Underqualified Females

Dear Straight White Male Regional Airline Captain,

Look, I get it. You’ve been in the left seat for a while now at a regional airline, and you’re actively pursuing a mainline gig. It’s tough out there— your apps have been out, you’ve crossed every I and dotted every T (wait, scratch that, reverse it). But you haven’t gotten the call yet.

So, you do what every pilot feels natural: complain. And I understand your frustrations. You’re missing out on a multi-million dollar career opportunity, and your seniority shrivels as the clock ticks. But I’m rooting for you!

However, your pity party comes to a halt once you utter those vicious words, “I guess I’m not getting an interview, because I’m not a chick.” Over the past few trips I’ve worked, I’ve heard captains bellyache about “underqualified females” getting jobs at major airlines. I’m going to need for you to take a seat. Many seats, actually, because I’m about to read you your rights.

Five percent. Only five percent of pilots are women— and only four percent adorn various stripes in the airline flight deck. That is a staggeringly low ratio for such a noble profession. And while I’m in shock and awe over how many girls aren’t accompanying me in my office, let me point out a certain perspective.

Captain Regional, you’re worried about that 4%? You’re competing against an incredible 96% of individuals who share your gender. You’re grasping for straws at this point.

Well, majors are just trying to get more women on line.

And? What if they are? A loose count of recent classes at any given major indicates that roughly 10% of new hires are female. That is still, in my opinion, too low. Diversification of the workforce leads to profitability, frankly. Furthermore, it’s an airline’s prerogative on whom they hire. They do not owe you an explanation, despite your presumptions. They also don’t owe you a job for any given years of experience or affiliation with their regional operations.

All I’m saying is that there are a lot of guys out there with more credentials.

Hold on. You mean to tell me that major airlines are hiring individuals with less than their posted minimums? Pfft. Ok. And, by that logic, are you overqualified for the position? If that’s the case, why do you even want to work for a major airline? You’re sitting pretty right now with your boisterous attitude.

Female aviators work as hard, if not more, than the rest of the flying population, because they have to put up with more bullshit than normal. No one questions whether you’re actually a pilot or your flying ability. They don’t joke about how you should stay in the kitchen or your sandwich making abilities. Aviatrices are formidable professionals who band together and support each other purely for the love of flying and camaraderie.

As my mentor once told me, “Lick your wounds, and move on.” Oh, by the way, SHE’S a lady pilot. What are you doing to improve yourself? What steps have you taken to make yourself more marketable? Because I’m willing to bet that you’ve attended the Women in Aviation conference— leeching benefits of a conference for people whom you claim to have stolen your job.


You’re just mad it ain’t you.



3 thoughts on “Underqualified Females

  1. Kimberley Lowe

    Well said. I heard all this when we were at the 1%, pretty pathetic whine when you can’t even compete with 99% of your own gender. However back then female pilots were almost never seen at Regionals. Now our numbers are strong at the Regional Airlines. Unqualified pilots are found in both genders and hopefully not at major airlines, however unqualified often does not refer to hours on a resume but attitude, aptitude, decision making skills and command ability. Having decent social skills and no chip on shoulder is helpful as well.

  2. Stacy Sheard

    My god man – I loved reading this….I loved it more when I discovered a man had written it. Your words fall together so beautifully…
    From somewhere beneath the 4%, and in the Helicopter Industry – hope to meet you at WAI!

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