Posted by: mackenzienowak | April 9, 2020

Soaring Towards Equality?

I was on LinkedIn the other day and I came across a post that was commending a company that offers full scholarships to women that want to become pilots. I don’t know why I was so shocked by this, but I was. Subconsciously I think I was amazed that there had to be scholarships to encourage women to want to become pilots. Then I started to think, when have I ever come across someone that encouraged me to become a pilot? When was I ever asked if I wanted to be anything other than a nurse or teacher when I was a little girl?

After seeing this post, I began researching similar programs. There are many companies that offer scholarships to women who want to become pilots. While it doesn’t necessarily mean they offer many scholarships, they are still offering something. Additionally, I noticed a post online from Southwest in which many of their female employees were pictured in a video. Not only were the women stewardesses, they were officers! The fact that I am twenty years old and amazed by this was pretty cool. Not only did they employ women in these amazing jobs, here they were taking the time to commend them for their work.

One company, CAE, had an entire section of their website dedicated to “encouraging women to pursue their dreams as professional pilots.” This company really stood out to me because of the different programs, as well as scholarships they offered. Among the programs included mentoring, lists of participating airlines and cadet training programs.

What do you think of programs like this that encourage women to enter traditionally masculine fields? How do you feel about the scholarships offered to women? Are there enough? Did you have a similar reaction to these programs?


  1. I have never really given much thought to how few women pilots there are. I grew up riding airplanes at least twice a year and almost every time I exited the plane, the pilot would thank us for riding and send us on our way. Thinking back, I do not ever remember the pilot being a woman, however there were always an abundance of female flight attendants. After reading this article I decided to do a quick google image search of “Pilot” and nearly all of the images except a few here and there were of men. Having said this, I love that these companies are trying to promote diversity in the field of aviation and that they want to diversify and recruit women so much so that they are offering women scholarships to pursue to field. I think this is a great step in the right direction in encouraging women not only to enter traditionally masculine fields, but to also encourage them to lead in these fields as I see the pilot as the leader of the plane. Apart from the scholarships, I also love that these women in aviation are being singled out and recognized for their work at Southwest and that CAE has an entire section to encourage female representation, but what really stood out to me is the mentoring programs. I feel like mentoring programs are something that is really missing in organizations and I think it can serve as such a valuable tool for women as they tend to lack valuable mentors who are also women, especially in these male dominated fields. Overall, I think all of these efforts combined make for such a wonderful encouragement for women who might want to pursue this career path or who are already one of the select few in the field.

  2. I think it is wonderful to see organizations making it part of their mission to include a more diverse talent pool. Sometimes companies say they prioritize diversity, but when you look around, it is not apparent. It is encouraging to see organizations create programs that invite women into masculine-dominated fields, because it will help the organization in the long-run adapt to the current changes in society more easily, provide ideal representation of individuals of a different gender/class/race, and it takes away at least one barrier on women seeking those careers. When reading the CAE website, I liked how the flight training scholarship program emphasized the trainees having women aviator role models, and then they eventually become role models to future female aviators who enter the program later. This would establish the Leadership Pipeline that many companies are trying to develop. Yet, many organizations are failing to recruit women leaders by not offering them better incentives to take on those higher positions, such as a work-life balance or schedule flexibility. I definitely think that any woman should strive to go after her dream job, but it is important to stay true to her values. While obstacles to reaching your goal are visible or not, I think it is a part of character development in learning how to overcome situations that are challenging and reflect on your personal growth as a leader in reaching your goals. Your perspectives going through the program can help future generations of trainees navigate their career choices and interests too.

  3. From my memory, I don’t think that I have had a female pilot. This is kind of astonishing and I never really thought much of it. Programs like this I think are a step in the right direction. Encouraging women to enter this traditionally masculine field will hopefully increase the number of female pilots and begin to normalize, in the eyes of society, women leaders in a more traditionally masculine field. I think that offering scholarships to women is also a good thing. It gives them more incentive to enter the field. I also think something like this could receive backlash if there aren’t scholarships of some sort also available to men.

