who was just finishing up my bachelor’s degree in engineering when federally mandated diversity hiring practices were put into practice. I remember thinking that the diversity issue I was hearing about did not concern me even thought I thought it might be a good idea.

    As I began looking for work, I learned that I belonged to a demographic that was being affected. I remember employers telling me they would like to hire me, but “could not” due to the diversity hiring constraints.

    I now realize those hiring managers were not in favor of being told how they could hire so to combat that they told applicants like me a sad story why they just could not hire “someone like me”. They knew that would enrage me (which it did) to fight their cause at no cost to them. Of course, what they said was not in writing, it was just a discussion. Being in my 20’s I did not see through what they were doing, I only understood I did not get the job.

    Fact of the matter is they probably did not want to hire me as I was young and inexperienced, but they did see it as an opportunity to fight restrictions placed on them without having to lift a finger. Intentional or not, it did breed hate where none existed before. I think many people that had a similar experiences as I did on several occasions never fully processed their feelings but simply moved on.

    It is rare for people to break through and overcome hate if you do not take the time to figure out where it came from. Fortunately for me, it was pretty easy to pinpoint exactly how it was introduced.

  29. Well … one thing is for sure … ya sure ignited he passions of a helluva lot of people with these two articles 🙂 You’re operating in PB ‘territory’ here, Russ.

    MY position is that if equality of aviation opportunities is the issue, then meritocracy HAS to be the only way opportunities are filled. Favoritism based upon any gender, race or similar segregation cannot be tolerated. If there’s a shortage of pilots, then it’s a problem across all subsets of the target potential population. Forcing billets to be filled by this or that subset of the Society is wrong. And — once into aviation — counting the inhabitants based upon these same fallacious constructs and then adjusting hiring patterns is likewise wrong and has no place in awarding opportunities or employment. Aviation isn’t for everyone for many reasons.

  30. ‘Breaking Down Barriers’

    The title, mission and stated directions of effort by Doug Parker and his wife Gwen among many others going directly to those underserved and under represented communities and targeting scholarships and incentives at those who show the interest and aptitude is a commendable thing.

    If one kid can realize his/her dreams in aviation from this outreach it will have been a success. Not unlike the 2.3 million Young Eagles flights given to date, a very small percentage emerge to accept the opportunities offered in aviation. Yet still, we keep flying ’em.

    Living life with a purpose to help others stands alone in the fields of fear, doubt and suspicion. I see on their webpage they of course include all groups, including the First Nation indigenous people of my state.

    Thank you Doug, Russ, Young Eagle pilots and everyone with the heart to care. You can count on my support!

  31. Civil Discourse has become a problem, but looking at common hot button issues like race makes it hard to see what is the real problem because the side that’s stopping progress is so self righteous.
    Look at the Jones Act. It’s been one hundred years of a policy designed to protect the American shipping industry which has been destroyed instead. Maybe, just maybe, people who want to try a different policy are not hateful people who just want to crush what remains of our shipping industry? Not according to its proponents.
    So maybe, just maybe 60 years of civil rights and sexism policy and culture war might also need a look unless what we want is 60 more years of policies which have resulted in so little progress one side still says we must redouble our efforts.
    There are so many parallels in both arguments. The more government side immediately questions the motivations, competence, and intelligence of the less government side. All evidence that supports one side is deemed good, while all else is free market ideology, irrelevant, biased, or made up. This only makes the entire debate poisoned which favors the more government side who, having angered some of their opponents then uses that anger as evidence there must be authoritarian levels of regulation because there are clearly kooks and militants opposed to the benevolent government policies and their backers. Anyone who wants reform of the Jones Act hates America, American Sailors, and American workers. Unironically, there are actual white supremacists who support the Jones Act using all the methods of the most obnoxious race baiting college professors.
    It doesn’t matter what the subject is. If you cannot have a civil discourse where demagoguery gets you sidelined, you cannot have progress. And, there are people who do not desire progress because they are getting something from the existence of the problem no matter how much they claim to be fighting it.

    • A conversation about the Jones Act does not belong in this topic at all. However, my ox has been gored and can’t let it go unanswered.

      The Jones Act requires maritime vessels engaged in coastwise commerce (traveling with cargo or passengers between 2 US ports without visiting a foreign port) must be built in the US, be owned by US owners and crewed by US sailors. If one doesn’t mind having vessels built in a foreign land, owned by foreign entities and crewed by non US sailors, then I suppose one might have a problem with the Jones Act. Consequences would likely be few shipyards, few skilled in the art of shipbuilding and complete dependence on foreign sources for marine transport. (Recent history has shown, relying on foreign computer chip production didn’t work out so well. China would probably love to be driving their vessels up and down the Mississippi. Talk about a hole in the immigration wall.)

