Guest Blog: Diversity Doesn’t Mean Underqualified

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Ed. Note: The following was posted by Robin Hadfield, the International President of the Ninety-Nines Inc., the world’s longest standing female pilot advocacy group.

Recently right wing commentator and media personality Candace Owens stirred controversy with uninformed comments regarding diversity hiring (DEI) and the suitability of women for pilot roles. The lack of any facts or research into the topic is evident in her skepticism toward DEI initiatives and the qualifications of female pilots.

Expressing her hesitation to board a plane flown by a female pilot, she suggested that appointments might be driven solely by DEI goals rather than qualifications, citing the United Airlines CEO’s alleged focus on fulfilling quotas. She stated, “I would be terrified if I got onto a plane and saw a woman flying the plane, and I know that we have the United CEO saying that he just wants to fulfill a quota.” She continued, stating how United CEO Scott Kirby is more concerned with the representation of diverse pilots than their qualifications, an issue she believes should “alarm” everyone.

This media personality may not know the stats on women and minorities and their marginalization in aviation. Beyond the accessibility to obtain one’s pilot’s license, white males make up 88.3% of those in the profession. Airlines seeking to dismantle this barrier by consciously hiring diverse candidates does not equate to a lower threshold for their training. Instead, the decision to be more aware of this issue will allow more individuals, regardless of gender or racial background, to be part of the aviation industry at this level.

However, she appears uninformed about the stark statistics related to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the aviation industry. Statistics indicate that, despite the accessibility of obtaining a pilot’s license, women and minorities still represent under 11% worldwide, including countries like India which has the highest participation rate for women at 11-12%. In the U.S. only 4.6% of ATPL holders are women.

Addressing this disparity, the aviation industry’s intentional efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce do not compromise training standards. Rather, the heightened awareness seeks to break down barriers, allowing individuals of all genders and racial backgrounds to participate in the aviation industry, and fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment.

She continues to perpetuate outdated stereotypes that portray women as unsuitable for roles as a pilot in aviation or in engineering. Notably, she seems unaware that all pilots, irrespective of nationality or gender, must pass a stringent check ride. The implication that female pilots are hired solely for diversity reasons dismisses the rigorous qualification processes they undergo, including a minimum of 1500 hours of experience.

Airlines prioritize competence, experience, and expertise, ensuring that every candidate, regardless of gender, meets strict standards. Women in these professions have earned their positions through hard work and dedication, challenging the notion of tokenism.

Perhaps Owens should redirect concerns toward the evolution of automated airplanes, as the industry continues to embrace technological advancements. Contrary to her concerns, women have been integral to the aviation industry for the past 100 years, with record-breaking historic accomplishments and contemporary female leaders in aviation and aerospace. Organizations like The Ninety-Nines and others actively promote inclusivity, encouraging the next generation of women to pursue careers in aviation.

The apparent apprehension about female pilots may stem from a lack of awareness regarding their qualifications and capabilities. A deeper understanding of the selection processes, training, and accomplishments of female pilots would dispel unfounded doubts and showcase their competency.

It is imperative to dispel stereotypes and misinformation surrounding the roles of females as pilots. By acknowledging the accomplishments of women in these fields and promoting a more accurate narrative, we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future. Let’s celebrate the achievements of female pilots, recognizing their qualifications and dedication to their professions.

207 COMMENTS

  1. Robin Hadfield, President of the 99s, is correct. It’s time to appreciate women’s contributions in aviation and dispel skepticism about diversity hiring in aviation. Robin Hadfield’s response to Candace Owens, clarifying that diversity initiatives don’t compromise standards but aim to remove barriers for all individuals in aviation is apt. The call for inclusivity is about equal opportunities, not lowering standards. Candace Owens does not understand pilot qualification requirements.

    • When the goal is to prejudicially hire, then the goal is wrong.
      In fact, such quotas are illegal under the EEOC and Civil Rights Act.

    • Setting quotas to approximate some population makeup is not about removing barriers, it is preferential hiring which is both illegal and which requires reduced standards. The standards are the barriers.

    • The irony is by making these “commitments” to DEI, doesn’t that mean they’re admitting to unlawful practices in the past? How can a company come out and say, “We are now going to make a focused effort to hire from group A, B, & C” without implying they have been discriminating against these same groups.

  2. External Pressures will result in repeat calamities:

    Titanic submersible

    In 2018, David Lochridge, the former director of marine operations for OceanGate, the company that owned the (lost) Titan submersible, raised concerns about the safety of its design. When he refused to greenlight manned tests and raised his concerns, the company fired him.

    The Titanic tour CEO “didn’t hire ‘50-year-old white guys” because they weren’t ‘inspirational’: …

    Atlas Air (“Giant”) 3591

    In command of the jet were two pilots: 60-year-old Captain Ricky Blakely, and 44-year-old First Officer Conrad Jules Aska. One instructor said that he was one of the worst pilots he had ever trained. And after all of this, he was hired anyway — due to inadequate hiring practices, a deliberate act of deception, and an FAA program that wasn’t implemented in time to stop it.

    IS “DIE” an attempt to circumvent, delude, and “game” the system?

    … you tell me …

      • While reasonable minds may disagree, I consider the two examples as being “on-point”.

        Bypassing technical, analytical, and academic prowess – just to suit political proclivities – is the bedrock of a catastrophe.

        So, relevant? You bet your sweet bippy.

    • Hi, Mike! Thanks for your brief comment! Do you also think it’s the case that Black males, Hispanic males and Asian males are less inclined to want to fly, or is that only in the US? I guess it must not be true everywhere, otherwise the airlines in the countries with populations made up of people from those ethnic groups wouldn’t have anyone to fly their airplanes! Maybe being American has something to do with it?

      Have a great day!

      • Jon, all ethic groups (and both sexes) are inclined to “want” to fly !
        However, most chose not to take up the hobby because of all the rules, costs, training, security and liabilities. When confronted with what’s involved just to get to the point of taking 1 friend up for 1 hour, most sane people just buy a boat.

        • Hi, Arthur! Thanks for responding to my post! I guess you’re confirming my wife’s assessment that my interest in aviation is at least partially attributable to a degree of insanity! 😉

          Just kidding, of course. Have a great day!

  3. DEI is not the whole story.

    It’s well known within the flight instructor community that the pilot mills, flight schools and universities both, are cranking out marginally qualified pilots, incestuously trained (generation after generation of CFIs trained at the school where they teach). with limited breadth of experience. DEI won’t address this fundamental industry problem.

    There’s also the issue of CRM. In every industry, any individual who insists upon recognition for non-job related attributes will stress teamwork (CRM in aviation parlance). WOKE-ness, to whatever degree, can contribute to this kind of threat to CRM. And CRM can be threatened if time spent on layovers is hostile by intolerance both by outspoken WOKE and anti-WOKE agenda.

    As an example, at Rockwell-Collins a decade ago, there was a generation of unqualified young managers promoted only because they were female. They knew it, their subordinates knew it, and the truly qualified females were diminished because of this promotion philosophy. And their HR philosophy, if you thought about it, was no more than 70% white males. (Curious that at most companies, the HR departments are almost exclusively female, certainly not “diverse.”)

    As for United, don’t forget that the CEO “entertained” employees with a drag queen performance. Then there’s the recent Harvard president’s story. Over at MIT, the top three organizational positions are held by females and the student body is now predominantly female.

    Like it or not, DEI means a limit on white males. And who, of whatever ethnicity and background, wants to work at an organization where qualifications and hard work are of only secondary importance?

    Lest I sound misogynistic, my DPE for private and commercial was female. I learned aerobatics from a female CFI who is in the CFI Hall of Fame. When I went for ATP, I hired by far the best instrument instructor around, who was female.

    I want the best pilots possible. If DEI improves the quality of the pilot population, I’m in favor. If DEI means lowering the quality of the pilot population, it should not be practiced.

    • Ed, you wrote “And who, of whatever ethnicity and background, wants to work at an organization where qualifications and hard work are of only secondary importance?”

      Why is it suddenly wrong to not place qualifications and hard work below race and gender – because suddently it’s white males who are the ones being discriminated against? What about all the discrimination that women and non-whites have suffered throughout the entire history of aviation? How do you square that with your rhetorical question?

      BTW, I’m a white male, and am thrilled to see every new opportunity created for non-white, non-male humans in every form of human endeavor. We’ve been keeping them out, or at least holding them back, for far too long.

      • Wait. I hope you are not saying that because misdeeds were done by one group in the past, it’s now okay demographically similar people of new generations should be punished for it.

        How is that ever going to end?

        Surely the solution is to fix discrimination by no longer discriminating. Otherwise, the cycle will never end.

      • “Why is it suddenly wrong to not place qualifications and hard work below race and gender”. – Brian Smith
        Wow!! You actually said that out loud. You just gave the definition of racism.

      • “What about all the discrimination that women and non-whites have suffered throughout the entire history of aviation?…..How do you square that with your rhetorical question?”

        How do you square it? You simply multiply the discrimination of course.

      • Brian, I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective. Simultaneously, I recognize that discussions like these may evoke feelings of insecurity in some individuals. It seems as though there is a shift occurring, and some might fear extinction rather than embracing assimilation into a more ethnically balanced aeronautical society.

        • Or, people think this sort of thing is going to ruin the country they love by undermining the very things they think made it great.
          Some people disagree what made this country great, but it has always seemed to me that protecting and respecting the rights of the individual is one of them. I think it’s how we rose above being a motley collection of different groups to start. I think it’s why we are actually one of the LEAST racist countries in world history. It’s how we have assimilated so many different groups, and why racism is not something we should put up with. We should not find it abhorrent because of disgusting theories of collective guilt. It’s wrong because individuals should be treated as individuals!
          It’s funny you speak of assimilation because that’s where I think we failed the same group twice. First by slavery, and then by preventing their assimilation. How many countries have cities as diverse as ours? How many are actually half as diverse and not having more problems than us?

      • All of my flying was in the previous century. From my start in he late 1950s I saw NOBODY turned away or discouraged from being involved in aviation, whether as pilot or as air traffic controller (my specialty, other than flying). I knew many people of color, fewer females, in the business but it was clear to me that everybody who showed an interest was accepted, and encouraged if they showed effort and skill.

  4. This article could not be more wrong. If United’s focus and actions were strictly on brining diversity awareness to the forefront there would be no problem. But, that’s not what they are doing. United is first bringing diversity awareness to the forefront and then immediately following with “we will fix this by hiring specific people using a persons physical attributes as a priority.” By choosing diversity as a priority first, United is actively placing skill, experience etc. as a lessor qualification. United is actively recruiting a specific race and/or gender to fulfill a quota determined in advance by United. Nothing could be more wrong.

    The title of this article is absolutely correct, “Diversity Doesn’t Mean Underqualified,” however, in reality and practice, that is not what is happening at United. It’s not what is happening at pretty much all companies who embrace this approach. You cannot escape the obvious outcome.

    Don’t tell me I’m not seeing what I know I am seeing. I have watched this same practice under all kinds of different titles unfold within my industry (construction) for over fifty years. The results are always the same. Reduced quality and quantity quickly followed by increased costs. It is inevitable. It never changes.