    I also think it is interesting that not only are women underrepresented as commercial pilots, the number of female pilots in the military is also nothing compared to the number of men. Based on all my research for my annotated bibliographies, data showed that women were significantly underrepresented as pilots. Companies like Southwest and CAE are taking the right steps to increase the diversity in this field and more companies should do so as well.

  4. Traditionally, it is always seen that men are pilots and women are flight attendants, so this shocks me as well. There is a large amount of underrepresentation in the aviation industry of women, so I think it is amazing that more scholarship are being offered to women to join the field and close the inequality gap between men and women. I cannot think of an instance when I had a female pilot either. If I did, I feel like I like assumed it was another flight attendant or at the most a co-pilot. It is natural for most to assume that women are working in supporting positions to men. I am glad that companies are working to break this stigma and support women. I would love to see the companies go further and reach out to also support minority women as I feel most of the pilots I have had are white males. It would be beneficial for other occupations that are typically masculine to begin doing this as well to lessen the inequality gap between men and women. I wonder if pay is equal between men and women in the aviation field, or if there is still a wage gap due to gender.

  5. I have never heard of these programs that offer women scholarships but I am no shocked. I think these programs are doing a commendable job trying to break gender roles (women as stewardess and men as pilots) and increase diversity in the people that they hire, gender wise. I feel like the scholarships these women are receiving may help women who have to juggle getting a career and having a family because sometimes financial reasons are the cause of people not doing what they actually want to do. However, I am a social work major, which is a female dominated field and I am not sure how I would feel if I found out a man was getting a scholarship to do the same thing that I was doing and the only criteria was that he was a man. I still think that we should encourage these programs so that the next generation can see woman as pilots when they travel and can start following their dreams rather than being forced into a gender role like a lot of people our age may have been. In addition, the add that Mackenzie saw is important. it is hard to know you can be something or even know the opportunity is open to you if you never see someone like yourself in that position. The add showing woman as pilots tell little girls that this is an option for them. I would encourage other male dominated fields to make adds similar to the one she saw.

  6. I love that there are airline companies encouraging women to become pilots. Typically, we do not see a lot of female pilots on our planes and over the years I have noticed this more. Why are there so many female stewardesses but not as many female pilots? I think our culture has failed to express to young women that they can do anything their hearts desire.

    One of my best friends wants to become a pilot and was asking me the other day if I think she could do it. My immediate reaction was of course she can do it! She is intelligent, clever, and sharp-minded so I know she is capable of flying an airplane. But just like you said, were these the messages she was hearing as a young girl? When I was little, was I encouraged to pursue more feminine or masculine careers? I remember I always played “mom” in any play scenario I had with my friends and I always had lots of kids, but not necessarily a career. Does this small behavior point to something larger? I think perhaps things are changing for young women, but at one point they were only being encouraged to pursue jobs that are considered more “feminine”.

    I looked up some examples of scholarships and there is a Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship that is given to women who want to pursue a degree in computer science. There is also a Google Scholars Program for those women to help them in their careers by providing various resources. Anita Borg was apparently a well-known woman who contributed a lot to technology development and this scholarship is meant to honor her devotion. I think it is incredible that certain companies are taking active steps toward more equality of gender in their workforce. Additionally, companies are encouraging women to follow their dreams, even if these dreams do not include what may be stereotypical of a woman. I love that because that means my future daughters will be able to chase their dreams and they can get financial help to do so!

    Similar to quotas, I think companies should be required to implement policies and programs that create more space for women at the table. I think by not encouraging women in certain careers, the workforce is missing out on a lot of talent in women.