      In my experience, US flag crews reflect the diversity of the US population, in politics, religion and skin color. Women remain a minority, but that is changing. The best sailors are able to put all those characteristics aside, and work as a team to fulfill the mission and return to our respective homes with all body parts still intact. Most are aware that without the Jones Act, the quality, safety and security of our jobs would probably be lost.

      Now back to flying….

      • Perhaps I missed the point of the article, but it seemed to me it was about the discourse around improving diversity. I merely pointed out a terribly failed plan to accomplish something that has clearly failed, yet after 100 years of failure, still gets supported like you just did. You made my point.
        Did anyone here actually say they were for less diversity in the cockpit? Did anyone in the Jones Act debates ever say they were against Americans as shipbuilders or sailors?
        It ceases to be a civil and constructive discussion when one side cannot be bothered to take the other side at their word.
        We have less American shipbuilders, ships and sailors than we did before the Jones Act. When someone says they are against the Jones Act, that only tells you they are against the Jones Act. It does not tell you they are against American labor.
        Similarly, people against whatever bad policies might be thought of or enacted to discourage discrimination should not be thought of as racist.
        If you want diversity, stop the ridiculous race card playing. Or, in 50 more years of foolish government bullying, we may have less diversity, and maybe still even too many deaths among young black men who are the victims of elitist’s superiority complexes.

  32. The fundamental problem is that candidate selection for piloting jobs is not a simple, “You must be THIS tall” poster. Yes, the FAA has minimum standards against which an aspiring pilot must be measured, but there are two problems:

    1. They are minimum, not exceptional, standards, and serve only to shrink the candidate pool.

    2. The candidates are evaluated by a human, and he will harbor a lifetime of, um, “preferences” for what will make a successful employee. We all do: I prefer that my physical trainer not be a smoker, even if she can bench-press me.

    As long as hetero white men are the predominant gate-keepers, any other cohort will have have a tougher time of it. If appearance, or other irrelevancies, are not a factor in a candidate’s ability to perform in the job, why aren’t the applications submitted by number? If the new-hire fails to perform to their employer’s documented standards during their probationary period, they go back into the pool.

  33. Understanding the resentment some pilots might feel towards diversity initiatives in aviation requires recognizing a complex interaction of factors without perpetuating harmful stereotypes or promoting unfair viewpoints. Here are some potential reasons:

    Concern about losing dominance: Traditionally, white males have held a dominant position in aviation. Diversity initiatives can be perceived as a challenge to this established status quo, leading to concerns about potential job losses or decreased opportunities.

    Misunderstanding of Goals: Some may misunderstand the true aims of diversity initiatives, fearing they prioritize hiring based on ethnicity or gender rather than merit, leading to unfair competition and resentment.

    Fear of Lowered Standards: A misconception might exist that lowering entrance requirements to increase diversity compromises overall professionalism and safety standards within the industry. This can generate anxiety and skepticism among some experienced pilots.

    Lack of Transparency: Insufficient communication about the goals and processes of diversity initiatives can breed suspicion and distrust, fostering negative perceptions among those unfamiliar with their details.

    Historical Context: Past instances of discrimination against white males in other fields might create a pre-existing sensitivity to any perceived slights or disadvantages stemming from affirmative action or diversity programs.

    Individual Bias: Unfortunately, some individuals may harbor biased or prejudiced views based on personal experiences or cultural influences, leading to baseless negativity.

    In my experience, most pilots promote diversity and recognize its importance, as evident by the open and respectful dialogue now building bridges here between different perspectives. Ultimately, promoting a diverse and inclusive aviation industry benefits everyone. By encouraging awareness, understanding, and collaboration, we can create a welcoming environment for pilots of all backgrounds and ensure a smoother ride for aviation. EAA, AOPA, 99s, WIA, AVweb, and others align with promoting diversity from new-starts to professionals, just like Breaking Down Barriers.

    Joining Dave Miller, you can count on my support!

    • Raf,
      The programs treat people as if they are in boxes and that they are there to re-arrange them “appropriately”. These programs are not there to break down barriers at all; they are there to just make new barriers of their liking. Same as it ever was.

    • “A misconception might exist that lowering entrance requirements to increase diversity compromises overall professionalism and safety standards within the industry.”

