Month: December 2010

Sex and Piloting

On a flight just before Christmas, my pilot was a woman. I had never thought about sexism in the airline industry – but I instantly realised that it must be an issue because of how unfamiliar the words “this is your captain speaking” over the intercom in a female voice sounded. In fact the issue is a serious one. A little research reveals that the number of women pilots in commercial airlines is about 7,000 out of 115,ooo total according to good estimates (~6%), or about 4,000 out of 130,000 according to bad ones (~3%). These are terrible figures. There can’t be many industries with such a vast gender gap, especially among ones where no one would argue that women are inherently less qualified (whether there are any jobs for which this is genuinely the case is itself doubtful). The numbers are worse when you look at women captains. My flight home from holiday – which, I might as well say, landed very smoothly despite an icy runway and thick fog – was helmed by one of only between 450 – 800 women pilots in the world!

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Walk Straight

Watch the way you walk, my boy
And straighten up your style.
A feeble posture may well foster
Talk about you child.

First of all you drop that smile
The muscles of your cheeks fall down;
You will not convince anyone
Unless you wear a frown. Continue reading

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