Where are the women?

I reckon this forum is great. I’m very impressed by the kindness of those sharing informaton and often it’s amusing. In looking at it over the last few months I have noticed one big thing. Where are the women?

All of the contributors appear to men. (Though in cyberspace one can never be too sure!) Why is that?

How many women fly Cirrus versus guys? Why don’t more of them fly? After all piloting is often about multitasking and if you can bring up kids you’ve had plenty of experience at that. Many of the posts on the forum are verging on the geek/gear guy stuff. Nothing wrong with that but geek girls are a bit thinner on the ground. Is that an explanation?

I reckon I have got a few answers myself, but bugger it. I am sitting at home with two glasses of wine under my belt and I might as well ask a mildly provocative question.

Cheers Tony
BTW
a) I aren’t flying tommorrow: and
b) I am happily live with a girl who doesn’t seem too fussed about how much money I throw at an aeroplane.

1 Like

G’day Tony,

One of my partners in the SR20 is a woman - she has an instrument rating, her husband is a student pilot :slight_smile:

I’m having a tipple myself, along with a nice bit of cheese :wink:

Cheers.

Tony,

I’ve got a 22 on order for when I spend more time in the USA. I currently live in Surrey, UIK (for the past 7 yrs) while an exec with Shell. Now somewhat semi-retired, I’m spending time getting ready to alot more flying. Do you ever come by Fairoaks… love to get a ride in a SRXX if you need someone to “copilot” sometime!

Time for my glass of wine now. My wife doesn’t pilot!

Alex

I know that this is not a good statistical sample, but after I bring our (my wife forced me to buy it!) SR22 home the 2nd wk of June, there will be two Cirrus at Prescott AZ airport (PRC). The other (SR20) is owned by a very active 70 young lady. So there you have it. 50/50. (Actually 66/33 in favor of women if you count my wife as a partner)

Walt N224AZ

I am a women and was just asking that same question the other day. I am the member of the family who initially encouraged my husband to purchase a Cirrus as he has been a pilot for 30 years and has always rented or flown in a club. With that recommendation for a family/couple plane to enable us to fly when ever we wanted to, and as often as we wanted to, my husband said. Fine, we will buy the Cirrus, but you need need to become a pilot.
Well, we signed the contract for the plane, I did become a student pilot and became a pilot effective August 2001. We are now ready for the Cirrus and I am waiting on the edge of my seat just like the rest of you. However, my husband is the one that is always on the web site and has been more active in talking to other Cirrus interested parties than I have. But I too would be interested how many of us are out there in this wonderful Cirrus family? Elaine Turrisi

we’re here…we even instruct in cirri! thanks for asking…

Yes we are very much here. I read the boards daily but tend not to post because frankly, I don’t know that much about the Cirrus in terms of how things work, etc. HOWEVER, I do know that I LOVE our plane. I’ve never once questioned our decision to buy the plane and I can’t wait until I have some time to finish my training and finally get my private ticket and then transition to the Cirrus.

Robin Lin
N96706

This is one of the most intriguing aspects of the aviation world, from my point of view. It has nothing to do with Cirrus itself.
The most interesting stat I came across when doing my airplane book is this: for as long as records have been kept (ie, since the early 1920s), the proportion of pilots who are women has been almost constant. Just about six per cent, year in and year out.
There are lots of gender-balance stats where the explanation is obviously lack of opportunity or encouragement. My father graduated from medical school in 1949, and his was the first graduating class at that school to have any women in it. Now medical school enrollment is almost 50-50, and nationwide I think there are more women then men law students. My college was 75/25 male/female when I attended and is now 50/50.

The constancy of piloting figures suggests that the aviation gap is something more than simply the lack of “role models,” or barriers, or the like – though those factors nonetheless exist. Some people also say that it’s “purely” a financial difference – women don’t feel as free to squander the family resources on flying toys. There may be something to that-- especially in the case of the Cirrus or Lancair community, where the price of admission is high. But if this were the principal reason, we’d see more women with the cheaper, older airplanes.