    The only difference between my industry and the aviation industry are the consequences. In my industry the owner, or, taxpayer will always pay more for the end product. Increased financial costs are inevitable and usually, but, not always the only cost. In the aviation industry, lives are the currency most likely to hit the news stands.

    • Everybody loves DEI until they find out what it’s going to cost them. In the end, it’s always about money. You should see their eyes when we show them the increase in monetary costs to include DEI within a proposal. Their minds change in a heart beat.

      The government is a different story. They’re spending your money and they don’t care. It’s always easy to spend someone else’s money. The government is where DEI flourishes. No surprise there.

      • Did it ever occur to you that “the government” represents ALL the people in the country? Not just the white males, but also the non-white, non-males? They pay their taxes, too, so spending some of the money they contribute to the tax base, in order to help ensure they get the same opportunities as everyone else, seems quite appropriate.

    • Ok so someone help me here. If a person (regardless of gender or race) has a valid ATP license and the required multi-engine time, PIC time, and ratings, haven’t they proved their qualifications to fly? They’ve been flight tested multiple times throughout their career by numerous FAA certified examiners or designates, and they passed them, otherwise they couldn’t be applying for a job.

      Is there any other industry that can rely on such empirical evidence of qualification for job their applicants. And don’t give me the old trope that these people were the bottom of the class. I’ve got news for you, 50% of the doctors practicing today graduated in the bottom half of their class.

      • I don’t think so – I’d expect to see more doctors from the bottom half ‘wash out’ and seek other employment.

  5. Re the heading of this article . . . oh yes it does. I flew for years in Southern and East Africa and saw first hand what comes of growing up with goats instead of modern technology. As regards the particular crew in the picture . . . their obesity clearly indicates a severe lack of fundamental judgment/self control.

    • . . their obesity clearly indicates a severe lack of fundamental judgment/self control.

      I’m sorry but this is completely wrong. Study up, friend. Just one point: go into a grocery store on “the other side of town” (if you can find one) and try to find some healthy food. The American food industry created obesity. A conspiracy theorist might speculate they are in cahoots with Big Pharma that is now creating drugs to counter obesity. There are other factors of course but this is a big one.

    • HA! … I’m glad I wasn’t the first to point out the “corpulent” F/O …

      A good life – all else being equal – boils down to good choices. Not being able to “shimmy-through” that DV window during an emergency evac is, well, the net end result of a bad choice made during one’s life.

      There’s soo much inanity these days when it comes to choices; like that Senator who’s proposing illegal immigrants serve in the US military.

      Our Nation is on the road to perdition …

        • Curious that you should mention it: are you suggesting there’s a bit of misrepresentation going on, here? At least, photographically? Isn’t misrepresentation at the crux of this matter? i.e., the idea that “anybody can do this?”

          The photo could have had a lean oriental woman, or a muscular Amazonian, or a Middle Eastern woman with a burka; but they purposefully selected a rather rotund woman that was clearly non-European.

          If you’re in this business, you will know that 121 sim training as well as orientation is conducted in street clothes.

          And the more I respond to your “point”, the more questions arise. Do you think this “well-endowed” F/O (or “model” of a flight deck candidate that led to believe) would have even fit into the cockpit of a ERJ 145, which is a common ascendancy path for US pilots? Would this “pilot” have gotten the first certificates in a Piper or Cessna? Can I hear you say, “weight and balance?”

          c’mon … cut the nonsense …

          • “Curious that you should mention it: are you suggesting there’s a bit of misrepresentation going on, here? At least, photographically? Isn’t misrepresentation at the crux of this matter? i.e., the idea that “anybody can do this?”

            A fairly lean woman is in uniform, a ‘rotund’ woman is not. Your point?

            “The photo could have had a lean oriental woman, or a muscular Amazonian, or a Middle Eastern woman with a burka; but they purposefully selected a rather rotund woman that was clearly non-European.”

            She looked fairly slim to me (the pilot, not the passenger). But I guess we know where your tastes run.

            “If you’re in this business, you will know that 121 sim training as well as orientation is conducted in street clothes.”

            Hence the pilot in full uniform. Was this a sim post?

  6. So International President Robin Hadfield has made the argument that a merit-based system works. It’s true, pilot training and currency are in place in the commercial aviation sector. The readers of her guest blog knew that. Yet merit-based systems of hiring and advancement are not what happens in formalized DEI quota-based systems which emphasize characteristics other than knowledge and skill. The metric applied here can’t be applied across the board.

  7. What are “qualifications”? One ingredient is passion, something hard to measure. As a boy, I hung out at airports, swept hangars, got rides and occasionally flight instruction. Many other boys did this, at early ages, while building models and reading everything about aviation from an even earlier age. I never saw girls doing that, nor do I today. In very rare cases it may happen, but overwhelmingly, girls on average have very low intrinsic interest in aviation. A similar pattern is obvious with respect to automotive interests. Do girls hang out together in garages, building, modifying, experimenting and tuning up cars? Virtually never. Boys do so passionately, spending untold hours building, modifying, with complete immersion in their garage activities. It’s a sub culture in itself. Deep immersion from an early age in aviation gives a depth of knowledge not likely to be found in an arbitrary hire, based on gender. It goes beyond just flying, but also deeper interest in the mechanical and physical factors underpinning flight. The arbitrary insistence of forcing identity groups into specialized employment is foolish. In this case, It is a pretense that is ultimately false, that men and women are interchangeable in all respects. The examples I gave are a reality, revealing underlying differences that modern identity politics ignores, or refuses to acknowledge. The natural interests, passions, and resulting qualifications should be 100% of hiring decision, not artificial DEI quotas. There is no ultimate reason that men and women must have equal presence in various professions. Also, the sexual motives on a mixed flight deck can lead to problems. A male pilot or first officer may be covertly courting the female, allowing some things to pass, whereas he would not for a male. Flight deck “group cohesion” can be disrupted by such mixing. The recent crash of a girl flying a Bonanza during flight instruction was a visible example of that. There is a YouTube video of it. The male instructor was overly deferential to her, leading to very inept management of the aircraft, resulting in a fatal crash. The instructor was ultimately responsible, but the girl was given huge leeway where she shouldn’t have been. Again, political correctness ignores such considerations.

    • The person you described in your first couple sentences is who I want at the controls of a plane I am flying in and in the tower. It’s the passion that leads an individual to professional excellence. Right now our EAA chapter is sponsoring two young people in flight training through the EAA Ray scholarship. They are brother and sister and both are highly passionate about flying in general and a possible commercial career. It’s fun to watch the competition between the two. I would hate to think that either of them would be discriminated against in hiring due to gender or the fact they are the wrong color (white). This passion can’t be duplicated by hiring someone off the street based on gender or race.

    • “In very rare cases it may happen, but overwhelmingly, girls on average have very low intrinsic interest in aviation.”

      Where is the DEI in the logging industry? Construction? Plumbing? Oil Rig work?

    • Hi, John D! What an interesting comment! I’m sure that by now you’ve recognized the logical error you’ve made, in that you think because a male captain might be romantically interested in a female first officer, it is the female that should be excluded from the cockpit! Why shouldn’t a male captain who can’t separate his professional duties from his romantic pursuits be considered the less responsible crew member and himself be exlcuded? Who knows – maybe with an all-male crew he’d just be distracted by a female flight attendant!

      Have a great day!

  8. The basic premise of this editorial–that setting hiring preferences based on attributes other than merit–doesn’t necessarily mean a lower-quality workforce is true; it’s asinine to suggest anyone should be any more afraid just because the person flying a plane is a woman. How do I know this? Because men crash planes ALL THE TIME.

    That, however, is a side issue.

    The primary problem with valuing attributes other than merit to force diversity, equality, or diversity is that the practice seeks to correct a PERCEIVED wrong–the exclusion of women and minorities from the flight deck–by perpetrating an ACTUAL one.

    The answer to racism and/or sexism cannot be racism and/or sexism.

    • The last line of this comment is the only one in this discussion that SHOULD be unarguable.

      “The answer to racism and/or sexism cannot be racism and/or sexism.”

      And there is NO SUCH THING as “Reverse Racism”. Racism is racism, no matter what ethnicity the racist is.

  9. While it is good intentioned that DEI needs to be considered, the problem is when it becomes the “First” requirement in the hiring process. If number 1 is Diversity then many very qualified applicants won’t be considered in the additional steps because they didn’t advance beyond the first step. Our latest Supreme Court Justice is a great example of that process (not saying she is not qualified), remember Biden said he was going to put a black woman on the bench as the first requirement? The message was well qualified and possibly better qualified lower court Judges never were considered…

    • If one could be sure that DEI criteria were only used as “tie-breakers”, it might ALMOST be justifiable.

      But anyone who’s worked in the industry as long as I have (over 40 years now) with open eyes absolutely HAS to know that isn’t the way it works.

      As a UAL new-hire in 1978, I was told by an instructor after a particularly disastrous sim session for one copilot, “By the way, don’t think YOU will ever get away with a performance like that. We’ve all been told that this individual WILL pass his checkride, and no one is willing to stand up at the expense of their job and say that “the emperor has no clothes.”

      I saw this on multiple occasions throughout my nearly 40 year UAL career. And I KNOW it also happens at other carriers.

      Discrimination happens. It used to happen far more often. But discriminating against someone else now doesn’t fix the problem. It only perpetuates it, and at the expense of lives.

  10. Right wing huh. That’s what people like the 99s person always resort to when they don’t agree with someone or the truth hits t o close to home – name calling.

  11. I do not follow Candace Owens and thus I don’t know what she did or didn’t say. However, it is irrefutably clear that DEI is a disaster. It must therefore be called out for what it is: ideologically motivated discrimination. Let us consider one recent example: Claudine Gay, the former head of Harvard, was a DEI hire in more ways than one, as this was the subject of her “research”. I put that in quotes as it turns out her work was mostly plagiarised. Plagiarism is the greatest academic crime, yet she is still a faculty member, pulling a $900k salary. Anyone other than a “diversity hire” would have been sacked. What kind of signal is this to the students of the World’s greatest academic institution? This is where DEI leads.

    Turning to aviation. Hadfield states “white males make up 88.3% of those in the profession”. But let’s ask the question Hadfield doesn’t bother to ask. Why is that? Ideologues like Hadfield infer this must be because of discrimination; however, where is the evidence? It is already illegal for Airlines to discriminate between equally-skilled persons of any race or gender. Aviation attracts more males than females because of well-known personality trait differences between the sexes. Men are more attracted to things, whereas women are more attracted to people. Further, women have a role in society that men can never have: they create life. Most women choose to bring-up children – and we wouldn’t be here if they didn’t! This is biological fact, ignored only by ideologically-captured people who believe there is no difference between men and women.

    There is evidence that women are better equipped physiologically to tolerate high G, making them good candidates to pilot military fast jets. Military pilot careers are short, as it is a young person’s game. Consequently, we might find in the future that more than 50% of fast-jet pilots are female. Who will be outraged then?

    The woke arrived at DEI by the conflation of equality and equity. These are different things entirely. Equality (in job hiring) is the giving of equal opportunity to qualified persons regardless of gender or race. We already have equality of opportunity, mandated by law across the Western World. Equity, on the other hand, is “equality of outcome”. 51% of the populace are female; however, 51% of pilots are not female – something must be done!