      So are you saying that lowering entrance requirements doesn’t compromise safety standards?? High entrance AND training requirements are necessary for a high level of safety.

      Do you know a private pilot you wouldn’t fly with even though they met the minimum standards for a PPL? Sadly and given my job it hurts to say I know several airline pilots that I wouldn’t want my family to fly with because of decision making issues or just plain skill.

      • I apologize. It was a confusing statement. Should have been, “A misconception surrounds DEI initiatives, suggesting that they entail lowering standards. I’d disagree with this notion, as lowering standards would be detrimental to overall professionalism and safety.”

    • “In my experience, most pilots promote diversity and recognize its importance”

      How is it important to collectively making better pilots and improving safety?

      • There is increasing evidence and growing agreement that DEI and human factors are crucial for aviation safety and efficiency. Diverse teams bring in different perspectives and experiences, leading to better decision-making and potentially reducing errors. Understanding human interactions/limitations and designing systems accordingly minimizes the risk of human error. The FAA, ICAO, EASA, and others seem to agree.
        However, this acceptance is not widespread as seen here at AVweb by naysayers. Google it!

        • No, UNITY makes the Aviation world function. You have to follow the POH, procedures, and rules as every one else does.

          Funny that Raf is so prejudiced as to think that women and certain minorities think differently.

          • Raf, not lashing out; pointing out.
            Putting people in boxes based on how you see them is the very definition of prejudice. It should “sting” when you finally realize the irony of quotas.

  34. We will have to go through a period of people being employed because its virtuous and seems a good idea before going back to employing folk with a desire, passion and deep understanding of a job and with higher capabilities possibly too.


      Danielle Beavers Director of Diversity and Inclusion, The Greenlining Institute


      INTRODUCTION Buzzwords like “diversity,” “equity” and “inclusion” receive more attention than ever. From Oscar nominations to the president’s cabinet, major new headlines and social media hashtags make one thing clear: Their absence is bad, and people care. What remains uncertain, however, is 1) these values’ relevance to larger social movements and 2) how to go beyond “moving the needle” to make significant gains. This publication explains the critical role of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the fight for racial justice. It forms the foundation for our forthcoming toolkit, which will provide resources to companies, advocates and others seeking to utilize DEI in advocacy to create jobs for communities of color.

      It’s everuwhere!

      Go to: greenlining.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Racial-Equity-Framework.pdf

      • Lots of people will say anything to justify the continued existence of their paychecks. I consider any “director of diversity” to be a grifter. They produce nothing of value for their company, while wasting vast sums of money and countless hours of their coworkers’ time.

  35. As one who was a non-DEI criteria “outsider” with no family, social or cultural connection to aviation, but had the passion to jump the hoops, I welcome programs that reach out to ANYONE who lacks the connections/economic advantages that are so instrumental to understanding how to get into aviation and thrive.

    I have introduced flight in my plane followed up with connections and opportunity point outs to many who would otherwise not have understood where the aviation “enter” door was…physical attributes were not part of my criteria, only interest, curiosity and/or passion. I have not shared that same opportunity with those who only sought status or a paycheck, also regardless of physical attributes.

  36. DEI is dead. All you have to do is look around corporate America who blindly embraced DEI and see the awakening that is finally occurring. DEI is a cost. It has always been and always will be a cost. It has always been and never will be a benefit to the bottom line. When push comes to shove, no matter how you look at it, or, want to look at it, the bottom line is the only thing that matters. Deny the bottom line and you are guaranteed to go out of business. The law of business physics that is irrefutable. 😁

  37. The staff, et al, is punching out of its weight class on the subject.

    A to Z, including the letters ATP and DEI.

  38. DEI, Affirmative Action, and quotas based on anything other than merit and desire are bad, very bad. Giving an opportunity to any person who only because of historical bias or lack of sufficient economic status is very good. But if that person doesn’t have the ability to operate safely, lowering standards or providing a crutch only degrades the profession and compromises safety.
    As for women, I have no problem with them in professional role. I am fortunate to live in a small aviation community with about 50 homes and 8 licensed female pilots.

  39. From my earliest days as a pilot, starting with my PPL in 1961, I have seen NO women or people of color who were interested in flying discriminated against, or discouraged to enter the club. Today, none of my friends and acquaintances that I have met who weren’t already in the aviation field show any interest in flying, becoming pilots, or even working in the aviation-related fields. I see no benefit to drumming up artificial interest in DEI outcasts – people who are not self-motivated to fly or work in aviation.

