Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Albert Boquet, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nancy Parker, Ph.D.


Gender has been identified as one of the top three categories, along with race, and age that are subject to stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination (Fiske, 1998). With the emergence of women in stereotypical male domains, gender research has never been more important. The aviation community is a prime example of one such domain.

This study examined the presence of an existing perception that male pilots are more competent then female pilots. It suggested that there does not appear to be evidence that would explain why there should be a difference in this perception of competence. It also discussed social theories of gender and more specifically Bern's Gender Schema Theory in an attempt to explain why this perception does exist.

The purpose of this study was to look at the effect of the gender schematicity of the participants and the gender of the pilot in a given scenario on the perceived competence of the pilot. A 3 X 2 between subjects, fully factorial ANOVA strategy was utilized and revealed no significant results for the main effects of scenario gender or schematicity or the interaction effect on perception of pilot competence. This study adds to the field of gender research but does not provide support for the conclusion that male and female pilots may be perceived differently while in the same situation and displaying the identical level of skill and ability.