Monday, February 15, 2010

All Female Air-Crews

Up until the 1900s, women weren't allowed to do much of anything for fear they'd get the vapors. Of course this was ensured because of fashion, where they'd wear whale-bone corset so tight that they could barely breathe, which is why once they made it upstairs they'd have to lie on a fainting couch for a while to get their breath (as made famous in The Pirates of the Caribbean and Lady Elizabeth Swan, eh?)

Then there came advice that women did need to be phsyically active. But they mustn't run or it would harm their reproductive organs and prevent them from fulfilling their primary purpose which was to have babies. SO the game of six-woman basketball developed, where there'd be three players in the front court for offense, and three players in the back court for defense. I think this version of the game wasn't phased out until the 1960s.

Women wanted to get into the marathon, but were refused for the same reason.

But, women persevered (against both the male establishment and the female establishment of the time as well!) and in 1910 in France, Raymonde de Laroche earned her pilot's license. During WWII, the WASP flew planes every day for a year and more...and no one worried about their periods!

Which is why I was rather shocked to find that as late as 1999, crew schedulers didn't want to assign all women-crews, even when it happened "naturallY", for fear that one of the woman might be having her "time of the month" and go berserk on the plane, apparently.

I found this page when I was searchign for something else.

It has come to my attention that one of the C-130 flying units had an interesting decision recently. As the schedulers of the different departments sent names to the central scheduler, it became apparent that a particular mission was to be flown by a crew of women. All five crew positions would have been female. The commander chose to not authorize this roster, and requested that a male replace one of the women. His rationale, as I am told, is that had the crew become involved in a "mishap", the investigation might have asked him why he authorized an "all-female" crew, even though each were current and qualified in their respective positions.

This begs me to ask, are any other flying organizations concerned about an "all-female" flight crew? Does this ever happen, without any intrepedation?

Has there been any research into the "effectiveness and efficiency" of an all-female crew, compared to the traditional all-male, compared to a mixed-gender crew?


The answers make for intersting reading. Check them out here: http://www.crm-devel.org/maillist/summary/allfem.htm.

Even today, women and minorities have yet to have achieved full equality in the minds of the populace for one reason. If a male pilot crashes a plane, it's "Ah, too bad, he must have been a bad pilot." But if a woman, or a black or other minority crashes the plane, it's "Ah, this proves women (or blacks) can't fly.

I'm reminded of the reaction of Danica Patrick's crash in the race a couple of days ago. Comments on CBSSportline were all about, "See, this proves women shouldn't be race car drivers!" I just wanted to slap those neanderthals!

(Having said that, I'm not too thrilled with Patrick and her sexist commericals for GoDaddy, but that's a rant for another time.)

2 comments:

roseduncan said...

Hey, just found your blog. I'm writing a novel with Amelia Earhart in it and have been doing tons of research which makes it so clear how much sexism there is in this business, or rather the business of flying. I love the idea that an all female crew might somehow go crazy because it was their time of the month. At least with us it only happens once a month, and not on a daily basis, just kidding.

Susan said...

Hi, I have flown several times in my career as a Captain for a major airline in the U S with female co pilots .. I found it most distracting from the passengers. We kept the cockpit door shut after the flight so that the passengers would get off in a Tiimely manner and not stop to look and ask questions.
We needed to get our post flight duties done and run to our next flight!

Before I flew with an all female crew ... Male pilots would often remark when we made our preflight introductions.. I have never flown with a woman before.

I would always say.. I haven't either. Somehow that always made them feel better! Like we were in the same clb or something..

After the flight they could not say that any more and I always wanted to leave a good impression for their first time.. For many it would be the only time flying with the other gender.

I knew I had help melt away their fears when they ran out of questions and started talking about the same subects they taked to their male counterparts about..

I never purposefully sceduled an all female crew like some have I. The past.. I will say it was great fun and would love to have more flights with others women pilots.