  40. I read the story only because of the inflammatory headline in a publication where I wouldn’t have expected it. Russ first complained about mindless people of no consequence as an opportunity to then share his positive take on efforts being made by individuals to promote aviation among under represented groups. I also read all of the comments. I think more of the readers’ reactions were to the headline than to the story. I have a few observations:

    1. As much as we ALL promote aviation to EVERYONE, and I believe especially to girls, young women, and all women in general, the lack of women in aviation is not because there is any bias against them – overt or subconscious. The industry is doing an excellent job of inviting and promoting to women the opportunities available to them in aviation. The statement “The participation rate by females in aviation remains stubbornly in the single digits” makes it clear that women will choose the vocation they prefer, which might not always be the same that men think they should prefer. Also, actively promoting aviation TO women is very different from actively promoting women IN aviation.

    2. DEI, Diversity and every like minded program before it may have begun with pure intent, but was quickly co-opted by the political world. You can speak to me rationally and positively about our real and heartfelt desire to promote aviation to women with the desire to see more women join us, but when we use political terminology we introduce into the conversation all of the political baggage that has been piled onto it by those who thought it a good vehicle to advance their own agendas. The only way to have a positive conversation is to use our own words and avoid the politicized arguments and constructs. I will say that Russ managed to avoid “DEI” specifically, but “Diversity” in today’s public forum is a close second.

    3. As much as one commenter promoted the highly polished HR answers to anticipated negative reactions to DEI saying that there might be “concerns about losing dominance”, “misunderstanding of goals”, “fear of lowered standards”, or “lack of transparency”, I would submit real world conversations that I have been part of regarding the hiring process: “Can you change this criteria from ‘required’ to ‘preferred’? We’re concerned that we won’t get enough xxxxxx applicants and we want this to be a diversity hire”. “Please be careful how you word this in your communications, we cannot be seen as choosing this person because they are xxxxxx.” What Diversity is sold as, and how activist minded practitioners act on it are not necessarily equivalent.

    4. Beginning a conversation that hopes to persuade people to your view of things with a headline that refers to those who might not agree with you as “naysayers” immediately sets the tone of “I’m right, you’re an idiot”. Not a good place to be if you hope to portray yourself as a reliable source of un-jaded information about the industry. Arguably, 50% of your audience is from one side of the political coin or the other, and we all come from the same human race gene pool with similar IQ throughout. Do we really want to drive half the audience away based on the author’s politics? Russ might claim that “naysayers” only referred to the one or two trolls who blamed the Poseidon accident on DEI, but certainly they are not a group large enough to have an effect on the labor crisis. The headline makes clear “either you’re with me on Diversity, or you’re the problem.”

    5. Nothing was said at all about the true causes of the labor crisis. A few people saying dumb things about the Poseidon accident is less than inconsequential. Are we concerned about the labor crisis, or was it just an excuse to harp on diversity?

    6. I think every one of us wants to see two things:
    (1) highly skilled, competent, capable pilots in the cockpit who FAR EXCEED minimum requirements. After all, “just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it safe”.
    (2) Every individual of every different back ground and make up who loves aviation is invited, motivated and welcomed into the industry.

    That being said, any effort to put number two ahead of number one is a disservice to everyone, including the person we thought we were helping.

  41. The entire premise of this article should be questioned. The “anti diversity crowd” is asking a simple question. Why should some people be provided with equal outcomes in the name of diversity over others? Who decides who gets advanced and who gives them the right to decide? Aviation excludes lots of people. Have a medical condition? DUI? Diabetes? Heart condition? How many pilots were fired for not taking an untested vaccine that was excluded by the FAA? No first class medical for you.

  42. Military people were discharged from the service for refusing an order. Not for refusing to take an untested vaccine.

    If a guy won’t obey one order, what other order(s) might he choose on his own to disobey?

    Running up a hill with machine gunners up above might be thought to be more hazardous than taking some untested shot. Which millions apparently took without any adverse consequences.

  43. ‘That being said, any effort to put number two ahead of number one is a disservice to everyone, including the person we thought we were helping.’ and,

    “Why should some people be provided with equal outcomes in the name of diversity over others? ”

    Never intended, intimated, quoted, said, or remotely shown to be the intent of the referenced outreach non-profit programs. None. A false hijacking of self-aggrandizement, not worthy of or remotely associated to these groups. And yet, offering a Dorian Grey painting of fear and insecurity.

    “We are committed to dismantling the obstacles that often hinder access to aviation. BDB (Breaking Down Barriers) serves as a pathway for those who may have never considered aviation as an option for them” is their mission statement basically.

