Why So Few Women Pilots


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This person who wrote this article has been trying to get women into flying for a while so I think he is credible. Different genders think differently. Lost the link right now but will post when I find it again.

"Lighting up the Brain for Aviation

Recently I was having a discussion with a pair of aviation magazine owners and editors. We were talking about how many female pilots have been featured on their magazine’s cover over the years. We reasoned that since the female pilot population is 6-7% of the overall pilot population, that 6-7% of aviation magazine covers should be of women pilots. Yet they certainly weren’t, so we talked about why it seems to be so hard to get girls and young women interested in aviation.

Last year at Oshkosh, I presented a seminar for Build-a-Plane Teacher’s Day on the differences in male and female brains, and how those differences could influence the way students learn about aviation. I thought it might be interesting to touch on some of the highlights of that seminar and perhaps illuminate what I see as some of the challenges of getting females involved in flying.

I will start off by saying that I am not a brain researcher, and this is a basic review of the current science, and is by no means exhaustive. Yet as a practicing psychotherapist for 25 years, I think that I do have some insight in this subject. You should also know that there are exceptions to the facts and we can train our brain to do less than innate activities.

Here is the short story: I versus We: Competence versus Connection. The male brain is organized and focused more on him as an individual, striving for mastery. The female brain is wired for communication, connection and cooperation.

Men have slightly larger brains even when adjusted for their larger heads. They have larger parietal cortices (in charge of space perception), and amygdalas (which regulates sexual and social behavior). This might explain why visual-spatial tasks are easier for men. They tend to be able visually manipulate things in their brain, whereas women tend to need to see spaces and shapes on paper.

Men also have more gray matter in their brains, which is full of active neurons. This might explain why there are more men in physically or mentally active professions like airplane pilots, bush guides, racecar drivers, and mathematicians. Men also tend to be more systematic in their thinking.

Women’s brains are 8-10% smaller than the male brain, yet on average, are much more active. Women have larger volume in both the frontal cortex (the inner CEO) and the limbic cortex (involved in emotional responses). This, in conjunction with speedy connections facilitated by the white matter, is another reason why women’s brains work faster. Renowned brain researcher, Dr. Daniel Amen’s research shows that women have greater activity in the brain’s hippocampus. If you wonder why your wife or girlfriend never forgets anything, here’s your answer: The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps store memories.

In addition, the female brain has a larger corpus callosum, which is a bundle of nerves that connects emotion and cognition. As a result, women are better with language abilities and rely more heavily on oral or verbal communication. They also tend to have a better time controlling emotions, although they are more emotional. Women, on average use four words to every one word a man uses. The female brain secretes more serotonin and oxytocin, which connects them further to the emotional world.

These differences relate to aviation because when we know what lights up the brain for each gender we can tailor our sales pitch to the crowd. In sum, boys or men will be excited about the individual mastery, competition, or competence in aviation. Girls or women will be excited to be part of a collaborative group of women pilots. Boys or men might be better with conceptualizing basic principles of flight. Girls or women would learn better by hands-on demonstration.

When I display at airport events with the Mooney Ambassador group, we get lots of kids and grown ups in the airplane. I never fail to say to the girls, “have you thought about becoming a pilot?. We need more girl pilots.” You should see their eyes (brain) light up."

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In a nutshell.......who cares if there is a shortage of female pilots or if women want to become pilots or not?

It is a free country and the ladies have the right to try to become a pilot if they want. If the number of female pilots is down, does anyone really care ?

Is this thread an attempt to have all the "boys" jump on the bandwagon and start a movement to get more women to be pilots?

If that is the case, how about getting more men to become seamstresses.....must be a shortage of guys with sewing skills out there as well. :blush:

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Given statistical trends it looks like women are too smart to enter the industry.

Women are generally better educated than men and are closing the income gap more and more.

Personally I do not feel threatened or intimidated by any kind of group that wants to promote women in aviation. Maybe if there were more women there would not be the complaining about WAWCON and race to the bottom that dominate pilot conversations, maybe if the profession had been more female friendly there would be better WAWCON now.

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Given statistical trends it looks like women are too smart to enter the industry.

Not likely and completely misses the mark. More likely is that a lesser percentage are interested in this industry. But the article is not about professional pilots.

