I admit that I am an aviation addict. I can tell you everything there is about the airspace around Las Vegas. I could identify a plane from a nautical mile away. I even got my pilot’s license before my drivers license. However there has something that has bothering me about the world of aviation, its masculinity.
From its inception, aviation has been a male dominated field. From men risking their lives on dangerous experimental aircraft, men working hard to get those flying machines to work while their wives did the housework, and fighter pilots fighting for their convictions and coming home to their fairytale princess. Sadly for all these masculine traits, women are seen as “tools and prizes” to be won. It’s okay to turn them into Pin Ups and treat them as second class citizens apparently. Sometimes women try to get in aviation get abused for being different. I even left for being abused.
Women at the airport are a surprise to some. We think if that a woman loves aviation, it’s because of a man in their life. If they fly, they are sexualised. If they are a mechanic, they are some sort of freak. My response is that there are men that are in aviation because of the women in their lives, men can be sexualised just as much, and men in “women’s work” is not considered freaky at all.
Now I’m not saying all of the aviation community does that, but some do. They have to be the loudest voice in the room about it too and they ruin aviation’s image for all of us. Those who do are secretly uncomfortable with a woman in the cockpit who has the same rights and has the same value as they do. It’s a hell of a privilege to have. Sadly many people don’t care because it doesn’t affect them so it’s not their problem or they “can’t relate.”
In a perfect world nobody would care about the gender or sexual orientation of the pilot, engineer, or mechanic as long as the job gets done right. For better or worse, it will. Growing up a boy I got the term “getting beaten by a girl” drilled into my head, because as a child, threats to masculinity were the social norm. Being “beaten by a girl” was seen as weak. In reality people do care.
We need to do better. We need to celebrate women and the LBGTQIA+ community in aviation more. We need to show children that their gender does not define what job they will have in the world of aviation. Someone has to try to bridge the gender divide. If I’m the only one so be it. Just know that I will fight with all my heart and soul until I die. I don’t want anyone to feel the pain I felt for being different. It won’t be easy but it’s worth a try. If I can change the world for even just one person, it would mean the world to me and I would know I won the battle.