    The RAF in the UK sought to hire only black candidates, thanks to DEI. This then excluded from recruitment, 95% of the male population in the UK. There can be no excuse for racism and discrimination, but this is exactly what DEI is.

  12. How about getting Candace Owen’s counter argument published on this blog?
    Then and only then will we get both sides of the story. Well, how about it editorial staff?

    • Spot on. Hope the new Avweb gets off the “woke” agenda and back to reporting on the non-political aspects of aviation.

  13. The answer isn’t to institute systemic racism and sexism. If you want women and minorities to take up aviation, go to the high schools and promote it to all kids. You’ll get some of each. With even a cheap VFR ticket costing over 10 grand these days, the price of entry into the arena is steep. Airlines offering scholarships and mentoring would go a long way to get those right-seats filled.

    • It would be much cheaper if the airlines and so many others had not done so much to destroy general aviation.

  14. Women pilots make of 6% of the total pilots in the United States yet they cause only 2% of the accidents. These 2% are almost never fatal. Historically all of the major air carrier accidents in this country have been at the hand of male pilots.

    My mother was a charter member of the Michigan 99’s (1940’s). My brother and I grew up around female pilots. My first flight instructor was female when I was 14. We grew up hearing the sneers (regarding the lady pilots) from the mentally deficient. It was sad then and it is sad today.

  15. Would you call the Tuskegee Airmen a DEI initiative? Of course – there couldn’t be a more clear example. And yet – surprise, surprise! – look at the results. Those men couldn’t have been better pilots, nor more effective at their jobs. And yet, without that DEI move, we might still think that Black men can’t fly airplanes, or be military aviators.

    Face it, guys – many of you are simply of the opinion that the White American Male is a better, more capable human than any other group, and it kills you to see proof that you’re wrong.

    • The motivation of the Tuskegee Airmen – the airmen, not the program – was to fight in the war against tyranny. Don’t leave that out.

      • That is simply not true. The war outcome was already determined before they arrived in Europe. It made virtually no difference. By 1943, Germany was losing heavily on all fronts, refusing to surrender because of a mad dictator and his followers. Stalingrad 1942-43, followed by steady German losses, RAF night bombing German cities, defeat of U-boats, were already decisive.

    • No, I would not call the Tuskegee Airmen a DEI initiative. There’s a fundamental difference in having a program which takes a resource being underutilized because of big government intransigence and turns that resource into something amazing and invaluable through meritocracy, and having programs that enable big government to destroy meritocracy in order to create an illusion of value and waste more resources.

      Frankly, you won’t get good results in anything if the basis of the plan includes a pseudo marxist goal of equity. The romantic perspective has always been flawed.

  16. I have known some superb women pilots who deserve and receive my highest regard. They are no compromise fighters. I have also seen DEI at work first hand and very unqualified female hacks who have most likely embellished their logbooks and used charm to worm their way into a position they were grossly unqualified for. In recent times one particularly unqualified subject is now sitting in the right seat of a 787 for United. She was good at hitting the books but when in a Captain position the BS that was her logbook and her inexperience became very obvious. I will do my best to avoid United for self preservation and protection of my family.

  17. DEI actually stands for Discrimination, Exclusion and Ignorance. What its supporters want are “equal outcomes”, which is illusionary and inhumane and just another form of Marxism. As the books correctly states, “Men are from Mars, Women (the gender that lacks a Y chromosome) are from Venus” – they are wired differently (by God) and thus pursue different careers by nature. Women are exclusively mothers, and make up nearly all nurses, K-5 teachers, HR and accounting positions, and the majority of employees in government at all levels, yet you will not hear men whining that they are “underrepresented” in these fields that women handle admirably. As far as the myth of barriers to the Y chromosome pilots go, I suggest people study the career of the late Peggy Kirk Bell, a founding member of the LPGA, owner of two world-renowned golf courses near Pinehurst, proud wife, mother and grandmother, and the first professional golfer – male or female – to travel to tournaments in the pilot’s seat of her own airplanes. She started, just as her friend Arnold Palmer would later, with a Cessna 170 taildragger. She was instrumental in the development of the Knollwood airport near her golf courses, known today as Southern Pines / Moore County, KSOP. Let’s just stop with the discrimination and focus on good pilots, not hyphenated pilots. I am not the only one with a growing list of no-fly airlines, will fly myself or drive before riding in a plane flown by DEI pilots.

    • DEI will most certainly drag the United States into the realm of the 3rd world as is obvious when you suppress the highest achievers in favor of the mediocre. When the message to a certain group weather a race or gender is that they need special treatment what is that message, “you’re not as smart or as good”? DEI is certainly a raciest or sexist policy and its disgusting message needs to be shown for what it is and it is foul and disgusting. The worst luck today is to be born a white male, you will be hated and held back and blamed for some BS that happened 150 years ago. There is no such thing as “reverse racism” racism is racism regardless of who is on which end.

      I’m afraid we will soon see the results of DEI in aviation and kiss goodbye the amazing safety record of the air carriers of the last couple of decades.

  18. Hey, everyone! There sure is a lot of discussion on this topic, as I expected there would be! Folks do really seem worked up about being white and male (or not white and male, I guess)! I wonder if anyone here who’s declaring that DEI is a ‘disaster’ or something like that could provide statistics to that effect? I don’t think that anecdotes suffice to back up this claim; after all, my daughter’s room is a ‘disaster’, but that doesn’t mean all teen girls’ rooms are as messy as hers!

    I think it would also be interesting to hear about how the white males working in aviation came about their interest in aviation? Was it by being taken on a flight by a white male uncle or family friend, or having a white male pilot come talk at their white majority elementary school? Maybe they just liked hanging out at the airport and talking to all of the white male pilots there!

    It might also be interesting to hear how these white males received their flight training? Maybe they got a job from the white male running the FBO to pay for flying lessons, or their white parents were wealthy enough to help them along. Maybe they got their training in the military, where they were lucky enough (until the 1970s, at least) to be born with the right gender to allow them to participate in military aviation!

    It can be scary to try to fit in somewhere where the people don’t look like you, don’t speak the same way you do, and don’t have a similar background. We often make our first connections for professional life through our social engagements, but if those social connections aren’t available for us, or are at times hostile towards us, it becomes much more challenging to embark on the profession of our choosing.

    I hope everyone has a great day!

    • You obviously don’t watch the news. DEI is a bonafide disaster. Just ask Disney, or, BlackRock. There’s a whole slew of companies that are publicly and privately dropping their DEI programs. DEI is a money pit with absolutely no value, or, return on investment. That’s why all of the largest corporations that initially waved the DEI flag are now quietly walking away from it. DEI is a loser in every respect.

      • Hi tom my! Thanks for your response to my comment! I’d note that neither of the companies you mention are aviation companies, but in any case, both still offer statements of support for their own DEI policies on their websites! It seems to me that any trouble they’ve received for their DEI positions has come from the governments of TX and FL that are hostile to DEI initiatives. I sometimes wish government would just let private enterprise run the way that it feels is best for its own purposes, don’t you?

        But I digress – as I said, those two companies aren’t aviation-related. Do you have any data that you could share that backs up your claim, especially as it relates to aviation (which is, after all, the focus of this website!)?

        Have a great day!

        • If only you had tried to actually make your point, which has a valid basis, in a constructive manner.

          Instead, it seems you let emotion, or tribalism, or something else cause you to be flippant and annoying and insulting.

          I hope you can see to changing your ways and becoming part of the solution.

          • Hi, Old Eric! Thanks for responding to my post! Gosh – I’m sorry that my post came across as annoying or insulting! I certainly didn’t mean to have it be so! My hope was that the people engaging in this conversation would take a moment to reflect on whether the under-representation of women and people from minority backgrounds in aviation professions was truly a question of desire or ability, as many posters here are either implying or stating outright, or whether there might be social reasons why such a person might not feel less comfortable entering into an aviation career than a white male might. I hope you can agree that the history of our nation has included significant marginalization of people according to gender and race, and the scars of that history remain even today, even if we ourselves do not intend to act as our forebears did. That condition exists throughout society, not only in aviation! Efforts to present a more welcoming environment for women and people from minority backgrounds can help to encourage those people to move past their fears or sense of discomfort and realize that rewarding careers exist for them within aviation!

            I hope you have a great day.

          • I’m sorry that my comments make you feel hurt or insulted, old Eric. It would help me if you could tell me what I have written that has made you feel that way. I’m glad, though, that you’re staying engaged in the conversation.

            Hope to hear from you soon!

        • Well, that IS a relief, old Eric! (I assume you meant to type ‘not’ and not ‘want’ in your response.) Funny and clever weren’t my objectives, but rather gentle provocation to thought about why the concentration of white males in aviation professions might be higher than in society at large!

          But again, I AM sorry that my words have made you feel hurt or insulted, and now also that I’ve left you feeling unamused. I hope you can have a great day nonetheless!

      • Hi, KckC! Thanks for your response, though I truly do hope I don’t come across as prejudiced! Do you have a story of how you came to be interested in aviation that you’d like to share that would inform and enlighten me and the others in this forum?

        Looking forward to hearing it!

          • Fair enough, KckC! I came to my interest in aviation through my white male father who, though not a pilot himself, loved aviation and subscribed to magazines like Flying and Plane & Pilot which were, at the time, almost exclusively filled with content written by white males with fascinating photos of airplanes piloted by white males. I did enjoy those magazines greatly, and in college would spend a lot of my free time going over old bound volume of those magazines in the library. One of the ads that stuck out to me that I still remember was from an aviation insurance company warning pilots against choosing an insurance carrier just because they had an attractive woman as their spokesperson – their tagline was ‘a pretty girl is like a malady’! Clever, isn’t it?

            In any case, when I went for primary flight instruction, I took instruction from two Hispanic gentlemen, both of whom were immigrants to the US from Central America where they learned to fly, though I did encounter my fair share of females as well – though only behind the rental check-out counter. I think that I didn’t have a chance to have a female instructor until about 2007 or so, when a young woman gave me instrument training before going on to an airline career.

            Until I stopped flying a couple of years ago due to the pressures of age, time and money, I was part of a large flying club whose membership was, I’d guess, about 98 percent white males (though they did have one female member/instructor for a while). All of the club leadership were white males.

            Perhaps I’m a victim of my own self-selection, and I can’t begin to understand how someone from a different social background would have reacted to my flying-related social opportunities. All I can offer is my own experiences, and I hope you can do the same.

            Have a great day!

          • AvWeb did not provide a “reply” button to your entry so I added my reply to the previous entry to which you replied.