    Do these groups and kids need to be enlightened to the dangers that lurk beyond an informative chat or joyful intro flight that lie in wait in their potential new career choice, even before they choose?’

    Guess what, dear saviors, seers and guardians of all that is good and righteous, whatever we’re afraid of, unless it exists specifically in our minds – we created! Are the foundations and layers of aviation so fragile as to be brought down like a house of cards at the mere introduction of flying to some underprivileged kids?

    Give me a f@%*! break. Leave these groups and their efforts alone. Trying to hold them back with fearful talk because of our inability to accept responsibility of the world of aviation we have created is simply wrong and pathetic.
    Actually, from some of the butt-hurt and angry comments I would think these kids of the newer generations probably will eventually fly past these Chicken Littles and look back and wave bye bye.

    • Let’s try that logic applied another way…a group decides that aviation should only be populated by white male binary heterosexuals and decides to only fund based on that criteria…it certainly doesn’t hurt those excluded.

      Yes there are less than politically correct comments, but my interpretation in agreement with many others is all are welcome and should be given a boost if they have the passion, but lack the economic means or social connections to know the way in, regardless of any entity’s arbitrary binning.

  44. “Diverse teams bring in different perspectives and experiences, leading to better decision-making and potentially reducing errors. Understanding human interactions/limitations and designing systems accordingly minimizes the risk of human error. The FAA, ICAO, EASA, and others seem to agree.”

    RAF–I wouldn’t list the FAA, ICAO, and EASA as sterling examples of flight! (smile)

    I’m reminded of the old saying–“A Camel is a Horse DESIGNED BY COMMITTEE!”

    “Groupthink” is a failure, as often as not. Think Capitalism vs. Communism–in Communism, “everyone is equal”–and nobody is allowed to rise above the average–resulting in the “average” being lowered. Nobody believed that man would ever fly aircraft–until a couple of non-government bicycle builders did it. The “conventional wisdom” was that “man is not capable of flight”–but to study the issue, the government backed Langley. We should be thankful that the Wrights didn’t listen to the “government solution”–we would still be firmly tied to “terra firma!”

    Throughout history, the big breakthroughs–the success stories–the innovations–nearly all have been by those “above average” individuals and organizations that refused to accept mediocrity–choosing instead to develop higher standards and better way to do things. As the old saying goes–“it’s hard to average UP!”

    Most breakthroughs in almost any field of endeavor comes from the private sector–not “groupthink.” I’m thankful that individual initiative and thought is still “allowed” (despite government efforts to “homogenize” life–making sure that “everyone is equal”.

    Using the example of “government-imposed quotas” and “equal outcomes”–why don’t we have a government mandate that decrees “equal participation” in SEWING, for example? Men are far under-represented in that industry!

    No–“Laisseez faire” (“let them do as they please”) has worked wonders for hundreds of years–far better than Royal Decrees or Government Edict. As the old saying goes, “Capitalism is the WORST form of government–EXCEPT FOR ALL OF THE OTHERS!”

  45. Diversity for the sake of diversity is not a solution. If one is looking for the best qualified people to do anything (whatever the skill sets), then diversity should be completely disregarded. If the person is very skillful and happens to be black with purple poka dots, then fine, but the black with purple poka dots is not the qualifier, it’s the person’s skill. Period. The rest of this is simple B.S. and should be disregarded. I don’t want a pilot flying a plane that I am in to be there, because of some diversity goal, I want that pilot in there, because they are highly skilled at being a pilot.

  46. Accusations that supporters of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in aviation compromise efficiency or hiring standards are plain bullsh*t. DEI advocates, like me, do not tolerate substandard skills, knowledge, or risk management. The core of DEI is to promote multiculturalism and ensure equal opportunities and fairness, evaluating individuals based on their abilities and qualifications without compromising excellence.

    • But RAF, “quotas” (what percentage of the workforce is male, female, of color, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.) IS discrimination. Instead of hiring the most qualified, business is tasked with getting the “right” number of workers from each category on the payroll–hiring to fill the quota of “the right kind of people” rather than the very best. In safety-sensitive businesses like transportation, we need the very best–not “whose turn is it to meet a quota?”

      Someone on this thread suggested making applications “blind”–removing identifying information so there is NO CHANCE that someone could claim “discrimination.” I would be all FOR that–it’s far better than a “who should we hire to fill out our quota and avoid possible discrimination charges by the government”.

