Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research






This qualitative phenomenological study sought to explain what it is like to be a gender minority in the aviation industry to bring awareness of the personal experiences lived by women in aviation to identify if the experiences of gender minorities in aviation contribute to the lower number of women in aviation. This research sought to bridge the existing gap in the literature related to women in aviation by seeking the personal perceptions and experiences of 10 women in aviation to understand what it’s like to be a gender minority (female) in aviation, to help improve the gender imbalance in the aviation industry. Participants from the study included 10 female aviation professionals from various careers: Air Ambulance Pilot, First Officer for International Cargo Carrier, US Commercial Airline Captain, Chief Executive Officer for major airport, licensed A&P mechanic at major US commercial carrier, FAA Certified Air Traffic Controller, College Professor of Aviation, Military Pilot, Corporate Pilot, and Flight Attendant. Findings from in-depth interviews helped illustrate participants experiences regarding what it is like to be a minority in the aviation industry. In the personal interviews, common themes emerged about support and barriers these women faced during their careers in aviation, as well as during their school, training, and careers. The common themes that emerged from the overall findings were participants always feeling outnumbered, lack of career advancement and opportunities regardless of qualifications, the challenges associated with motherhood/lifestyle with a career in aviation, and the existence of gender barriers and bias in aviation. Participants gave personal comments summarizing personality traits women must possess to be successful in the aviation industry, a self-explanation of what it is like to be a gender minority in the aviation industry, and their suggestions on how to better diversify the aviation industry. The findings of this study are important for the aviation industry as its aging workforce retires, the demand for air travel increases, and as the emphasis on diversity and the role of minorities rise. These findings seek to bring awareness to issues faced by minority females in aviation that can used by all stakeholders to help achieve gender parity in the aviation industry in the future.



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