Am I treated differently because I am a female pilot? Did I ever had to prove myself because I am a girl in a man’s world?
The answer to those questions would be YES!
It is sometimes difficult being female in this industry, you can be treated differently by customers, your colleagues, your instructors, but it is up to YOU to have the right attitude to challenge their views and perception of women in the aviation fields.
It is very easy to get caught up in the whole saga of poor me, I am female, its more difficult for me, they don’t treat me the same as one of the guys, I am not strong enough to push the aircraft, my feet don’t reach the pedals, I have to work twice as hard and get higher marks to be seen as equal, etc etc and so on.
And to be perfectly honest, I have at times felt that same way, and some times I will admit, it has gotten a little rough. But it is up to us to be the change we want to see in this world, it is up to us to instigate the change of perception, to educate those who are uneducated.
Over the many years that I have been flying and working in the industry, I have developed a thicker skin to the comments that are made, most of them not usually meant to be mean or nasty, but usually said out of shock that a woman is actually flying the plane!
Now I could get upset at the remarks, or I could take the opportunity to educate the person/persons making the comment. I choose to educate. After all, it really is not their fault that they have not been lucky enough to meet a female pilot before!
This industry is changing dramatically, and perceptions have changed a lot over the last few years for me personally. It is more common now than ever to see female faces flying airplanes, operating air traffic control, working in engineering and defense roles.
Traditionally women’s roles in aviation were usually limited to non flying roles, so it was never common to see a woman in the pilot’s seat, and it is very normal to have mixed reactions from customers when the female pilot steps out of the aircraft.
Lets be honest here, female pilots only make up around 5% globally in commercial aviation, to be an executive of an aviation company and be female is even less common. We are not a common sight, but that is slowly changing.
It is refreshing to see more and more women entering into the aviation streams, including aviation management.
I believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that all young women and girls are shown the wonderful opportunities that aviation pathways provide and to do this we need to provide education programs, strong mentors and proven support networks. Many of these come through involvement with volunteer organisations such as Women in Aviation Australia
There are many volunteer organisations that are actively promoting and encouraging girls and young women into the industry, if you are a professional in the aviation sectors I would highly encourage any of you to put your hand up and volunteer some time to help by expanding the outreach.
The more people we have sharing their love of the industry, the more role models we provide to our up and coming aviation and aerospace professionals.
Lets make the Change, lets Change the Perceptions. Lets create the future for all females in aviation together!
WAI Australian Chapter National President – Tam Camilleri