            My interest in aviation came from building model airplanes, like so many others. I had developed an intense interest in WWI aircraft and I found out an air museum operated by EAA – I had no idea air museums nor organizations like EAA existed – was located fairly close and they had a homebuilt replica Fokker DR1 in their collection. I pestered my mom to take me there to get a look at it. (If color is important, my mother was 3/4 white, 1/4 Native American. That makes me 1/8 NA. Just to fill in the demographic blank.) I was a little disheartened to discover the DR1 was absolutely huge, yet it was “just” an 85% replica. The thought of building something like that seemed unlikely. But then, over a ways, I saw a tiny airplane called “Loving’s Love”. Today it’s hanging on the wall in the Airventure Museum but back then, in the original museum, it was on its gear, on the floor. As a 10 year old kid, I could look into the cockpit, I could pace off the length and span with just a few steps, and it dawned on me that yes, a person actually could build a real, piloted airplane at home. The small size made it much more feasable to me at age 10 LOL. That started my interest in “real” human-scale aviation. This was 60 years ago. I learned all I could about Neal Loving, the designer. He lost both legs below the knee as a result of injuries suffered in a glider crash. But he did not give up, got himself an aero engineering degree, and designed Loving’s Love as a Goodyear racer. That’s the class that has become known as IF1.

            The story and the airplane lit a fire under me and I followed up on it as best I could. I’ve been involved in aviation at some level ever since then, as an engineer and designer as a vocation, and as a kid helping adults with their projects and then as a homebuilder myself. I have flown with women, I have worked with women, I have seen women homebuilders turn out spectacular examples of self-crafted airplanes. I’ve been fortunate to help out on some of their projects now and then.

            Once I found our where the EAA Museum was located and I could ride my bike over there, I spent as much time as I could absorbing as much as I could. My mom had been paying attention to my interest and made a huge career change, from being a receptionist to taking on a PR and administrative position with an aviation related company. Years later, she met Neal Loving at some awards function in Washington DC and told me “He is just the nicest man!”

            My father does not appear in my story because he skipped before I was a year old. I was raised by my mother, and my half-NA grandfather was the male presence in my early life. I knew women are plenty capable of whatever they set their minds and hearts to. And I saw plenty of instances where men promoted and encouraged women to follow their path in aviation. I saw and heard Scott Crossfield stand up to a blowhard making insinuations about the virtue of Pancho Barnes. Scott was having none of it and made sure this clown understood Scott had been there, and throwing around baseless rumor was more than foolish. Just one example.

            My Carribean GF makes the point that, having raised two children as a single mom, there are now multiple generations of boys raised by single moms who know without question that the idea of women being somehow weaker or less capable is a total myth. These boys have grown into young men and they carry this knowledge forward. I know first-hand she is correct.

            Oh yeah, I have to add – Neal Loving went on to work on the Apollo program. And he was black.

          • That’s a great story, KckC! I hope that children from whatever background, race or gender can be exposed to as many examples of people with whom they can personally identify to show that accomplished pilots aren’t just white males, but can come from any background! I hope you’ll share that story (one that I can’t share myself) with as many young people as you can to help them understand that opportunities aren’t limited by the color of your skin, your gender, or your social background!

          • I have shared it often and I encourage young people of all backgrounds through Young Eagles flights. No door is closed.

  19. I am a recently retired Check Airman from a major US airline, and I will start out by saying that there were some extremely talented women pilots flying as pilot in command and second in command of airliners for our company. That being said, there were also less talented, and what I would term minimally qualified, women pilots flying for our airline. Women were given more chances, and more retraining in the probationary period than male counterparts. A white-male pilot can easily be terminated because the company knows the chances of a lawsuit are minimal with white-males because they can’t play the “gender or race card”. I know of one case where a female pilot was granted another year of probation, something I never saw given to a male pilot. After a 3-day IOE with a minority female I told the head of training that it wasn’t safe for her to be out on IOE because if anything had happened to me, everyone on that plane would have died. The head of training was skeptical of my comment but after a simulator evaluation that female was placed back in the beginning of the simulator phase of training. I guarantee a white-male new hire pilot would have been terminated in this same scenario. From my experience Diversity, at least for my company, had a higher priority than qualifications. But then I only have 30 years of first hand experience to form this opinion.

  20. Perhaps the reason females only represent 11% of the pilot workforce is that females only represent 11% of the available candidate pool. I have no issue with female pilots and I’m quite sure most in aviation don’t either. They don’t appear to represent any specific safety issues although we would never see those numbers if they did. If we truly want equality, those facts should be out in the open for all to see and judge. The one thing that would produce these issues are mandates which require employers to dig deeper into the talent pool, not to find the most qualified, but to meet diversity goals.

    Not all pilots make it to the big time and many wash out in the process. Just having a rating does not guarantee a flightdeck position for anybody. Nor should it. Male or Female. The question is? Will DEI dilute the pool of “good” pilots.

    Perhaps the author can dig deep and produce some actual numbers as to how each gender has performed over time. Certainly 11% is an adequate work sample to work with. Let the numbers fall where they may. Who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised.

    • Makes me wonder if anyone has ever done a reasonable study into why young women are not more interested in becoming pilots. I did not pursue an airline career because it just didn’t seem like something I would want to do for my whole working life, and the idea of working up through a union system to get to the higher wage positions is just anathema to people with my personality type.
      I can imagine that we’d lose half the women just based on time away from home because they want to raise kids. But, most people would take a cut in pay for less travel and more family friendly work schedules. So, fix the schedule, and you’d immediately see women making less than men like in other fields.
      This stuff is complicated.

  21. Ensuring equal opportunity is a great goal – and something we should all support. But that is entirely different than seeking to guarantee outcome – which can mean choosing a person based on “attributes” not related to performance. Using those attributes as a tie breaker for equally qualified candidates is fine with me – but not as the primary decision criteria. Not sure you agree with me? Ask yourself if you’d be comfortable putting your spouse and kids on a plane whose flight crew was selected by a hiring team intensely focused on hitting a DEI target so they can brag about it in their ads and press releases.

    • I agree, but after a career in several aspects of aviation including major airlines and GA, I’m never comfortable putting myself or my family on any commercial aircraft. AS so many others, I do. There’s a saying in the airlines that if the pilot knew what went on in the hangars, he/she wouldn’t get on either. I personally knew several airline training managers that would check who was crewing a specific flight and avoid getting on it. And this was twenty years ago prior to any of this DEI stuff. The sad truth is, getting on an aircraft these days is a numbers game. Our safety record is based on the number of accident free (insert criteria). Anybody who beleives there can every be a zero risk of flying is living in a fanatasy.

  22. All the Bleeding Heart Liberal responses here make me ill…. You all should fly with people of color and women exclusively…. I’ll fly with the most qualified… Some of them will be people of color and women, but you non-racist people that think we need equal representation between races are the real racists.

  23. If it is desirable to have a more diverse pilot population, then the industry needs to make aviation more desirable to a more diverse population. Truth be told, I don’t meet that many female pilots, even fewer black pilots. I don’t think it’s because they are less suited to flying. I think it’s because they do not desire to learn to fly. The industry needs to work on that. Not just DEI hires to tick a checkbox.

  24. DEI is just not good policy in my opinion. True, there are many women pilots out there that are excellent pilots including women of all races and cultures. Opportunities across racial lines already existed without DEI. DEI is a political issue that has caused problems across all industries, not just in aviation. I refer to an earlier post here from a retired airline check airman.

  25. Again, we have heard from Robin Hadfield, I would like to hear from Candace Owens.
    Will the editorial staff reach out to her for comment and opinion on this topic as has been afforded Robin Hadfield?

      • He was asking for balanced debate being presented. Is that ok? If not, then you are apparently wanting unfair debate.

    • Ms. Owens is not someone who needs to get invited here. Not because of her views, but because she makes her living on fueling fires rather than putting them out. There’s a place for those folks in political discourse, but it’s not here.
      I say that as a person who is generally on the Right and for smaller government I am also fully of the opinion that the media in general is biased towards big government and the Left and that there needs to be more balance. I also think she’s not the worst sort of people in her field which there are certainly too many of these days.

      • If Avweb isn’t the place for political discourse then someone should notify the editors. Paul Bertorelli had his fair share of stepping in the middle of the political manure pile over the years, and Avweb as a whole is publishing more and more politically-based articles. Sadly they’re following in the footsteps of sports, entertainment, and beverage companies that got political, especially one-sided, that are losing viewership, failing, and hemorrhaging money. How does that adage go, f*** around and find out?

        • Hard to separate just about anything from politics these days, James. We won’t shy away from covering stories that affect aviation just because there’s a political angle.

  26. Years ago, I had a black female passenger during deplaning ask if I were the pilot. I said yes, I was the Captain. She said if she’d known at the beginning of the flight, she’d never have gotten on. I was blown away, and speechless. She could not know I graduated top of my flight class from Navy Flight Training or that I was a Standardization instructor for the Navy later on. All she knew was I was female. I have never understood the level of ignorance it takes to presume someone is unqualified simply because of their sex or race. But, sadly, hers was not the first nor the last such comment directed my way.

  27. From the comments:

    Favorite line: “The worst luck today is to be born a white male.”

    Next favorite line: Women are “the majority of employees in government at all levels…” (Women comprise 43.3 percent of the Federal workforce)

    Next favorite line: “women are exclusively mothers” (Really?)

    Next favorite: “Over at MIT… the student body is now predominantly female.” (newsflash – the proportion of all US college students who are female is 58%, so it ain’t just MIT. BTW, once matriculated, women have higher graduation rates than men, as well. Women are also now 56% of all first year medical students).

    Remarkable.

    • There has never been a male mother. But you probably meant all women are mothers, an absurd statement – a sort of straw man attempt to portray others as having an absurd belief. If 58% of college students are female, it likely is a result of the political correctness bandwagon infesting academia. That is discrimination isn’t it? From what we see in academia nowadays, that is very likely.

      • John D, um, if there has never been a male mother (a true statement), then the correct line would be “mothers are exclusively women” (and not vice versa). My point was about communication, not straw men.

        Regarding women in college (and professional schools, and law schools), almost all students were men. I hope we can all agree that the systematic exclusion of women from higher education was discriminatory. No? At this time, women do better than men in higher eduction. They dropout less often and graduate on-time more often. They are just better at higher education. Should we get to the point that men are profoundly under-represented among college students, I suspect efforts will be made to remediate their weaknesses.

        • “Regarding women in college (and professional schools, and law schools), ** many decades ago ** almost all students were men.

        • But if we accept quotas for one thing, why not another? If we accept that skewed outcomes necessarily mean discrimination, then why an exception for what is according to academics themselves, the most important gateway to future prosperity?
          How can you be absolutist about one thing, and not another?

    • Raises an interesting question. If 58% of college slots going to one sex is okay, what percentage of pilot jobs going to one sex is okay?

  28. What is interesting and shows a lacking of recent history by some of the posters here that everyone’s treating Kirby’s proclamation as something new. United airlines in particular has bent over backwards for decades to let white males hold down the fort at regional air carriers, military positions, etc. while less competent, less qualified minorities, especially females take new hire positions at United. Ask ANY pilot who flew at the regional air carriers in the late 80’s onward and they all not only can validate this but have multiple personal examples from their own history. DEI is as shameful to this country as being racist. The most qualified person who has put in their time and effort to be there should get the job. The fact that corporations in America are picking people because they are black, female, etc. especially in jobs that safety walks hand in hand with ability and experience is at the least alarming and at worst criminality negligent. They are doing this to avoid being dragged into court by DEI activists groups that are looking for a quick payday at the expense of a large corporation.

