Recently, I wrote a graduate paper for my Legal and Ethical Issues in Aviation class that looked at the barriers preventing women from entering the aviation industry. The aviation industry, in the famous words of James Brown, is a “man’s world.” I looked at some of the barriers that hinder women from entering into this technical field. The largest issue is the psyche of the industry. It is still considered a white male world and the “type A” personality tends to be what people think of when thinking of aviation. During the past 110 years, the number of women in every level of aviation has been expanding, especially in the past two decades. Despite this, there are only about 23% non-pilot women, 6.7% women pilots and only 6.5% women flight instructors.
The cost of aviation education and training is the first barrier preventing women from entering the industry. There is no doubt that my education is expensive, but I know that the return on investment (ROI) will be worth the extra expenses. On average, getting a private pilot’s license averages about $8,000 from start to finish. There are organizations such as the Ninety-Nines and Women in Aviation who provide scholarships to women looking for a job in aviation. But this is not enough. The next barrier is the availability of information. Unless you know someone in the industry, or have a love of flying from a young age, getting involved and “in-the-know” can be difficult in this field. The finally barrier is one I mentioned before, the psyche or climate of the industry. All of this hinders women’s ability, but it does not stop them.
Time has been the best solution for some pioneering women like Eileen Collins. She was a military flight instructor and went on to become the first female astronaut to pilot the Space Station. As a woman entering this field, it is good being able to understand the current climate of the industry. I encourage women or anyone to get interested and excited about aviation. It is a wonderful field full of new technology and is absolutely fascinating to learn about. If we want things to change, then it starts with us, right here and right now.