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First, do me a favor and ignore the fact that *this* female pilot hasn't been up since October. I got plans when things warm up. March, I swear.

From Smithsonian Air & Space:

Why are there so few female pilots?

This article is very short and does a poor job describing what I assume is a much larger study.

One thing I hate about all women in (whatever) articles is lack of control. Like, if you're going to say that women only make up 6.61 percent of pilots, and then talk about how you looked at all this history, where's the history? Were women 10% of pilots in 1970? Well then we've got a problem!

And when it comes to economic factors keeping women out of flying... it's known that the average woman in almost every country has less money than the average man. Are women just as likely to get a license when you compare us to men with the same annual income?

All that aside, I would think the culture of flying would actually lead to more women pilots when compared to other STEM fields. I'm curious why that hasn't happened.

STEM fields all have a big disadvantage that women are fighting: overconfident genius culture. I promise. Walk into a group of engineers, you will find very few helpful enthusiastic "teacher" types who can't wait to help you into it. You WILL find defensive, overconfident mansplainers who tell you that they were born knowing everything. Everything they do, every side hobby, parent praise, family gene, they can attribute to making them a great engineer.

You have to be very confident in engineering to stand up to those guys and say, "No, you HAVE made mistakes, I SAW you. And you did not invent cold fusion at the age of 3. Stop posturing, my girlfriends and I are kicking this door in."

I was surprised to see that flying really isn't like that. Okay granted, I'm not a professional or even a commercial pilot... just have a private license. But my instructors were very encouraging, everyone loves to stand around and talk about their mistakes or adventures or craziness. If you say "it's not coming naturally to me!" they will gather around.

I had so many helpful blog readers and twitter friends when I was getting my license! It was a community, a group hug. There was sharing and high fives and encouragement. And not just on the internet... in real life too.

When I was getting a masters in electrical engineering, I just had my other regular friend people who'd been to grad school (but not engineering grad school) saying "spacefem we think you're smart, if anyone can do it it's you, get back in there."

Pilots are just cool. If anyone can solve this "get women into it" thing, I really think aviation as an edge over the other unbalanced fields I've seen.

Yes, it's true that numbers of pilots licenses for EVERYONE are dropping. Flying is expensive, and a tough career if that's where you want to go. But it's awesome for women, I just want to put that out there.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
astrogeek01
Feb. 8th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
I have to agree the time I went for my glider flight everyone was just so damn friendly, it was really awesome. I could really get into it, it was really fun and soaring was so cool.

It seems like the article is including all types of pilots in their numbers? I can imagine there are a number of reasons that women would be less likely to get a pilot's license:

* if it's a hobby pilot, there's the cost. As you point out, women everywhere make less than men so it's kind of obvious that you will get fewer women spending that kind of money.

* again for the hobby pilot, there's the time. We know women overall have way more family care and other obligations than men. So on the time front it's easier for men to actually get a license.

* on the commercial side, I've heard some pretty discouraging things, similar to issues in STEM on the culture. :/ I don't know what the usual trajectory for commercial pilots is? Do most start out on the small planes and then say hey I could like totally do this for a living? Or what?
lilac_ribbon
Feb. 19th, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
When my friend Laura moved to America she got her pilot's licence before her drivers licence! She was studying airport planning and she's now working in that field so she found it super important to get some experience.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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