  29. Anyone have a link to Candace Owen’s actual comments? The Newsweek article cited doesn’t link to it either.

    Government does not equal the People. Millions of mid-wits managing the leviathan armed with “Chevron Deference” means that the is plenty going on without the consent of the governed.

    • See above,

      When the conversation no longer has to include reference to a persons color or race we may finally have evolved.

      Until then, it is my opinion this is just another attempt on the part of certain people to polarize others into camps and create division.

      • Agreed. What does one do when management is doing their best to highlight gender and race in the conversation? Mr. Kirby comes to mind. It seems he is wanting to drag United right back into a time when race was a central focus.

  30. So…If United Airlines wants 50% of their pilots to be women and minorities….and they need 50 pilots from the 100 pilots that have applied…..and following statistics, generally, 10 of the applicants may be women and 10% may be minorities….then ALL, repeat ALL of the women and minorities will be hired. Only the top (best qualified and trained and experienced) white-male pilots will make the cut….Anyone see that even the worst of the women and minorities will be hired? ALL of them? They HAVE to hire them….”Bob, our CEO says we’re to get 50%….so get THEM into training, NOW!”

  31. In addition to my other comments, I would like to see some data on the retention rates for female and minorities. The normal view of a professional pilot is the “glory walk” and high pay that comes with it. Soon after reality sets in of the lousy lifestyle, lack of family life and the long progression of working your way through seniority lists sets in. Not to mention the ever-present threat of failing your next flight review or six-month medical exam and th e pressures that go with it.

    No mention is made that there is a number floating around out there that females, just by the nature of their normal bodily functions place additional burdens on their employers. There is the “family leave” thing that has already placed a burden on employers but with a pilot, taking a year off while having a child isn’t quite as easy as returning to your desk job. So, is the women completely ok with giving up motherhood for a glory walk? At what point is an employer allowed to take pregnant pilot off the line? Does anybody want to be on board an aircraft piloted by a women having her monthly discomforts and the mood swings that come with them? And, assuming the airlines achieved 100% diversity between the sexes, just how many additional pilots must be employed to cover these leaves? The industry is already struggling to find quality pilots. I won’t even get into the issues of mistrust that always seems to come up with a spouse being “on the road” excessively. Hopefully husbands handle that better than the wives of the past.

    If we want to discuss equality, let’s put all the cards on the table rather than the “evil white guy” argument that seems to justify everything these days.

    • I was in dispatch one evening and I overheard a conversation with a female captain who was on the phone with a sick child that she was trying to console and it was quite a long conversation. She then said “Let me speak to the baby sitter”, and then another long conversation ensued with instructions for keeping an eye on the sick child and what to do if she needed medical attention. While I observed this conversation I noticed she hadn’t even looked at the paperwork for the flight. Finally she said “Look, I’m late for my flight, I’ll call you when I get to San Diego”. And with that she grabbed her paperwork and suitcase and rushed out the door. So where do you think this captain’s mind was during this flight? As a husband and father I flew many times with a sick child at home, but (and I’m sure I’ll get some flack for saying this) I could rest assured my wife could handle any of the situations that came up with our children while I was in flight. My mind was 100% on the task at hand.

    • JetJoe – do you think women should be allowed to be surgeons? ATC? Police officers? Secretaries of State? Presidents and Prime Ministers? Or do the “monthly discomforts and the mood swings” of which you seem to be concerned disqualify them from all those jobs, too?

      A bad doctor gets to kill a lot more people over a career than a bad pilot. No more women doctors?

  32. The fact that the person or persons that wrote this article weren’t willing to sign their names to it is very telling. Candace might be very much justified in her concern since there is little doubt things like race and sex seem to be at least as high of a priority as all other characteristics and qualifications of an applicant. Airlines aren’t even hiding the fact that they have implemented institutionalized bigotry in their hiring and promotion processes– they’re even proud of it.

    How about an airline does as many rounds of applicant screening as possible without the screeners having any idea what ethnicity or sex the applicant is. Measure the applicants on their qualifications alone– nothing else (unintentionally paraphrasing MLK). To include sex or ethnicity as a factor in hiring is saying that some groups cannot compete for the positions on their own merit and need extra help. That’s insulting and simply wrong. How did we as a country stray from ending racism and discrimination to institutionalizing to such a degree that corporations like UAL are actually proud of implementing discrimination?

    As far as the pilot mill comments others have made— I have a story. I went to buy a certain model of strutless Cessna a couple of years ago from a person who had been recently hired as an FO on a regional. The person had bought the plane a couple of years earlier to build time it. The person was flying for her new job, so she had a CFI friend and someone who I presume was a student or time builder bring the airplane to my A&P to do a prebuy. We pulled it in the hangar, started un-cowling it and before we even had the upper cowl off, I noticed massive wrinkles down the boot cowl from the firewall back to the door caused by an insanely hard landing/porpoise. This would be at least at $20k job to repair assuming the damage was limited to doors forward.

    What stunned me was that none of the three pilots that that had been flying *and pre-flighting* it noticed it. These were multiple wrinkles as much as a 1/2″ high in the skin. I asked the CFI that flew it there if he knew anything about it, and he didn’t seem to think it was even a problem. I cancelled the deal, they climbed back in and flew away. That’s the level of expertise of the CFI’s and students coming out of pilot mills.

    • Given many ethnic minorities come from less money, and are less likely to have airplane ownership history in their family, do you think not having the money or that expertise in the family could be slowing integration of ATP ranks?

      • I don’t see implementing systemic bigotry as a solution. Seems like it might be a smarter to just remove the barriers via the flight training financing and aviation oriented scholarships (which exist today).

      • Yeah, I think think that’s a better answer to addressing those advantages than demanding quota results and ignoring the causes of outcomes.

    • As we clearly stated in the editor’s note at the top of the article, it was written by Robin Hadfield, president of the Ninety-Nines.

  33. Looks like Avweb is “All In” with the whole DEI thing. Candace Owens May have missed the mark on her recent comments, but in my opinion, 99.9 % of her other comments and positions are Spot On correct. How bout we just select the Best and most qualified candidates, and forget the skin color, ethnicity, and sexual orientation stuff! Let’s stop forcing that square peg in that round hole, just to make some people feel good.

    • That is exactly the problem. There are still people who will look at female or color and think there is more risk hiring them because they are hardly any doing (fill in the blank) job. It’s not prejudice. It’s a pre-conceived notion ingrained in them, by society, by older generations, etc. Until that is overcome, DEI initiatives are needed to make sure we get the best of ALL the population.
      I also agree, that someone should not be given a job that they are not well qualified for. Male or Female of any skin tone.

  34. The pendulum has swung to both extremes. Hopefully, now we can begin to return to MLK’s standard of equal opportunity, not equal outcome. Well intentioned activists that champion DEI and similar ideologies are naive in not realizing that opportunists will exploit their motives to advance their own special interests. Like it or not, the unintended consequence is to generally lower standards to achieve statistical goals and quotas. We are all seeing it across all professions, and our culture is not the better for it.

    I think Owen’s comments were intended to focus on the unavoidable dangers of not hiring the most capable people, especially in professions that are critical to public safety.

    Our company exercises great care to hire based on job qualifications and not bias hiring/advancement decisions based on immutable stereotypes and irrelevant preferences. We also focus on candidate character traits that I believe we have no hope of teaching or training such as humility, work ethic, and ability to work in a way that brings out the best in others.

  35. Surely we must have adequate standards, and surely white men aren’t the only ones who can meet those standards or even have advantage in meeting them. Seriously, this is piloting. If there was some trickery going on where qualified women and minority pilots were getting shown the door by a cabal of white sheet wearing union leaders then surely that could be identified. What we actually are arguing about is what we are almost always arguing about nowadays – TRUST.

    The equality and diversity crowd has unfortunately earned distrust in their long war against entrenched and untrustworthy demographic majorities who are knowingly or unknowingly bigoted or even just complacent. Mostly, they’ve earned that mistrust by name calling and bad judgement. As bad as their targets have been, and let’s admit, there’s been plenty of bad deeds and thus basis for distrusting them, the tactics have not always been the best. So we have bad deeds of various of kinds both intentional and unintentional on both sides.

    This gets compounded when a corporation whose very continued existence is due to unethical and likely illegal financial maneuvering which may have only gotten through regulatory approval due to political connections at the highest level. I find United to be a symbol of most everything bad in modern America.

    Yet, I’m not worried I will not survive getting on their planes. I worry for my schedule, luggage, discomfort, and peace of mind, but not about crashes.

    Let’s all keep some perspective.

    Now, one reason perceived to be a factor in similar situations in the past has been that of inadequate role models. If young people do not see enough people like themselves in a profession, they may not think people like them are suited for that profession. It’s not an irrational concept.

    At the same time, the politics of diversity has become increasingly nasty in recent years such that the people at the center of the controversy are actually now being victimized by both sides. It’s sick.

    Perhaps what we all need to do is be a little more conscious of having empathy for non white male pilots. They likely need a little more welcoming to the club. Then, for the politics, let’s step back, agree on a few basic things, and watch the name calling. Most of it is ineffective anyways.

    Even if you do not care about racial diversity, there are likely things you’d like to see improved that would help make becoming an airline pilot more attractive to any young person. How about promoting solutions to those?

    And even if you see a klansman in the front of every airliner, how about simply watching the rhetoric? Up your game, people. Appealing to guilt and better nature has always worked better than name calling. Always. If your solution isn’t fair to individuals then realize a lot of individuals affected, and even unaffected individualists, will not like the solution. Given that America is unique in all the world as having more individualists than collectivists, either change your solutions or at least be tactful in the debate over them.

    Finally, if you care about the outcome, then be constructive. If you just want to fight and be tribal, then don’t be angry when the other side attacks you for it.

  36. Why aviation and particularly pilots? I know auto mechanics who easily make what I do as a pilot for large airline, plumbers who make more. Why no push for women to be an A&P’s, I know corporate pilots who fly far less than us and get compensated just as well. Where are all the soap box activist demanding that half of these jobs go to women, minorities. How hard will they be beating the drums in the next downturn (and as a career professional aviator, trust me, it’s coming. War, famine, disease, banking greed, etc.) and our contracts are slashed, pilots a dime a dozen, furloughs, going overseas and separated from friend and family for months on in then what will they say? That the seniority system is unfair, all the white guys are senior and the seniority system is racially biased? Where does this end? My point is the whole exercise is absurd. It threatens safety and marginalizes the efforts of those who earned their place in the airline with executives like Kirby everybody surmises that on an ability only playing field they would not be there. I personally know three excellent female aviators who never applied to United for this very reason. These DEI groups at their core are nothing more than shameless opportunists, modern day carpetbaggers. They take a good look around, find a high profile job with great compensation (for now) bonus if it’s at a large corporation that has plenty of cash at hand and it’s time to play “appease more or else…”
    Where were they in 2001, 2008, 2020, when lots of us were furloughed, stuck at the bottom, flying for peanuts, decades at the regionals, flying from city X to city Z in China, or getting shot at in the Middle East.

