Am I being treated differently because I am a female pilot? Or did I ever had to prove myself because I am a girl in a men’s world? As a female airline pilot, I will share my thoughts and experience regarding this subject. For all the girls out there, keep reading!
What I did before I became a female pilot
At the age of 16 I entered the fourth year of high school. During that year you have to choose a career path. For some it’s easy and clear, for me, it wasn’t. I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do when I grew up so I decided to go for the safest option, not the easiest. In the Netherlands they call this curriculum “Nature & Technique”. Science, Physics & Mathematics are just some of the subjects within this “package”. I was also taught the English language, you should too! Here’s why.
Why I didn’t consider a pilot job
Boys are more likely to spend their afternoon watching airplanes while girls prefer to go shopping with their mom’s… At least I did. I guess girls are just less likely to get exposed to aviation. I never thought about becoming a pilot for example. When I was 15 years old, I did not think outside the box and only considered professions which were safe and generally accepted by the society. I know way better now haha…
What makes me so special?
Why on earth would I be able to become an airline pilot? There are so many guys out there that basically grew up at airports. Spending their free time reading aviation magazines. Soaring through the skies in a glider on Sundays. What chance do I have compared to them? I never even considered to become a female pilot. I had no background knowledge and no relative or friend that could tell me more about the profession. So, I had to do my own research and this is actually how I became interested in aviation.
My passion for flying began right at that moment. I visited flight schools and simply knew that this was going to be it, this was going to be my thing… and I was right! 😉 Luckily, my parents always supported me, they were happy to see I finally found something which I was enthusiastic about. The excitement from their side decreased, a bit, when I told them about the expenses, the required loan and the risks… You can read more about the costs of a flight school here.
Oh look, a flight attendant!
I have never had a negative experience with passengers. Most of the time they are surprised (in a positive way) when they see that I am sitting in the front. Passengers regularly ask me how old I am, if their daughters can come to view the cockpit and I even had one flight during which our passengers were cheering my name after the landing. I guess that happened because I am a girl haha.
While walking through the airport in uniform, I hear people say ‘Oh look another flight attendant’, while others whisper ‘look a female pilot!’. In Europe female pilots are becoming more common, it’s very normal for women to fly. However, I am aware that in some parts of the world it is less common, unfortunately. Don’t let that stop you though!
Shouldn’t you be cleaning the house?
Can you actually fly an airplane? Can you land an airplane? Do you work as an airline pilot?! I had to prove myself a couple of times in the past, especially towards people outside the aviation industry. I also received comments like, so tell me about your job as a flight attendant or shouldn’t you be cleaning the house? Nothing I couldn’t handle or felt bad about. I just feel it is worth mentioning that not everyone is as open minded as you would expect nowadays. It shows that being a female pilot is still a bit special.
Working in a men’s world
Working with my male colleagues is absolutely amazing. The captains I fly with are all incredibly kind and most of them I actually consider to be my friends. Of course there are dirty jokes now and then, chats about women, beer and all that. I am definitely not afraid to laugh about it and sometimes I even make it worse 🙂 By flying with men I developed myself further. I think women and men can learn from each other in the way they communicate.
Everything is possible, as long as you are willing to work for it!
Through my Youtube Channel, Instagram account and website I try to show the world that women can do and achieve whatever they want to achieve. You don’t need to look or act like a guy in order to become an airline pilot. Definitely don’t listen to people that tell you there’s a small chance that you will achieve your goal, no one needs that negativity in their lives. I want to stress that men & women have equal chances in a modern society. I am grateful everyday for being able to sit in that right seat. Something you can accomplish as well. Start by finding yourself a good flight school, good luck!