I'm a huge fan of doing random Google Image searches. So while I was contemplating this post, I thought I'd do a search for "female pilot".
One of the first few pictures I found was this beauty:
This picture is now my desktop background, and I wish I could find a print of it and get it framed and stuck on my wall. I then scrolled down the page a little way and found this gem...
Sigh. This is the sort of thing that makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I suppose it's no worse than all of the ridiculous female driver jokes, but it really fits what seems to be my theme of the week. Females in aviation who aren't flight attendants are pretty thin on the ground and thin in the air. In my class at the college there are two girls, and that's a big number, considering one of the previous classes had almost thirty students and only one girl.
The OFC has always been very welcoming to me, and for the most part it certainly seems like women are accepted. The comfortable atmosphere and general friendliness is something I love most about my flying club. I have endured a bit of good-natured teasing from my classmates which is, for the most part, no big deal. However, I have also encountered some more surprising and backwards attitudes. For example; on our first day of classes one other student told me that every time I fly I could stick a pink star on the tail of the plane, and then in the same conversation asked me to hem his pants. Not too bad at all really, mostly just the kind of thing you roll your eyes at and laugh a bit. Perhaps suggest it was time for the mama's boy to cut the apron strings. But then I've also had few sincere "What, you train here?!" comments followed by considerable laughter, AND have been told by another student that he would be nice to me when he was the Captain and I was still the flight attendant.
I had a discussion with another student a week or so on the subject of families. The student was surprised to learn that I hope to have a family one day, but continue to be a pilot. I'm not sure if he thought I intended this to be a hobby or not, but he seemed to think it a tall order to hope that I may one day find a man who would be happy for me to continue in my dream career, despite having the family I also hope for. However when I turned the question on him, he didn't seem to find it at all strange that he should one day have a wife to stay at home with his children while he travels the world.
Many things are noticeably geared towards men. Like our uniforms, for example. I bought a selection of the "ladies" size of the shirts, and they STILL made me look like I was wearing a sack. I had to have them taken in so I wouldn't look quite so ridiculous.
Every so often, even the Instructors will drop in the odd boys club kind of joke. Not two days ago we were learning about the VOR in ground school and the instructor presented us with a mnemonic. "TICS". It stands for "Tune in the VOR code, Identify the morse code, Check the VOR, and Select a heading.".
'Except I use test instead of check,' said the instructor. "Haha, see what I did there?"
My response was to start singing the chorus of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World", which had been stuck in my head and seemed fitting.
Things like that aren't necessarily harmful, but they do represent outdated ideals. I'm not one to go on a crazed feminist rant and denounce men as pigs who just want to keep women down. I'm a girly girl. I almost always have my nails painted, I like for my hair to look nice, and My Instructor has laughed at me a million times for forgetting to take out my earrings before putting on my headset. (I learned my lesson when once in my pre-uniform days I had to ask him to keep my hoops in his pocket because I didn't have anywhere else to put them. I've now restricted myself to studs on flying days).
The gist of it is that I can't help but draw attention to my feminine side, and I don't see anything wrong with that. If I were wimping out about the oil stain on my arm, or complaining about having to refuel my own aircraft then perhaps there would be a problem, but as long as I'm getting on with things, I don't see the issue in having painted nails and the like. I suppose I could try and be more of a tomboy, cut my hair short and never wear make-up, but I wouldn't be happy, so there's no point.
As I said, I'm no ranting feminist. I'd much prefer to distract them all with my feminine charms, and then surprise the hell out of them when I do well. I still remember being told that females in aviation have to be "twice as good to be equal". And I still have that burning desire to be three times as good to be better. Eat your heart out, boys.
Now the burning question is, do I buy a pilot headset with pink accents and really add fuel to the fire?