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RESEARCH! Is flying a male thing?!

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RESEARCH! Is flying a male thing?!

Old 8th Sep 2008, 16:25
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RESEARCH! Is flying a male thing?!


I have been given an discursive essay to complete as part of my GCSE curriculum and I have decided on a topic and all I need now is
research, opinions etc.

I would be enternally grateful if you could gave me any opinions or thoughts on the matter because now I have all the facts and just want some personal thoughts.

Please if you have any thoughts or arguements for or against this please post back!

Is aviation a male profession?


Last edited by littleflyer; 9th Sep 2008 at 19:14.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 16:32
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It bloody well should be..............................
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 16:53
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na ahh
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:01
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I agree.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:06
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Interesting topic! There's a whole host of questions to be asked... I imagine you could investigate whether it's rooted cultural, genetic or social reason.

Maybe it's because women have a stigma of being bad drivers (for some)? Maybe because men love their transport whether it be cars, bikes, planes or trains, resulting in higher volumes of plane drivers? Is it similar to why there are so few women bus drivers, taxi drivers, or train drivers? Possibly flying is seen as 'manual' work, therefore a traditionally male profession?

Suppose the PC answer would be that women and men are equally capable however current figures show it is a male dominated profession.

Best of luck, and post your results please
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:08
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Sounds to me as if we're the ones who have been given an discursive essay to complete.


Spend some time with the search function. Google your topic. Go to the library. If you take verbatim what you get here, I doubt it will be received well within a report. Add to that, it is in the research where you learn, not the collection of comments.

Good luck.

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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:13
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My half penny worth...............................the girls that I have flown with are GOOD, unlike men who vary between adequate and excellent, you will not find, in my opinion, average females . That seem to self-select out if not good.

This does not apply to Kristina Sheffield - 'she' used to be a man! ............dbee PS

I'm not sure whether the name was Christina
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:35
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I guess the clue is to consider how many aviation pioneers have been male and how many female. First there are those who designed and built their own flying machines and then consider those who undertook 'flights into the unknown' (I'm not going to supply the answers - that's for you to do if you want to claim the work as your own).
Then, as suggested, research the relative numbers of male/female flightdeck crew (I suggest you ignore the cabin element) - approaching the airlines might prompt a response.
How many airline chiefs are of the (full) female persuasion?
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:36
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11 fan,

I have already googled and library'ed until i was blue
in the face but now the essay only contains facts. I think
that by getting personal views from others could help me
incase I missed anything.

Thanks anyway
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 17:50
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I'd contact the relevant women pilots group.
UK is the British Women pilots group.
Australia is the AWPA.

Worldwide, the 99s.

In my company, I think it's about 2-% of the pilot group is female. (over 1,000 pilots).

Do I think it's a male profession? No. In that you must be male to successfully do it, do I think it's a male dominated profession? Only in that there are plenty more guys to girls. (ie target rich environment).
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 18:24
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If you do some research in the archives of PPRuNe you will find quite a few threads on similar topics which will help you.

Be careful though, some of the opinions will surprise you!
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 18:41
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If flying was for women the sky would be pink, not blue.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 18:47
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Please pardon my presumptions. My mistake, and well done you.

And if you will allow, I'll offer something hopefully of value this time.

In my little part of the world (designing and building the aircraft), Maths and Science were always dominated by males. Frankly, I suspect that it was a culture thing more than anything else, at least in my generation.

That said, as I am now one of the "elders' if you will, it seems that the new generation of talent has shifted and as I walk the hallways of the Big "B", more and more of the younger generation are females. A welcome sight as it has become quite obvious (to me at least) that the aerospace community has recognized that the engineering talent is not necessarily a "male" thing, rather, that anyone -regardless of gender- has meaningful contributions to offer.

One aspect you may consider is equal opportunity employment and the changes that have occurred since new laws were implemented.

Best of luck to you in your studies, and again, pardon my earlier comments.


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Old 8th Sep 2008, 19:06
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As an Example

From Aviation Week:

Workforce Study: One Young Engineerís Story Aviation Week & Space Technology 08/18/2008 , page 78

Carole R. Hedden Phoenix

The "essence" of engineering captivated one young aerospace worker early in life

Printed headline: Captured Early On

Jennifer Wapenski is a 24-year-old aerospace engineer with Boeing, working on the Commercial Airplanes 747 production line. And her story may serve as a helpful case study for aerospace and defense companies seeking to attract young talent.

"If you ask my parents, they knew I was going to be an engineer from the day I was born," laughs Wapenski. "I was [my dadís] first copilot. He built an airplane in our garage, so I bucked a lot of rivets. I just had a lot of exposure to building things."

Another one of Wapenskiís early influences was her high school biology teacher. "He started me off thinking about how to apply math and science" in the real world, she says. "He encouraged me and provided guidance and mentoring."

She also took full advantage of her experiences at the University of Michigan, exploring all the possibilities available to her in the engineering field. "Engineering is all about making a difference," Wapenski says. "Itís about making life easier or improving some aspect of the world. Everything we use every day was touched by an engineer at some point."

A unique combination of factors led Wapenski to where she is today. She is one of the lucky onesófew students can claim fathers who serve as home-grown mentors or high school teachers that spot and foster the latent talents. Sadly, that is far from the norm. How many teachers and guidance counselors know what is involved in an engineering career, the academic requirements, and how to apply for engineering schools and scholarships? Who in todayís education system can provide that road map? Not many. Professional development for todayís high school teachers tends to focus on No Child Left Behind documentation, not career counseling.

