From AINOnline: AIN Blog: The Bizav Boys' Club
In his recent Business Jet Traveler interview with Elite Aviation owner Chris Holifield,
journalist Matt Thurber notes that “you don’t see a lot of women-owned
aviation businesses.” Bizav, he says, is “a boys’ club.”
It sure is, and so is the rest of the aviation world.
Granted, female pilots have become more common, and there’s even a magazine called Aviation for Women. But can you imagine a periodical called Aviation for Men?
The title sounds ridiculous. Women in aviation, on the other hand, are
still enough of a novelty to merit a dedicated publication.
Just look around. The CEOs of the NBAA, the
General Aviation Manufacturers Association and National Air
Transportation Association are all male. The heads of Argus, Wyvern and
the Flight Safety Foundation are all male. The CEOs of the six major
fractional-jet-share providers are all male. Virtually all the leading
bizav consultants are male. The CEOs of Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier,
Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Hawker Beechcraft, Piaggio Aero
and Pilatus are all male.
Are you beginning to detect a pattern?
Business Jet Traveler magazine, which I edit, mirrors the
aviation community and the overall society. We feature women on our
cover and in our pages every chance we get, but we don’t get enough
chances. We have interviewed some prominent women, such as financial
adviser Suze Orman and former New Jersey governor Christie Whitman and, as noted above, we recently ran a Q&A with Elite Aviation’s Holifield.
But the vast majority of our covers and interview subjects have
featured men. Our audience is predominantly male, too, and so are our
company’s CEO, COO, EVP,
publisher, production/manufacturing manager, editor-in-chief, magazine
and online editors and creative director, though we do have a few women
in senior-level positions.
I know that many societal factors contribute to this imbalance and
that it isn’t necessarily a reflection on the practices of our company
or any of the others I’ve mentioned. But that doesn’t make the situation
The good news is that attitudes and laws are changing, albeit too
slowly. My 13-year-old daughter can barely believe it when I tell her
this, but in my admittedly not-too-short lifetime, there was a period
when employers could legally specify in an ad whether they sought to
hire a man or a woman. I still remember the “Help Wanted–Male” notices
in The New York Times, which would announce positions for
attorneys, corporate executives and other professionals, and the “Help
Wanted–Female” listings, which would say things like, “Needed–Gal
Friday. Must be able to type 55 wpm.” This continued for nearly a decade
after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed job discrimination
based on race.
That this mistreatment of women persisted should surprise no one who
has paid attention to history. While blacks often had to fight for the
right to vote until the Civil Rights Act of 1965, they at least earned
that right officially way back in 1870, with the 15th Amendment to the
Constitution, which said that the right to vote could not be denied
based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” But that
amendment made no mention of gender. Women had to wait until 1920 and
the 19th Amendment to gain the right to vote.
As I’ve said, there’s no question that we’ve witnessed progress in
recent years. More and more women now occupy top slots at corporations,
for example, and in 2008 a woman had a serious shot at the presidency
for the first time. And there are now more women in aviation than there
were a few decades ago.
But it’s way too soon to celebrate. Men still hold the vast majority
of senior executive positions, women still typically earn less than men
for the same jobs and some people still wouldn’t vote for a female
presidential candidate. Moreover, the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment—which
simply stated that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of
sex”—never became law because proponents failed to find 38 states
willing to ratify it by the 1982 deadline. While it has been
reintroduced in Congress in every session since then, it has never
garnered enough votes to allow the ratification process to restart. In
2010, meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia stated his view
that the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment,
which ostensibly provides equal protection to all people under the law,
does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.
Here’s hoping different views will soon prevail and that we’ll
someday live in a world with many female pilots and aviation CEOs—not to
mention female U.S. presidents. Until we do,
millions of women will be shortchanged and both men and women will miss
out on the benefits of their untapped capabilities.