Why are there so few women pilots?

Women pilots represent less than 6% of the worldwide pilot population and that is despite affirmative action in many countries. It is important that the aviation industry recruits more women not least because of genuine concerns about pilot shortages.

Absent AviatorsA new book, Absent Aviators, just published by Ashgate, tackles gender issues in the aviation workplace. Interestingly, the book’s introduction observes: “rather than a glass ceiling, the aviation domain appears to have glass doors. Many women may look inside and turn away from what they see and hear. Those who do enter can be faced with a strongly masculine, often misogynistic culture.”

Absent Aviators is edited by Donna Bridges, Charles Sturt University, Australia, Jane Neal-Smith, London Metropolitan Business School, and Albert J. Mills, St Mary’s University, Canada.

‘Aviation is an intensely competitive, global industry providing transportation and employment across the world. Absent Aviators is a must read for anyone with an interest in the gendered history, structure and culture of this fascinating industry. It is predicted that over 400,000 new pilots will be needed within the next two decades to meet increasing demand. Against this background, the contributors to this timely book ask, why are women so under-represented in commercial airline piloting, and what can be done to address this problem?’   Melissa Tyler, University of Essex, UK

‘Aviation buffs, sociologists of work, and feminists alike will applaud the achievements of this ample volume, detailing the man’s world of piloting. The diverse background of authors – including from within aviation – gives the volume its great texture and authority. As the cockpit remains one of the most staunchly masculinist spaces in industrial employment, Absent Aviators tackles these highly gendered realms as both a human problem and management issue.’   Christine Yano, University of Hawaii, USA

‘Absent Aviators presents a breathtaking exposure of the gendered dimensions of the historically male-dominated civil and military aviation industry. The diverse perspectives, conceptual and methodological approaches adopted by both academic and industry-based contributors provide unique insights into the barriers faced by female aviators in a variety of cases drawn from different national, historical and contemporary contexts.’   Lucy Taksa, Macquarie University, Australia

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