"A woman has a better chance of becoming a world heavyweight boxing champion than a head pilot at Deutsche Lufthansa", a quote by Alfred Vermaaten in the 60s, the former head of the Lufthansa’s pilot training school. Female aviators were seen flying in the military, but it was much longer until they were taking charge in commercial cockpits. However, proving Alfred Vermaaten wrong, in 1988, Lufthansa’s first female pilot emerged and went on to become the German flag carrier's first female captain in the year 2000.
In the movie industry, it is always the masculine male who are flying planes. This gives young women a particular perspective of aviation, with the lack of female role models. Thus there are so few women to consider such a career. In an article from DW website, they argue that many women are discouraged about flying because they think that it is an extremely technical job. However, this should not be a barrier to either gender, and anyway, being a pilot is not as technical as one might think. Communication, team skills and other soft skills are a vital part of being a pilot too. Women can do the flying as well as men. Many airlines want to get rid of the stigma of discrimination towards women and they are more than happy to receive applications from female pilots, although the application rate is still meagre.
Some women are also concerned about how the role of being a pilot or engineer can be challenging regarding childcare and family life. However, Captain Lisa from Delta says that it is possible to juggle the career and family life. She has flown for over 30 years and raised three beautiful teenage daughters. The more one’s career progresses in the aviation industry, there is more flexibility in the days and routes of flying.
Recently, The Times India reported that Anny Divya, a 30-year-old pilot from India had become the youngest ever woman to captain a Boeing 777. She had told the news that it was not easy, as many in her life have discouraged her from picking this career path, but her parents were very supportive of Anny’s dream since she was a young girl. However, she also said that she did not have any guidance but after struggles managed through to become what she is now. She is currently also very active on social media, encouraging young women to follow their dreams and providing guidance.
There are more and more women becoming pilots, engineers and other aviation jobs that were traditionally the ‘men’s industry’, but female pilots still only still make up 7% of the industry.
Many of Brookfield’s airline clients are hoping for more female pilots to join their team. One of Brookfield’s missions is to empower young women and to help them to enter the world of aviation. ‘The British Aviation Experience is a great chance for young women to experience what it would be like to fly a plane, work in the industry but most importantly how to start your career’ said Todd Skaggs, the VP Education and Training in Brookfield. For more information about the programme, please click here.