My hypothesis has been: there is something about the combination of experiences involved in flying that just appeals to a larger number of men than of women. Clearly there’s a mixture of attractions in this business. I was never a car nut and tolerate, rather than enjoy, having to learn about exhaust-gas temperature; other people love this aspect. What I love is the way things look when you’re zooming from place to place, plus the procedural aspects of instrument flight. There are people, of whom I am not one, who love the race-car / fighter-pilot aspects. But whatever the ingredients in this mix, they attract more men.

In my own household, my wife was a competitive racing-sailor in her youth, and I thought she would be fascinated by airplanes. She is not afraid of them, but she judges them on purely utilitarian terms. The Cirrus makes it easier for us to visit our kids and parents, so it’s a plus. She would never go on a $100 hamburger trip.

It’s obviously not an all or nothing thing: we all know women flyers who are just as nuts about this as the standard man, and the biography of Beryl Markham (“West With the Night,”) even more than Amelia Earhart, shows that women share the fascination of flying. It seems to be a population-distribution matter. There is a certain kind of person who loves this activity, and more such people are male than female.

Whenever I meet a woman or girl who seems interested in flying, I encourage her to start lessons.

Alex
Since I live in Canberra Australia, it’s unlikely that I will come by Fairoaks much! However if you are in Australia the offer of a flight stands
cheers
Tony

Elaine,

 You know you could get your own password into the forums so that you could refute your husbands responses if that would ever be necessary!!!! However it is a changing, but aviation is still a male dominated activity. I just wish that I could get my wife to fly with me let alone tell me to go by a Cirrus. For now I'll just have to be happy flying and instructing in other owners aircraft!

Jim,

That was a wonderfully eloquent expression of your views - views I share, but could never have described anywhere near as succinctly as you did.

I think I may have mentioned this before: You ought to consider writing (perhaps journalism) as a career. [;)]

Mike.

But after Beryl Markham flew across the Atlantic she never really flew again and eventually returned to Africa and resumed training horses.

Jim: There may be another factor at work here.

I would be willing to bet that the following describes about 50% of our first experiences walking into an FBO:

You walked, somewhat sheepishly, into an FBO. You’re alone in a strange world. The building is about 30 years old and badly in need of repairs. The carpet is original and by this time, coffee colored. A group of older men are sitting around a table strewn with flying magazines or on old tattered couches and overstuffed chairs exchanging ‘war stories.’ These men stop talking momentarily, look up, check you out and return to their conversations.

You continued to look around and find a small counter at one side of the building. It has a glass top and glass front ans there are some weird looking charts and books as well as some off products for sale which you have never seen before. There are many old pictures of WWII asircraft, af few aerial shots of the field and a couple of yellowed posters with some cute coments about ‘cheating death’ and the ‘12 greatest lies in flying.’

You notice a person behind the counter. He is either speaking with someone or sitting behind a desk, consumed in some activity. Either way, your presence is hardly noticed and definitely not acknowledged in any sort of professional way.

If you have managed to stick with it up till this point and you manage to go to the bathroom, you are welcomed by a bathroom which is decorated in 1950’s porcelain and rust.

Does this sound like an environment that is inviting to many people, let alone women? No, it is a model for intimidation! People speak of car repair shops as being intimidating to women. Hey, I haven’t even mentioned the 25 year old, dirty ugly trainers we learned in. If you ignore the military trained pilots and those of us with strong family encouragement, the above is the gauntlet that many of us had to face.

I’m certainly not the first to notice the lack of professionalism and smart business practices in FBOs and GA altogether, but if we want to expand the industry to appeal to, how did you put it Jim?, citizen pilots?, then we have to advance the level of awareness of some fundamental concepts, like professionalism and good business.

$0.02 Marty

Marty,

Your description is an uncanny, precise snapshot of my first experience in an FBO. I agree that most women would turn around and walk.

Paul

Really interesting… Almost my experience to a tee. But I walked out and didn’t go back. Went and found a flying club with some young people and even a couple of women CFI’s.I’ve been very excited to find and be part of Oakland Flyers at Oakland Airport (CA).