You will note that the article was written by a general aviation advocate group. Their biggest interest is getting people to become general aviation pilots.This would include middle aged and older persons with an established career or at least reasonable financial status, having a goal of a private pilots licence and ideally buying an aircraft. Once again, the percentage of women interested is much smaller. So it is an across the board lower interest in pursuing this skill and the article has explained why.

The next goal for AOPA/COPA after understanding why, would be to try to figure out how to create more interest in women becoming pilots. I don't think coming to a false general conclusion that women are too smart will help their cause.

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Actually, while the total membership of AOPA is relatively stable, the number of pilots in the US has been steadily decreasing. Many pilots are quite old as well. AOPA considers this one of the biggest threats to general aviation as less pilots means less purchases which means higher prices which becomes a vicious cycle. If somehow, they could be as many female pilots as male, there would be a great benefit to general aviation.

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Not likely and completely misses the mark. More likely is that a lesser percentage are interested in this industry. But the article is not about professional pilots.

You will note that the article was written by a general aviation advocate group. Their biggest interest is getting people to become general aviation pilots.This would include middle aged and older persons with an established career or at least reasonable financial status, having a goal of a private pilots licence and ideally buying an aircraft. Once again, the percentage of women interested is much smaller. So it is an across the board lower interest in pursuing this skill and the article has explained why.

The next goal for AOPA/COPA after understanding why, would be to try to figure out how to create more interest in women becoming pilots. I don't think coming to a false general conclusion that women are too smart will help their cause.

Thanks Sherlock. I am intrigued by your views and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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Malcolm

With respect to your comment about the relative success rates between males & females following their acquirement of a Commercial licence; 'train to standard' was largely introduced after women began to enter the airline world.

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Guest flywest

Malcolm

With respect to your comment about the relative success rates between males & females following their acquirement of a Commercial licence; 'train to standard' was largely introduced after women began to enter the airline world.

WOW! :eek:

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'train to standard' was largely introduced after women began to enter the airline world.

That smells like BS to me.... Whether women "began to enter' coincident with the application of that standard is most certainly not indicative of cause and effect... Having done more hangar flying than many, I'm quite confident in saying most male pilots will tell you (sometimes only confidentially) they think female pilots in general are smoother flyers, otherwise, pas de difference.

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Guest rozar s'macco

That smells like BS to me.... Whether women "began to enter' coincident with the application of that standard is most certainly not indicative of cause and effect... Having done more hangar flying than many, I'm quite confident in saying most male pilots will tell you (sometimes only confidentially) they think female pilots in general are smoother flyers, otherwise, pas de difference.

I would say that we are post-feminist in aviation, for the most part. Competence rules. Regarding your statement that confidentially most male pilots will "admit" that females are smoother? Have you ever met a pilot? Admitting something like that, even about another male pilot, is not in the DNA. Sounds good but sorry, not true.

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Reality bites eh, Flywest.

I made a comment that appears to have morphed out of context.

When diversity became an ambition of government, females were hired regardless of potential competence to satisfy the new pc agenda. Issues of individual competence soon followed. Those in authority were learning a new dance as nobody wanted to stick his neck out and fire a female for being incompetent. As problems started adding up organizations such as the Human Rights Commission got involved and new concepts such as, the never ending sim, ride & line indoc programs emerged. 'Train to standard' soon became the fashion and was intended to ensure everyone received the same chance to be an airline pilot.

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I would say that we are post-feminist in aviation, for the most part. Competence rules. Regarding your statement that confidentially most male pilots will "admit" that females are smoother? Have you ever met a pilot? Admitting something like that, even about another male pilot, is not in the DNA. Sounds good but sorry, not true.

Lol... Yessir, I've met a few.

Interestingly, not unlike AME's, whatever it is that attracts and holds people in flying positions, is not at all in concert with other, more typically shared human traits (in twatm, that is)... In other words, you'll find Geeks and Jocks, mice and men, 400hz and 60hz, girls and boys, Prim-and-proper and course-and-crude, A types, B types, X types and Y types... green alligators and long necked geese ... you get the idea... But yes, there are some shared traits, common among pilots.... Ego (often), confidence (necessarily), motor skills (dwindling), and some other things I can't put my finger on.... (other than a simple love of flying)

....But one thing I've not seen as common among pilots, is any tendency from males toward denigrating their female colleagues.

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