    • The seniority system doesn’t have to be racist to be part of the problem. I’m amazed how so many people who want meritocracy and standards and safety to be number one so easily miss the contradiction of supporting a seniority system. Of course, to those who paid the price to reach the top of that system, it would seem unfair to end it, but perpetuating it isn’t fair either since there is no other choice is there? Where does an ambitious young pilot in search of the best and most meritocratic pilot job go?

  37. The responders to the parallel poll overwhelmingly DO NOT AGREE with the premise of the title of this article. Neither do I.
    Just over the weekend, I attended a 90th birthday party for a world class multi-engine seaplane cfi (he no longer flies). One of the folks there runs a well known Designated Mechanic Exam (DME) operation. Last year he did just shy of 500 exams. I asked him what percentage of applicants don’t pass … he said, “Over 40%.” He proceeded to give me examples of what they do … including photos of same. These are people who have graduated from aviation schools, have somehow passed the written exams and are then eligible to take the oral and practical exams but promptly fail. The stories he told me frightened me!! The photo that took the proverbial cake was some applicant who was directed to replace a cylinder on an O-200. He proceeded to try to put the cylinder on upside down (sic). When he DME asks him why … he responds, “because that’s how Lycoming engines are.” Mind you, the picture shows the push rod tubes on TOP of the O-200 despite the other 3 cylinders being there and the opposite. In second place was a female with 3 colors of hair who was late because her EV ran out of electrons so she took an Uber the remaining part of her trip. She fails the oral because she can’t solve a simple ohms law calculation and doesn’t know what capacitance is. She never got to the practical. Now finished, she has no money to get back to her EV so the DME has to take her and on the way … buy her lunch. The DME tells me that more than 40% of aspirants are basically not passing and THEN … they complain to the FSDO about it. The FSDO, applying DEI then comes back on the DME. THAT is why he saves photos … to prove their ineptitude.

    If ya’ll think all these people are qualified … that’s your business. I don’t agree. I don’t care how you color or justify DEI, ESG or WOKE … that has no business in aviation. Period! I suspect the above people go over to Spirit Air Systems and that’s why their quality is suffering. Frankly, I think these left leaning ideas will be the downfall of the society. If you’re qualified, you’re qualified. If you ain’t … you ain’t. And opening ‘special’ doors for people based upon ethnicity, gender or other ways is total bravo sierra.

    • I know it shouldn’t be any of our jobs to solve these problems, but look at the situation. Let’s put gender to the side (because part of the problem is always going to be confusing what are two fundamentally different problems).
      I think we can agree that there’s no significant racial bias in the actual qualifications, by which I mean there are not some significant racial advantages to whites to airline piloting as there are to say ability to dunk a basketball in the top .001 percent of Americans. (There were supposedly survival advantages in military aviation for blue eyed pilots who could often spot other aircraft sooner than brown eyed pilots, but I don’t know if that was based on science and it no longer really applies to our civilian pilot pool anyways).
      Yet, the numbers are really slanted on race. Even without agreeing on what mix would be proper, I think we can all agree that it seems a bit off. Right?
      Also, we haven’t been doing enough about it, so it’s become an easy target for some bad people with bad solutions. Politics is ugly, but unavoidable.
      So other than pushing back on the bad ideas, what should we be doing or saying that might bring more people of different backgrounds into the club? We all know people who are not like us that we have respected and admired in our field. How do we get more of them to join?
      Even if you don’t know, is it fair to assume you are open to there being something to be done?

    • But it doesn’t have to, does it? You aren’t against a racially mixed pool of pilots, just the perspectives and tactics of the people trying to push DEI?

        • When you avoid saying you aren’t against actual diversity like having a racially mixed pool of pilots, you just feed the DEI nuts and SJW’s.
          Seriously. Start with denying their lie every time. Otherwise, they do not hear your point.

      • It’s just like the United Aviate ab initio prorgram bragging that they’re gonna train something like 50% of people based upon DEI standards over meritocracy. There are some other places — like the military now allowing pregnant pilots to fly during pregnancy. BRAVO SIERRA!
        I’m glad I’m retired and don’t have to put up with this bunk.

  38. How unsurprising that a bunch of white men would conclude that their dominance in aviation (and many other fields) is explained by meritocracy. They dominate the field because they are naturally more competent and/or better suited to the jobs than women or non-white men.

    If you were a young woman or a non-white male and read the comments to this guest blog, would you think aviation was for you?

    When you’ve been on top as long as white men have been in western society, the loss of privilege undoubtedly looks like discrimination.

      • Hmmmmm….doesn’t feel all that good, does it? Sucks being discriminated against because you’re male and white. Now just imagine, take that feel you have right now that you only maybe have experienced for a very short moment and try to be discriminated against your whole life. Every day feeling like you feel right now, because your skin is different, your sex is different.

        Or maybe you don’t want to try and imagine that, but instead just want to hold onto a perceived power that really was only there by fiat, culture, and numbers. Being white and male is not special, never was, but I doubt you’ll understand that which is sad.

  39. I’ve noticed a considerable number of troglodytes in the gallery offering perspectives that appear to lack substantial knowledge or factual basis.

    • I’ve noticed a considerable number of “enlightened” people in the gallery that think that equal opportunity has to result in equal outcome. That’s funny.

      • Wait, what does that mean…equal opportunity has to result in equal outcome….interesting word salad, but where’s the meat?

        Let’s say there are 1000 pilot positions to fill. Based on one survey:

        Commercial Airline Pilot Gender Ratio
        Male 83.6%
        Female 16.4%

        In a perfect equal opportunity world 83% of those positions may go to men and 16% women, because that is the idea of equal opportunity. I didn’t reference skill as we’re just talking about hiring.

        Would we expect the same ratio of outcome? Hard to say, but just for fun let’s add skill and out of that ratio, more men fail, because lets be honest, not all men are Sully’s and yes, not all women are Sally Ride’s, so that perfect ratio will change….Ahhh…but you still need to fill 1000 slots so if by chance 20% of the woman have more skill and only 60% of the men…well then by god, there goes the equal outcome.

        I have no beef that skill matters. The essence of diversity is that the pool to pick from is made larger even as the same requirements remain. Inclusion means that ego and closed minded pilots are not as welcomed as that does not worm with DRM and equality just asks to see people as people, not objects defined by skin, sex, class, income etc.

        Being enlightened is not a bad thing, it just means one can see more and why is that worse then a closed mind?

    • By troglodytes, I’m sure you mean those assuming that DEI makes sense, in the total absence of substantial knowledge of the industry and it’s glaring problems or factual basis. Right?

  40. Great dialogue here. Lots of individuals with lots of experiences.
    I have been making my living flying airplanes for over 35 years. I become resentful when someone assigns a certain attitude or status to me based upon my appearance or background. Social media actively poisons our culture in this way. It’s also distressing when someone focuses on using their appearance or background to attain an advantage over someone else. But we live in a time when envy is extremely powerful, and political power is often sought by dividing people by class or race. Historical slavery is is used as a tool, and present-day slavery is often ignored.
    If I refuse to take part in acknowledging that I’m racist, I am part of the problem. It’s a losing battle for everyone who buys into it. I used to say I was colorblind, but apparently that’s not possible.
    In the meantime, I am going to do what I can to help my niece move ahead with her aviation career (just passed her CFI checkride) and will not hesitate to give her the same input as I would give any of the pilots I’ve hired over the years. She will not be coddled; her passengers’ lives are just as important as any passengers’ lives. They are all created equal.

    • Thanks for your well stated and reasonable comment. I’m a bit shocked by some of the comments here on AvWeb.
      Our local EAA chapter is located in a largely black and Hispanic area. We have supported student pilots who have gone on to professional careers in aviation. Other airport groups support local kids who have a passion for aviation and are pursuing careers in maintenance or piloting. They just happen to be black or Hispanic.
      They’re just as qualified as anyone and I’m happy to see them succeed and help them in any way I can. The industry needs people who can fly, manage aircraft and perform maintenance. Everyone who loves aviation should do what they can to help others join our ranks.

  41. DEI is just racism updated with a name that sounds good to superficial people.

    If people want to do a particular job, let them do what everybody else does and go through the process. There are no longer any “barriers”. In fact most of us would help a sincere person from one of those groups if we knew them. If you want to be there – go there – don’t wait to be asked. If you believe you’re not welcome there it’s you that’s creating that. Just like anyone else if you don’t feel welcome change that paradigm.

    We shouldn’t have to actively seek people to do any specific job. If they want to they will.

    And while we’re at it….

    How come there’s no DEI efforts in the base level sewer worker world? Or maybe garbage collection – or warehouse work – or even construction? Since I don’t see any efforts to “break down barriers” in any but the highest paying most respectable gigs, I have to question whether the DEI effort is sincerely interested in opening opportunity to all – or merely financially advancing those groups.

    • “How come there’s no DEI efforts in the base level sewer worker world? Or maybe garbage collection – or warehouse work – or even construction?”

      Bill, that’s kinda easy. Because there are no barriers to historically disenfranchised people getting access to low paying, brain-numbing, and dangerous jobs. The purpose of diversity efforts is to reduce barriers to moving up in the world for those who have been systematically kept in crappy jobs and out of good jobs.

      • Here’s the basic problem. We cannot really reduce barriers that are no longer in place, nor in any real way fix what was done in the past. The primary goal must be to stop future injustice.
        If you work at that, you might find more cooperation. Using the same tactics that have failed since LBJ and his lot enacted them will only get the same results. MLK as much as predicted it. The real winners have been a bunch of politicians, academics, and fund raisers. The consolation prize goes to those get feeling better about themselves on the cheap for making others angry.

  42. I’m a white gal, halfway through my Pilot’s License Requirements. It is criterically relevant to flying a huge machine safely, called a plane, that we uphold the necessary criteria, skills, tests, updates and certifications. It isn’t a matter of the political mood within the usa, rather its a matter of responsibility within the industry. Thank you for reading my thoughtful prose.

  43. 140 comments after one day … I think they’ve struck a pilot nerve here … this may be an all time high?

  44. Part 1. Candace Owens haphazardly criticizes diversity hiring and questions female pilots’ suitability, unaware of industry statistics and perpetuating stereotypes. Female pilots earn positions through rigorous qualifications, challenging tokenism concerns. Owens’ apprehensions may stem from a lack of awareness about their capabilities and achievements. Promoting accurate narratives and celebrating female pilots’ accomplishments fosters inclusivity and equity.

    Part 2. The essence of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives lies in the voluntary commitment of organizations to foster equal opportunities and combat systemic inequalities. DEI initiatives encompass three key principles: Diversity, which seeks a workforce representative of various demographic groups; Equity, aiming for fairness in treatment and recognizing varying support needs for equal outcomes; and Inclusion, fostering a culture where all individuals feel valued and diverse perspectives can thrive. DEI initiatives are a strategic choice, emphasizing good business practices in employment and continuous improvement in creating an inclusive and equitable environment.

    On the other hand, to address the Troglodytes, Affirmative Action initiatives have their roots in the 1960s, responding to historical and systemic discrimination, particularly against African Americans. Mandated by government policies and regulations, Affirmative Action involves setting specific targets or quotas to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in employment, education, or other areas. Critics argue that while the intention is to address disparities, Affirmative Action may lead to reverse discrimination and preferential treatment.