But itís work that keeps Wapenski passionate about engineering. Her typical day starts with a morning crew meeting. After examining concerns and priorities in a team environment, she goes back to her desk and reviews the issues online. Then she chooses which one to tackle first. "I go out to the airplane and make sure I fully understand what is going onówith the people and the materials." After an analysis period in which she coordinates with "the experts," she writes an instruction guide to fixing the problem.

She says most people think of her job as sitting in a cube with a rigid schedule. But thatís a popular misconception. She is far more likely to be crawling around the inside of an airplane wing. "Thatís what I love about my job," she says. "These things are the essence of engineering. Every day I touch a 747óone of the most recognizable aircraft in the world. Millions of people depend on it. Thatís an honor."

When mentoring others, Wapenski points out that there are more opportunities than ever in technology. Students should keep their options open "until you know what drives you," she advises. "That means keeping up with math and science throughout high school so you have those options."
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 19:10
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I don't believe aviation is an intrinsically male thing but there are a multitude of reasons why there are so fewer female pilots (and even fewer in the rotary world!).

There were quite a few female pilots during the Second World War but, as soon as the war was over, they were expected, by society (and the military!) to return to domesticity. This was an age when very few women worked and married ones, hardly ever.

So this could demonstrate both society and social expectation holding women back.

However, it must be accepted that the majority of women are just not interested in flying. They are highly unlikely to be reading these pages. I have a number of female friends who, whilst admiring what I do, cannot for the life of them understand why I want to!

When I told a friend how much it cost per hour to fly, she exclaimed, "Bloody hell, you could buy a pair of Jimmy Choos for that!"; one saying how much my PPL cost and I could have had a 3 month round the world trip for the same. There was a complete lack of empathy in our diverse priorities!

My perception is that much of this, in these times is nature, not nuture. Those women who want to fly, usually do so although some may sacrifice that desire if the desire to have children is greater. I also know of a couple of women who gave up flying when they had children as they did not want to take any unnecessary risks for their sakes.



If flying was for women the sky would be pink, not blue.
How original, never heard that one before! How long before we get the cockpit/box office quip?
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 22:45
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I also know of a couple of women who gave up flying when they had children as they did not want to take any unnecessary risks for their sakes.
Not exclusive to women that. I not sure I can justify what I do any longer now that children are around. It would be different if I had the airline job. Which in the end will impel me one way or the other. Even the airline job is essentially anti family and anti social.

But they are motivations for after you become a pilot. Is flying a male thing? No, but it certainly looks like it from the outside. I don't think it's any use asking women pilots why they took up flying. For the most part their motivation is probably the same as most men. It would be interesting to find women who considered becoming pilots and rejected the notion. That would be hard to do. If I ask my wife, she simply tells me she wasn't interested. Never considered it. Yet she went for a highly complex, very technical career as a scientist. So the technical aspect would not have put her off.

What I find interesting is that despite all the talk of equality and gender bias. Women simply do not chose certain professions despite the fact that it has never been easier to do so.

The simple and obvious answer is that in general women are not interested in becoming a pilot. Flying is not a male profession. It's simply a profession that more men find interesting than women.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 22:49
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It's called the cockpit not the box office for a reason!

(Just kidding. Dumb f*cki*g question to begin with!)

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Old 8th Sep 2008, 23:13
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It's certainly not a dumb question.

I flew with Yvonne Pope as she was then, on the first few of her flights. The press were there to meet us as we made our way round the newspaper run. They asked an intelligent question. Yes, one question. Will you be wearing skirt or trousers?

Portended that did.

Two things happed that are germane to the question. 1/ A skipper resigned in protest. 2/ She went on to be an experienced skipper on jet transport.

I'm sure that not all women would make good pilots. Their monthly cycles can be insignificant, but they can also be a terrible burden. No amount of commitment would suppress a bad sufferer's days of misery. So, the physiological issues have to be taken into the equation. The associated psychological phases are legendary, and while they might prompt much humor, some of the swings of emotion are not even a little bit funny. To take on this job for the long term, a female would have to know just how much they were going to be affected. Hard to plan ahead when one needs to start training at a youngish age.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 23:14
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Start Here...

Get yourself a copy of a book called "Why Men Don't Listen and Why Women Can't Read Maps" by Allan and Barbara Pease. It'll explain a lot of what you're asking in terms of human neuro-physiology.

Allan & Barbara Pease Official Site - Why Men Don't Listen & Women Can't Read Maps

Read that, then come back and ask the more specific question you actually want to answer.
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Old 8th Sep 2008, 23:28
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Whirls in answer to your question it took 3 posts.

This is a similar question to the classical Industrial Relations Academic arguments about Teaching and Nursing being "female" occupations (or callings).

Interestingly new technology is normally seen as "belonging" to men. For example, when typewriters were invented they were operated by men (the early speed typing record was held by a man). It was only when typing was seen to be "unskilled" that the role was relegated to women.

In the same way flying was seen to be (and to a large extent still is seen to be) both dangerous AND highly skilled. Therefore, if history teaches us anything, it is that this occupation will remain dominated by men until it is seen as both unskilled and safe. There are obviously a few pioneers who bucked this trend such as Amelia Erhardt but this was definitely the exception and not the rule.

There are a number of factors however which will go against women ever being an even number with men in the Industry. There is the requirement for good marks in science and maths which are traditionally not favourably marketed to girls in schools. There is the very un-family friendly working patterns for pilots in GA and airlines. There is the long delay between training and advancement, reliant upon seniority which is very hard for a woman to acheive if she wants a family as well. There are also a number of other factors which I can't recall right now.

I suppose one way of viewing the issue is that aviation is not so much a profession for men but rather it is a profession which maintains a number of significant barriers to entry and advancement for women.

It's a good question and have fun writing the report. I know you have said that you have fully researched the topic but if you want academic research on similar topics do a search on "calling or profession" or "gender and skills equity".
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