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Women of the air October 18, 2008

Posted by supersonicswan in Swan Song.
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Yesterday I spent most of my day among females which is slightly uncommon an experience.

The one-day event was split up in three sessions – aeronautical & space perspective, hands-on and workshops (I didn’t have the pleasure of staying so long). With many passionate speakers (Mary Frost, Head of Fuel Control & Gauging Dept. at Airbus UK; Capt. Ellen Burrige of BA or Flt Lt Charlotte Fenn, Junior Engineering Officer of The Red Arrows to name a few) the day was really enjoyable. It is always building to hear stories of people that’ve made it.

However, put the solidarity of ova aside, I have my own concerns about that initiative.

As a regular guest of Society’s events it struck me that one actually has to organize a special get-together to attract the female part of the industry in. More usually you can get the wrong idea of elderly white male engineers being the alfa and omega of the sector. The Society is out there and warmly welcomes women but…they need special invitations to pop in.

Secondly, there was a lot of pressure on how to encourage women into aviation/aerospace. Cause it’s males all around and the subject is not girly at all, etc. All of the speakers claimed they never came across explicit sexism – just a silly men’s talk. None of them looked at their achievements as something worth being called extraordinary. I got the impression that they simply had clear objectives, accepted the level of challenge ahead of them and took the risk.

A few mentioned the so-called positive discrimination. Barely anyone wants it!!! The reason is, that women don’t want to be in only for the very sake of doing that but because they are skilled. Just as good as men are (or sometimes much better chiefly owing to their ‘female’ values).

And the most important observation at the end which probably explains a big chunk of the problem. Around hundred ladies were present at the meeting. And only one gentleman – the Society’s Chairman. Now, a couple of questions:

1. Are the males ignoring us and think that the problem (low female participation in the aviation/aerospace industry) is non-existent?

2. Are we making fools of ourselves by not coming to mixed events, separating ourselves and than complaining about it?

Might be that I’m idealistic but I do believe that if you want you will achieve (deliver would fit in here perfectly, heh). And if you want to help the others into it, just make yourself visible enough.

Don’t hide Ladies!

Stay in touch with the others and frequent the general events so the poor of men can get used to us.