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Gender on the flightdeck: experiences of female commercial airline pilots in the UK

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conference contribution
posted on 07.05.2015 by Faye McCarthy, Lucy Budd, Stephen Ison
The reasons for, and the implications arising from, the underrepresentation of women on the flightdeck of commercial aircraft continues to challenge national Governments, the aviation industry, and the academic community. Although some airlines have made concerted efforts to improve the gender balance of their flightcrew, female participation in the profession remains low. Of the 130,000 airline pilots worldwide only 4,000 (3%) are female and only 450 hold the command of Captain. The dominant historical discourse of airline pilots as assertive masculine figures may act to dissuade women from pursuing a career on the flightdeck and female pilots are often subject to sexist remarks and behaviour from colleagues and passengers. Given commercial aviation’s increasing growth worldwide and the concurrent increase in demand for highly skilled labour, the inability to recruit and retain female pilots represents a significant problem for both the sector and the wider economy as it will constrain growth, hinder aviation’s expansion by failing to capitalise on female skill sets, and delay the achievement of gender equality. Understanding the experiences of flightcrew is therefore vital in addressing this important research problem. Through the use of in-depth interviews with male and female flightcrew in the UK, this paper seeks to set the agenda in terms of future research. It identifies a number of obstacles to greater female participation and recommends that airlines not only focus on gender differences in learning, leadership and communication but that they also take steps to more effectively manage diversity in their workforce and actively promote positive representations of female flightcrew both within and beyond their organisation.

History

School

  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Transportation Research Board

Citation

MCCARTHY, F., BUDD, L.C.S. and ISON, S., 2015. Gender on the flightdeck: experiences of female commercial airline pilots in the UK. Presented at: 2015 Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting, 11th-15th January 2015, Washington D.C., USA.

Publisher

Transportation Research Board

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2015

Notes

This is a conference paper.

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Language

en

Location

Washington D.C., USA

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