Can you believe that only 3% of pilots – worldwide – are women?
Cultural conditioning is at fault here. Typically perceived as a “man’s job,” women haven’t been encouraged to pursue aviator careers. In fact, while boys aspired to be pilots like the men they saw doing it, there simply were no similar role models for young girls. It’s a lot harder to believe you can do something if you’ve never seen it done before.
Fortunately, the numbers of women in aviation careers are beginning to rise — albeit, ever so slowly. Many airlines have initiated programs to attract female pilots. And, many passengers – particularly mothers with young daughters — have shown support on the occasion that they learn their pilot is a woman. In essence, these moms feel that seeing a woman piloting their plane is inspiring for their own children to see.
So, if you’re a woman who loves to fly but hasn’t considered pursuing a career in it, here are just a few reasons why you should…
1. Become A Role Model to Young Girls
As already mentioned, young girls don’t have many role models to look up to in this field. YOU can change that! Imagine what a little girl walking through an airport might think when she sees you pass by in a pilot uniform. And hey, you never know how many grown women you can inspire, too! Much like how doctors were once seen only as being a “man’s job,” today one in three doctors is a woman. This is a real, exciting chance for you to be a pioneer and help forge the path ahead for women in the aviation industry.
2. Attitudes Have Improved
It’s true that at one time women who attempted aviation careers were ridiculed by the men they worked with. This is because in our frustratingly patriarchal society, the entire field of aviation was seen as a ‘boy’s club.’ But in today’s progressing times, women Captains report that they are treated with the respect they deserve. And, should they not be, there are more legal avenues of protection for women to turn to today than there have ever been before.
3. Available Programs for Women
Several airlines have launched programs to specifically attract women pilots. EasyJet’s Amy Johnson Initiative was set up with a goal to have 20% of their pilots be female and to have added 50 new female pilots each year by 2020. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic’s Future Flyers Program was designed to focus on diverse female pilots. What this all means is that if you’re female and are interested in a pilot career, it’s a great idea to check with various airlines to see what kind of incentives they may have set up to attract and promote female pilots.
4. Options to Pay for Flight School
It’s no secret that flight school is expensive. That alone can be a hurdle for anyone who wants to learn to fly – male or female. While loans are certainly one option, another option for women (or men) is to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering and work as a flight instructor, which will help them to accrue enough hours to pay for flight school. There are also several scholarships and grants available through aviation organizations that are specifically designed to be awarded to women in pursuit of careers as pilots. Two of these organizations are Women in Aviation and The Association for Women in Aviation.
Women should know they don’t need to buy into the culturally-promoted idea that men are better suited for pilot careers. There is nothing by nature that a man possesses that makes him inherently more capable of flying a plane than a woman. It could even be said that what are considered to be more “feminine” characteristics, such as communication and multitasking ability, are traits that serve pilots extremely well. So, if you’re a woman who wants to pursue a pilot career but may doubt yourself because society has programmed you to do so, shut out the negative voices and know that you have every right to the confidence you were born to have.
6. Career Perks and Benefits
Who wouldn’t want to benefit from the perks of being a pilot! First of all, while most people have to spend a fortune to go on vacation, you actually get paid to travel. On your shift breaks, you can explore a variety of cultures, depending on where you are – or, fly yourself to wherever you want to be! Second, you will earn frequent flyer miles and/or receive a discount from the airline you’re employed by, which means actual family vacations will cost less than that of the average family. Third, your schedule is flexible and interesting; no 9-to-5 desk jobs in the friendly skies! And last but not least, the median salary for a jet pilot is in the low six-figures – nothing to scoff at.
7. Aviation Organizations Are Seeking Women Members
Many aviation-related organizations are actively promoting the idea of women in aviation careers and, as such, are trying to boost female membership even from those who are not yet pilots. Our own organization, Pilot2Pilot.com, would be happy to have you as a flight-observing member. This would allow you to get on some flights with other pilots and test the “skies.”
Women with the desire to fly deserve to have a path ahead of them that’s cleared for takeoff. We hope this blog does some small part to encourage all females, young and old, to follow their hearts to the sky, where their dreams can soar!