    In summary, DEI initiatives embrace a comprehensive set of principles voluntarily adopted by organizations to celebrate diversity and create an inclusive and equitable environment. In contrast, Affirmative Action is a mandated approach, compelled by legal obligations to rectify historical and institutional discrimination through specific numerical goals or quotas. The distinction highlights DEI as a strategic business choice, while Affirmative Action is a legally imposed obligation.

  45. I find it forever disappointing how supposedly intelligent people react with their politics rather than disciplining themselves and utilizing their intellect (assuming it hasn’t atrophied from neglect) when discussing social topics.

    The article clearly paints Candace Owens as an uninformed ideologue. The beginning statement acuses Candace of being uninformed about DEI (author’s opinion – demonstrates bias), and then asserts that Candace made “uninformed comments regarding the suitability of women for pilot roles” which (having read the linked article) is absolutely false; Candace said no such thing. Is no one capable of discussing a political topic based on its merits rather than resorting to demagoguery and lies?

    The author takes offense at Candace Owens complaint about United Airlines supporting DEI policies with a commitment to 50% women and minorities, but rather than debate the issue of DEI being misused to support quota systems, virtue signal, and flaunt discrimination laws, the author chose to misrepresent Candace Owens position as questioning the “suitability of women for pilot roles” even though Candace made no such assertion. Robin Hadfield’s (the author) entire article attempts to paint Candace as an uninformed right wing media personality spouting off, while ignoring the real concerns that Candace raised. It would seem that Robin’s logic is “if you can’t defend your point of view, smear your opponent for something they did not say”.

    While defending against an argument that Candace did not make, Robin quotes the 11% representation of women and minorities among pilots and frames that number as a “barrier”, a “disparity”, an “issue” and “marginalization”. At the same time however, Robin makes clear that “Airlines prioritize competence, experience, and expertise, ensuring that every candidate, regardless of gender, meets strict standards. Women in these professions have earned their positions through hard work and dedication, challenging the notion of tokenism.” She also points out that “women have been integral to the aviation industry for the past 100 years, with record-breaking historic accomplishments and contemporary female leaders in aviation and aerospace.” So where are the discrimination, the chauvinism, and the barriers to entry for women? It seems that according to Robin, people who meet the high standards are accepted, and those who don’t are kept out. Is she making the point that women are kept out because they don’t meet the standards, or is she making the point that women are qualified and they have no barrier to entry? Maybe the 11% statistic is based in other factors?

    Thomas Sowell has often criticized the pseudo-intelectual’s desire to see a statistical disparity and immediately attribute it to some form of discrimination that requires societal redress while purposely ignoring realities that indicate otherwise. There are no barriers to women among pilots. We actively promote aviation to women and young girls, and yet the number of women who choose to become pilots is far less than men. Why would that be? Women as a group and men as a group are free to make their own choices in life. As groups they each have differing priorities and values. If fewer women choose to become pilots, it is not the job of societal “do-gooders” to apply pressure to obligate a 50-50 outcome. Individuals have the right to choose their own course rather than the course that pseudo-intellectuals feel compelled to choose on their behalf.

    Despite Robin’s feelings to the contrary, DEI has been demonstrated on many occasions to promote less qualified individuals because they “check the right boxes” to deny this is willful intellectual dishonesty. Even though (as Robin argues) all pilots pass “a stringent check ride”, we all know pilots (regardless of race or gender) who should not be carrying passengers. To assert that all certificated pilots are equally capable and deserve the trust of the flying public is a fallacy. The very wise adage: “just because it is legal, doesn’t mean it is safe”, applies to pilots themselves just as much as the regs.

    It is a disservice to women pilots, potential women pilots, and the flying public to create and actively advertise a program that promotes pilots based on their particular set of genes. Whether the program creates an environment that promotes inferior pilots because they “check the right boxes” or only appears to, it causes people to question whether this female pilot is “one of the good ones”, or one who “checks the right boxes”, which then brings every female pilot into question. It used to be that you knew without question that every female pilot was excellent, because she had pioneered her way there. Now? I guess it depends on your politics.

  46. Well, “Avweb Editorial Staff,” are you going to solicit a response from Candace Owen’s providing your readers with a balanced presentation, or, are you journalist’s content with sitting on your hands and just hoping everyone forgets about the blatant one sided biased opinion put forth by Robin Hadfield?

  47. Prior to the 1960s, racism and discrimination were deeply entrenched in the United States, including in professions like aviation. Affirmative Action initiatives, emerging in the 1960s and 1970s, aimed to address historical inequalities by promoting equal opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as people of color and women. The goal was not to force submission but to create a more equitable society. In recent years, discussions have expanded to encompass Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which focus on creating inclusive environments and addressing biases beyond race and gender. These efforts continue to evolve in the pursuit of fairness and equal opportunities.

    AVweb, bring in Candace Owen. I’ll get the popcorn!

    • I don’t give a tiny mammal’s posterior what the goal of a policy or program is. In fact, it seems to me the stated goal is often enough a lie to begin with. I care about the results. Why don’t we all?
      The best, most charitable look at the Civil Rights Act was that it was passed because it was over due to fix the problem. Something had to be done. If only the efforts had truly continued to evolve, we might be in a better place. Instead, partisan politics entrenched the sides and the solutions. I don’t blame the politicians for doing it, and I agree they had to do something. I only wish they had done better.
      I believe we can do better. The first step should be throwing the name callers out of the conversation. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option (especially since both major parties now mostly only present those types as candidates).

  48. “AVweb, bring in Candace Owen. I’ll get the popcorn!”
    Your flippant remark is endemic of the narrow mindedness that permeates our society today, especially education. It’s way past time to practice what you preach.

  49. So the editorial staff at AVweb are just like most other ‘journalists’!
    The very first statement, Right wing conservative Candice Owen, sure tells us who you are. So very disappointing to know they now permeate AVweb.

  50. I fear that to fill any type of quota, standards MUST be lowered, and here’s why. If only 11% of pilots today are female, exactly WHY is that? Of course, today’s female pilots are as qualified as males, and I have no fear whatsoever of flying with a female(s) up front. There are some jobs that many (but not all) women simply do not seek out, such as heavy equipment operators, railroad workers, underwater welding, plumbing, oil field workers, electricians, many engineering jobs, etc. Some women could do any of these jobs, but choose not to do so for a variety of reasons. The airlines are already competing for potentially qualified women amongst engineering schools, law schools, medical school, and it is unclear to me what new recruitment packages the airlines could pursue to get qualified applicants. If the airlines could do something, why aren’t they doing it NOW?

    • I understand your concern about maintaining high-quality standards. When striving for an inclusive and fair environment, the focus should be on removing obstacles and providing equal chances to all qualified individuals.

      Personally, the GI Bill gave me the financial opportunity to become a pilot in 1966. After retiring from a traditional job, it led to a fulfilling 25-year career as a full-time flight instructor, always fueled by gratitude and a passion to inspire newcomers to aviation. My wife shares a similar passion; she retired as an Air Traffic Controller and is also a pilot. We’ve actively contributed to diverse and inclusive youth programs, where about 12-15% of participants were females, potentially reflecting the current gender balance in pilot ranks, at least for now.

      Although aviation has historically been male-oriented, it’s crucial to recognize that times are changing, providing opportunities for everyone. Initiatives like Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) play a significant role in creating opportunities and opening doors, but it’s also the responsibility of applicants to keep those doors open.

      In conclusion, I believe it’s essential to uphold high hiring standards while also discarding harmful mentalities that impede generational progress, such as those associated with historical injustices.

  51. Should the inclusion portion of DEI be expanded to allow everyone who wants into aviation? Should grooming standards be removed? Company policies requiring tattoos be covered, not allowing certain piercings, and wearing certain uniform items are surely misogynistic and xenophobic, no? Let’s open the door for felons, including those convicted of drunk driving, domestic abuse, and child exploitation, to join the ranks of professional pilots. While we’re at it, remove requirements for people to show up to work on time because it’s been deemed a racist policy by some academics. If you don’t agree with any and all of this, then you’re part of the problem and a misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, Ultra-MAGA extremist, racist.

    Now that I’ve pissed off everyone, this is tongue-in-cheek. However, those who push the tenets of DEI are standing arm-in-arm with individuals or groups who have sought to make the above mainstream. Aviation, and any other industry, can have initiatives to attract more women and minorities without all the baggage and detrimental connotations that comes with DEI. Flat out forcing it to happen in ways such as Scott Kirby is attempting is a great way to hobble your company and cause division and friction in the aircraft and on the ground. The last thing aviation needs is one more distraction to CRM and performing our duties. We’ve all seen the number of close calls and screw-ups that have been seconds from disaster. Having those who sit at a desk and have never operated on the line push policies like this on flight crews are going to have blood on their hands.

  52. It would be interesting to see the figures on student starts–and the progression through the ratings.

    While medical and pilot certificates don’t track ethnicity or country of origin, they do track gender. I’d be interested in what percentage of student pilots are male/female–and how that progresses throughout all of the additional ratings–and comparing the differences as the pilots progress up the ratings.

    In my experience of 62 years of flying, and now 54 years as an FBO–I know that a comparatively smaller number of females actually START flying–and my experience is that they increasingly drop out of receiving the higher ratings.

    Why IS that? Is it financial? Is it “gender related” (perhaps related to raising families?). Is it “time away from home”? THESE type of issues can often be solved by a caring employer–IF the applicant is amenable. My experience is that females achieve a fewer percentage of advanced ratings–and the higher the rating, the lower that percentage is. IF that is the case, we have a DIFFERENT problem–we can address student starts, but why are there fewer women with advanced ratings–and what can we do about it?

    Since we are discussing DIVERSITY–in a related issue, it would be interesting to compare the percentage of non-white holders of advanced ratings to compare against student starts. My own “informed guess” (based on 54 years as an FBO) is that non-white students advancing to ratings that qualify them for a career are EQUAL OR BETTER than white applicants (of BOTH GENDERS)–mainly, because these ratings applicants sincerely WANT the career more than non-whites. IF this is true, it helps to identify the problem–it is more about being DRIVEN to achieve objectives than it is about discrimination. You can’t solve the problem until you can identify the cause.

    My experience in military aviation (Army) is that a higher percentage of non-white pilots excelled and achieved their goals than white pilots–mainly because they WANTED the ratings and the position more than other pilots. Post-military, I’ve observed what I think is a higher percentage of non-white prospective pilots joining the military than white applicants–they USED the military and the GI bill to achieve their goals.

    To sum up, if these issues are true, “quotas” are not the answer–training programs and educational loans are a preferred alternative to “quota” systems. (As lampooned in “Animal House”–“some are MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”)

    • “It would be interesting to see the figures on student starts–and the progression through the ratings.”

      I agree; it’s time to track and analyze data for youth aviation programs. Let’s take the EAA’s Young Eagles, for example—they collect details like age, gender, address, phone number, and email for all participants. More than 2 million young people have been part of this program, taking Young Eagles flights, getting scholarship opportunities, and receiving educational materials. To understand its impact on both EAA and the aviation industry, regular surveys would help figure out efficiency.