      Look at the comments this discussion has turned up, people convinced that they are victims of REVERSE DISCRIMINATION. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that the actions of government mostly make things WORSE–not better. This is nothing new–how old is “I’m from the GOVERNMENT, and I’m here to HELP YOU!”

      Let’s LITERALLY “turn a blind eye” on applicants, so that nobody need feel that they were turned down in favor of a “quota” due to REVERSE DISCRIMINATION.

      • Jim, I believe that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) opens the door to higher education, and education, in turn, opens doors to employment opportunities. I believe that these scholarship initiatives represent a promise to a future that is equitable and diverse. I have reservations on Affirmative Action and/or Quota programs.

  47. “If people don’t see people who look like them on the flight deck or in the hangar they assume they are not welcome, he reasoned.”
    This right here is what I don’t understand. Why make that assumption? I can be inspired by anyone who does great things. I don’t care what they look like! Why are we teaching kids to be so focused on skin tone that they can’t see role models in anyone who doesn’t look the same as they do? Did Jackie Robinson need to see a black person in the MLB to become a great baseball player? Did he need a charity to help him? He actually fought and overcame racism.

    I contend that the biggest barrier to entry in aviation is financial. It’s an expensive hobby, and flight training is not cheap, especially to get commercial and CFI certificates. There are approximately 2.8 million black children in poverty in the USA.* There are also 3.5 million white children in poverty. Giving scholarships to only black kids is discriminating against millions of kids who could also use help.
    There are a total of 11.6 million children under the poverty level in the USA. Half of them are boys, and are they not worthy of helping? My sister found two dozen scholarships for flight training she could apply for, and of those I was eligible for two. Where are the barriers keeping women out of aviation?

    “For decades, several groups have been trying to address gender diversity in particular. Amelia Earhart founded the Ninety-Nines in 1929 and Women in Aviation came along later.”
    Almost a hundred years of promoting aviation to women, and yet “The participation rate by females in aviation remains stubbornly in the single digits.”
    If the goal of these organizations is to have equal numbers of men and women flying, then they are abject failures.
    Has anyone considered that maybe most women just don’t want to fly? Maybe we live in a free society that allows people to choose their path in life? Women overwhelmingly choose people-oriented careers, and men choose object-oriented careers. These trends hold true in every field. There are millions of men who happily choose the trades. Most trades pay quite well, and are in very high demand. Yet many women consider those jobs “beneath” them.
    From its beginning, the women’s rights movement has been focused solely on getting women into the most prestigious professions. (Not without reason, as in the early 1900s women were excluded from most professions.) But certainly in the last 50 years, those barriers have been torn down. Still, no one laments a lack of diversity among bricklayers and plumbers!
    Unless someone can point to a specific policy that discriminates between race or sex, any disparity between different groups that remains today is a product of individual choices. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We can have liberty or equity, not both.

  48. Great piece, Russ. You hold a higher view of the average commenter here than I do—I consider AvWeb comments to be predictably neanderthal on issues of climate, pollution, diversity, etc—but your efforts in keeping the peace here are appreciated.

    Nice to see that the feather-ruffling will continue even in PB’s absence. Keep up the good work.

      • Probably not mentioned as an issue because aviation is the SUBJECT of conversation – from which issues of connective importance are discussed, and how various issues affect or are affected by aviation, like pollution, lead, climate or membership diversity.

  49. Affirmative action, according to Wikipedia–

    “Affirmative Action”–also known as “positive discrimination.”

    Those commenting on the policy believe that ANY discrimination is wrong–only asking for the very same treatment of ANYONE.

  50. ‘If meritocracy is the answer, how can meritocracy be achieved?’

    I’ll agree with Jethro and submit that the recent school scandals are good examples of the difficulty it poses. Those who prevail in a competitive meritocracy are indebted in ways the competition obscures. As the meritocracy intensifies, the striving deludes us into thinking that our indebtedness to the given privileges we enjoyed in the beginning stages of the quest are unimportant and consequently recede from view.

    In this way, even a fair meritocracy, one without cheating or bribery or special privileges for the wealthy, induces the mistaken impression that we have made it on our own. We haven’t. Not even close.

    Besides being self-deluding, such thinking is also corrosive to civic sensibilities. For the more we think of ourselves as self-made and self-sufficient, the harder it is to learn gratitude and humility. And without these sentiments, it is hard to understand we should care for the common good.

    Though not commonly understood or acknowledged, unpopular minorities and under-privileged groups need the protection of the educated, intelligent and non-discriminatory.
    I’d say Breaking Down Barriers and the other cited groups fit the bill quite nicely.