Marty, Were you there the first time I walked into an FBO?
Susan SR22 N675PS (due date 7/29/02)

This describes my first visit to an FBO too. I agree that it’s a huge barrier in expanding the supply of pilots, which in turn is the main barrier to GA’s becoming more mainstream.
(Indication of non-mainstream status: There are half as many Americans who say they belong to “Wiccan/Pagan/ Druid” religions as Americans who have current pilot certificates. 320,000 in the first case; 630,000 in the second.)
But I don’t think the whole FBO experience is the root of the “where are the women” problem. It’s off-putting to anyone – and if it has any bias, it’s as much an anti-yuppie bias as an anti-female one. If consumer-unfriendly FBOs really were the heart of the gender problem, we’d see:
– a higher proportion of female pilots back when the FBOs were nice and new. (Maybe they never were nice, but they once were new, and they have to have been nicer at some point than they are now);

– higher proportions of female flyers signing up for “inviting” new products, like the Cirrus or Lancair

– some change in the male/female stats over the years.

So I think Marty has answered a different and broader question: “Where are the men AND the women?”

In reply to:


I agree that it’s a huge barrier in expanding the supply of pilots, which in turn is the main barrier to GA’s becoming more mainstream… But I don’t think the whole FBO experience is the root of the “where are the women” problem. It’s off-putting to anyone – and if it has any bias, it’s as much an anti-yuppie bias as an anti-female one. If consumer-unfriendly FBOs really were the heart of the gender problem, we’d see:


Jim: True and my response really was multi-faceted to the multiple questions of: Where are the women? And why aren’t there more pilots? I think the two are inextricably related. The following are a few more replies to your arguments:

In reply to:


– a higher proportion of female pilots back when the FBOs were nice and new. (Maybe they never were nice, but they once were new, and they have to have been nicer at some point than they are now);


Were a significant proportion of FBO ever “new” in the sense of being modern and inviting (especially to women)? Also, if any of the yes is, “yes in the 40’s 50’s 60’s,” well, the culture was different then and not nearly as open to women in traditionally male jobs/roles. To accurately control for the effect of a good clean modern FBO on pilot starts (particularly women) it has to happen in today’s world, not earlier in the last century.

In reply to:


– higher proportions of female flyers signing up for “inviting” new products, like the Cirrus or Lancair


To few and far between. How many of these new products are in new modern clean FBOs? You can have 100 of the prettiest shiniest new Cirruses, Lancairs, Katanas, and Eagles, and an FBO with the same ‘old’ attitudes and appearance and the perceived ‘proof’ will be that the new airplanes don’t make a difference. I agree, they would if given an fighting chance.

In reply to:


– some change in the male/female stats over the years.


Well if you said (I think you did) that the percent of women pilots has been consistent, then how do you account for the increasing number (and percent) of women pilots in the military and in the airlines? I think this may very well give anecdotal support that the deterioration fo the FBO’s (and fleets) has been a bigger disincentive for women than men.

In reply to:


So I think Marty has answered a different and broader question: “Where are the men AND the women?”


Really my point.

Marty

The number of Wiccan/Pagan/Druid pilots must be extremely small. Especially female Wiccan/Pagan/Druids. Unless they’re raised not to be intimidated by rusty bathrooms, glass display cases, and dilapidated couches.

I think another issue is the “lag factor”. Women only really started getting out of the house and into the normally male dominated, high powered and lucrative professions in the 1970’s. Many of us then focused on the dual challenges of being respected professionals (respect didn’t come hand in hand with the title doctor, lawyer etc as it usually does for men in these professions) and loving, nurturing moms, with all of the time demands that implies. It didn’t leave a lot of time to indulge in activities that might be personally satisfying but didn’t include or involve family. It’s only after the youngest child has become pretty much independent (i.e. high school age) that we could begin to think about directing our energies to activities that are satisfying in a more personal way. Hence, the lag factor. FWIW Susan