    Here is the link with information about the scholarship:

  7. I have to agree with you that female pilots is really a subject I am not super familiar with, and definitely one I have never talked about or been asked about. Truthfully, I had never heard of any of these programs before either, but I do really like the sound of them. I think it is really admirable for companies, of all occupations, are trying their best to encourage women to enter into these fields. Women shouldn’t feel discouraged from applying to a job because it is typically ‘masculine,’ such as something like being a pilot. I think these programs are really cool, but hopefully they do not continue forever. It is a great idea to have something like this in place, but hopefully if it increases numbers, programs like this will no longer have to exist. I am happy they exist today, because we need them. I feel as though there probably aren’t enough of these programs, because I had never heard of something like this before. To be fair, I don’t know much about them, but I think if they were more common then I probably would have heard of at least one. I do think I have a similar reaction, because I am amazed and impressed by these programs, and I hope they are really working to encourage women to enter these fields.

  8. I think that is certainly an interesting discovery, and I am glad that these programs exist to encourage more women to become pilots. I remember seeing an article in 2019 about an all-female flight crew that took 120 girls to NASA to promote more diversity in aviation (link here: Having female pilots in general is so rare that it is often announced on the flight, as the stereotype is that men will be the pilots and women the flight attendants. The article points out that in 2017, only 7% of U.S. pilots were female, so I definitely think that programs and scholarships like this will help continue to bridge that gap.

    It can be challenging for women to pursue more male-dominated or stereotypically male careers, especially if they belong to a culture that frowns upon it. Scholarships can be very encouraging, but they also need to be disseminated and young women need to be made aware so that they can apply for them. A lot of companies have recently pressed for more diversity initiatives, so hopefully that means that young girls and women around the U.S. and the world will have more opportunities and more images to motivate and inspire them. Although more work certainly needs to be done, this is a good start.

  9. I think these programs overall are really awesome and definitely useful in their purpose since we do need to encourage women to enter more masculine fields. We certainly do need to make it easier for women to enter these fields and providing scholarships is a easy and convenient way to do it. However, I would hope that these companies are also making it easier in the process of promotion and hiring in general not simply encouraging with funds and then leaving the rest as is with women still having to fight harder than men to be at the top.

    For the most part, I like them because it is the unfortunate truth that most pure merit scholarships are given to men. However, it does put a damper on the achievement that they are only for women, implying that the winner maybe didn’t have enough merit to achieve it if against men as well. I do think that there could be more, especially in higher education, and my reaction to this program was pretty much the same. It is surprising and awesome to know that they exist.

  10. i think there should be more programs that encourage participation in masculine dominated fields although it could be intimidating. To flip it in my terms because i am a male, if i were encouraged to enter a feminine dominated field i would be afraid of being called out and “demasculinized” by other men. For example, in middle school the home economics class was taken mainly by girls and the boys would make fun of the other boys who took the class. Cooking, sewing, and other house chores were believed to be done by females. When it comes to entering fields that your identity isn’t the majority of, i believe there is a sense of not feeling accepted by the dominating group and or being exiled by others who share your identity. There are people who don’t care what others think, for example the boys who took economics, and having that mindset helps diminish those perceptions. To stay on the home economics example, the more boys who took the class the less boys there are to laugh at them. As we increase these programs that encourage women to enter masculine dominated fields there will be less men that view them as incapable and accept them for their abilities regardless of gender.

  11. I think that is amazing at that there should be more programs like this that encourage women to enter predominantly male-dominated fields. Like others have mentioned above, I do not really recall ever having a female pilot when flying on a plane. I am unsure if this is due to mostly seeing the flight attendants when flying or if it is because I have never had one. Therefore I think that it is amazing to hear about programs that are going about and trying to change that. That being said, on the same account, when I was flying to Scotland over the summer, all three of the flight attendants on my flight were male. For me, having one male flight attendant is interesting but for all of them to be male I thought was amazing, as this is traditionally seen as a female-dominated field. As stated in the comment above I think that it would also be interesting to see this phenomenon flipped for men trying to pursue career in predominantly female fields.

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