      Similarly, other high school aviation programs, like the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation Initiative—a four-year STEM program in the U.S., can do the same. Without effective tracking, assessing its true effectiveness becomes difficult and could be easily misunderstood as just another ‘feel-good’ initiative.

      So, I recommend utilizing data analysis, traceability, along with demographics to evaluate whether these programs genuinely make an impact on recreational or professional ranks.

      • Raf–you seem well-connected–your suggestion on tracking programs like Young Eagles and AOPA Foundation High School Aviation Initiative are a good place to start…….have you explored either program? If so, do you have a link to the effectiveness of these programs?

        As an FBO, and a participant in Young Eagles, I’d like to see the results (and for AOPA if anybody has a link to that program to share).

        Your point is well-taken–if these programs have DEMONSTRATED RESULTS–it would make it even easier to attract more participants–both in “ride-givers” and “ride-TAKERS” (thumbs up!)

  53. The axiom that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink is applicable here. Likewise, short people don’t normally play basketball and lightweights don’t normally play football. And so on. Being a pilot is a glamorous SOUNDING occupation or avocation until one finds out what all is involved. Fewer and fewer youth of today — IMHO — are willing to put out the sweat equity. Coupled with the exorbitant cost of obtaining the rating, THERE’s your problem. As someone already pointed out, those with a burning desire succeed. Without it, they don’t. When I got MY private 53 years ago, I had laid back the $$ and had a burning desire so … I succeeded. Then, being IN the USAF, I used the Aero Club system and the GI Bill IN Service to go beyond that. Today, there is no such help other than taking out loans or having rich parents. Now when we add the problem of ethnicity or gender, it gets tougher. THERE’s your problem.

  54. Emphasizing the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in aviation, it’s appropriate to acknowledge that the awareness surrounding these initiatives is not a passing trend. Just as the world has moved beyond the regressive policies of the pre-Civil Rights Act era in the 1960s, advocating for inclusivity and equal opportunities is an ongoing commitment that cannot be ignored.

    In the aviation sector, fostering diversity is not merely a checkbox but a necessity for progress. Recognizing and embracing diverse talents, backgrounds, and perspectives is fundamental for innovation, safety, and the continued success of the industry. Just as the implementation of the Civil Rights Act marked a transformative moment in history, contemporary DEI initiatives are pivotal in shaping a more equitable and forward-thinking aviation landscape.

    Allowing generational regression to outdated practices undermines the strides made toward inclusivity. Ignoring the imperative for diversity in aviation risks stifling progress and perpetuating inequalities. As the aviation industry evolves, so must its commitment to DEI, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of gender, race, or background. This is not just a contemporary buzzword; it’s a call for sustained action and a pledge to uphold the values of equality that have been hard-won throughout history. ✌️

    • Allowing generational regression to outdated practices undermines the strides made toward inclusivity. Ignoring the imperative for diversity in aviation risks stifling progress and perpetuating inequalities.

      That’s just HS, BS.

      • In other words: Reverting to outdated practices that belong in the past sabotages the significant progress we’ve made in involving everyone. Neglecting the need for diversity in aviation not only delays advancement but also keeps the cycle of inequality alive and well.

    • It’s POLITICS, not aviation.
      I guess we are all supposed to follow along as good party members and regurgitate all that the party has to say? Repeat the politics without thinking like good party members OR you will be hounded and cut off and arrested as a wrong thinker.

      OK, Let’s play along. We need to emphasizing the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in aviation. Got it.

  55. Mr Abel asking for statistics is a sure sign of someone with a weak argument. I wasn’t able to find a single statistic in any part of your comments but you have a nice day too ok? Want to see the results of diversity hiring? Just look at the disaster of the Biden administration on full display as we careen out into WW3 because of his ineptitude. Truly a standout of unqualified disastrous leadership. Even in government employment you could not find a worse more worthless example of incompetence.

  56. Raf–you seem well-connected–your suggestion on tracking programs like Young Eagles and AOPA Foundation High School Aviation Initiative are a good place to start…….have you explored either program? If so, do you have a link to the effectiveness of these programs?

    As an FBO, and a participant in Young Eagles, I’d like to see the results (and for AOPA if anybody has a link to that program to share).

    Your point is well-taken–if these programs have DEMONSTRATED RESULTS–it would make it even easier to attract more participants–both in “ride-givers” and “ride-TAKERS” (thumbs up!)

  57. D.I.E. at its core immoral, illogical, dangerous, and illegal. If you jamokes want to fly on aircraft that is flown by and assembled by people that got their jobs by their outward facing attributes, quotas, “Ramp to Cockpit” initiatives, and not merit, be my guest.

    Mark my words: increased manufacturing errors and flight incidents are coming until we realize that DIE is a regressive practice because you are not getting the best and brightest.

  58. Well, after a marathon of enlightenment on diversity, equity, and inclusion, I feel good to have helped expand other people’s horizons. The incoming offensive comments were as invigorating as a blast of nostalgia from my war time days. I exit with a heart full of gratitude and the satisfaction of successfully navigating the opinion minefield. And to those who disagreed, my bad for the ‘troglodyte’ slip – I admit I went, well… just a bit outside. Keep warm!

  59. Don’t “exit”–RAF. I, too would like to see the results of EAA and AOPA youth programs. I’ve asked organizers for results over the years–and received lots of opinions (“It MUST BE GOOD–we gave XX,XXX,XXX rides”–yet I haven’t seen verifiable figures on ratings or completions.

    I WANT it to be good news–does ANBODY have an actual count on the number or percentage of participants actually went on to get ratings? That’s something that any good advocacy group OUGHT to be tracking.

    As a pilot for over 60 years, and an FBO for over 50 years (and counting) AND as an advocate of any program that encourages people to join the industry in in ANY capacity–I’m in favor of “shouting out the benefits of aviation to the rooftops–but to do that, we need verifiable data–Number of participant in the offering of rides and exposure–number of participants taking advantage of the program–medicals/student pilot certificate issued–Private Pilot and advanced ratings achieved–number of mechanic, avionics technicians, or Air Traffic Controllers produced, etc.

    In OTHER WORDS–ARE THESE PROGRAMS EFFECTIVE? DO THEY WORK? We’ve given a lot of rides for exposure–if the results are GOOD, it would encourage EVEN MORE PEOPLE to participate. If they are NOT effective, we need to try something else.

    Absent any hard data on effectiveness, I’d have to give the “Young Eagles” program a “mixed revue” rating. It may help and inspire some youngsters–but is there a better program out there? If nothing else, the “give a ride” program DOES give the ride-givers a cause to fly and to help maintain proficiency. That’s always a good thing.

    On a personal level–I received my first airplane ride in 1950–when I was 3 years old–my Dad won a drawing at the rural food store for a ride in a new Navion from a farmer’s field. He asked “what do I do with the kid?”–and the pilot answered “put him on your lap.” I distinctly remember the inside of the cockpit–I HAD A “STEERING WHEEL, TOO!” I reached for it, and my Dad pulled me back in fear. The pilot laughed and said “That’s OK”–and 12 years later, I started flight lessons (and Dad started 2 years after I did!). Dad always joked “You were a pretty bright kid, up until that airplane ride–but you didn’t talk right for a couple of years afterwards!” (smile)–and nearly 64 years after that first airplane ride, I still love it! (thumbs up!)

    THANK YOU RAF–for your efforts to ferret out actual results on these introductory ride programs!

  60. You are correct Jim; the aviation community is facing a decline in the number of people involved, particularly in roles like pilots, technicians, and support staff. To address this issue, the AOPA Foundation’s High School Aviation Initiative and the EAA’s Young Eagles Program are working to attract young individuals to aviation careers, with a focus on becoming pilots.
    However, some donors are worried that these programs may not be effective and could be a waste of resources.

    The AOPA Foundation and EAA, being well-informed on this matter, can address these concerns by sharing the extensive data they have collected over the years. By presenting this data, they can highlight the positive impacts of the programs, such as improved workforce efficiency, skill development, and potentially increased contributions to the industry from program participants.

    This quantifiable information can serve as a strong argument, transforming skeptics into supporters. Demonstrating the real benefits on both individual and industry levels can ensure continued success and growth for these crucial aviation initiatives.

  61. Anytime a more qualified applicant is bypassed to fill some “diversity” quota, it’s bad, very bad. And DEI has no place in aviation in any capacity. You can blather out all the word salad you want to, trying to defend it, but it’s still a horrible policy.

  62. The debate over extending the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots from 65 to 67 involves Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) considerations. The aim is to create a diverse age distribution among pilots, balancing the valuable experience of older pilots with opportunities for younger professionals. DEI principles emphasize equitable opportunities, challenging stereotypes, and fostering an inclusive environment where competence and health are prioritized over age-related assumptions.

  63. Here’s what I have to say about DEI. If your hiring decision is based on ANY criteria besides “who is the best qualified”, then that’s flawed judgment, and you obviously won’t get the best candidates. Additionally, if you’re letting race or sex influence your hiring decision at ALL, then that is racist or sexist. Removing barriers for all is great, but when you start to prioritize hiring minority groups, that’s where you go wrong.

  64. FAA data indicates a worrisome trend in decreasing PRIVATE and COMMERCIAL pilot certifications from 2013 to 2022. PRIVATE pilot certifications are declining at a rate of 9% annually, while COMMERCIAL pilots are decreasing at about 4% annually compared to 2013 figures. Conversely, ATP certifications have seen an annual increase of approximately 5%, raising concerns about a potential bubble burst, particularly due to the 65-age limitation.

    The persistent decline in PRIVATE pilot certifications could result in a shortage of COMMERCIAL and ATP pilots in the near future. Taking proactive measures, such as raising the mandatory age requirement from 65 to 67, may help alleviate this issue. This adjustment could offer more time for initiatives like AOPA and EAA’s new-starts programs to attract and train new-starts aspiring to ATP roles. But are these initiatives working?

    Furthermore, addressing the root causes of the decline in PRIVATE pilots, such as high training costs and limited access to flight schools, should be integral to a comprehensive strategy aimed at fostering a healthy and sustainable aviation workforce.

    Boosting ATP ranks is crucial, considering that PRIVATE and COMMERCIAL PILOTS are base for ATPs, while current ATPs may be nearing retirement. Advocating for the age limit adjustment to 67 supports this effort.

    • The best way for the FAA to make aviation 110% safe is to … KILL IT! And one way to do that is to badger and hound the target candidate population to death. Right behind the pilot problem is the mechanic problem. Airlines can afford to pay; FBO’s are forced to doing more with less until they reach the point where there ain’t any skin left on the bone.

      What we’re seeing is the death of entry level and recreational aviation … one razor cut at a time. When non-lead fuel drives the fuel costs up, there’ll be more decline. Unless and until the FAA gets proactive and partners with everyone, there’ll be no good news.

  65. Wait, there is more! With a current population of 333 million, there’s a staggering 49.6% fewer pilots compared to 1980’s 226 million.

    We need immediate, forward-thinking solutions—forget the nonsense. Prioritize by urgency extend ATP age to 67, offer retention incentives, invest in Pilot Training Programs. No room fo for opaque or ineffective youth aviation education initiatives. Ignoring the pilot decline won’t make it go away.

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