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Aviation Industry

Women in aviation and tourism: non-traditional career

Mayo 25, 2017

The objective is to present the subject of gender issues in the workplace of the aviation industry and tourism. More specifically, the article addresses the continuing gender imbalance by making some relevant issues and challenges that women face pursuing career in the male-dominated industry more visible. The article raises both theoretical and practical issues, endeavouring to address the imbalance of women pilots in this occupation. It is also hoped it will encourage young women to identify and overcome the barriers to becoming a civilian pilot.

Women have been flying since the beginning of the twentieth century (Corn, 1979; Stepanski, 2012) and flying commercially for over four decades. It is 2017 and today in the world of globalisation and technology, seems like women are perceived as being as powerful as men in most parts of the developed world. However, there is still a great imbalance in one of the most intensely competitive industries that has a huge impact on global and national economies.

Women continue to be underrepresented in a global industry that provides transportation and employment of people and goods internationally and domestically. In the industry, that plays a significant role in manufacturing, logistics, hospitality, supply chains, and tourism (Saner, 2014). Speaking about tourism, it has become a crucial process in world affairs, generating income and profits for private companies, various businesses and governments, creating both well-payed careers and exploitive jobs, and alluring millions of people to visit other parts of the globe.

Tourism has become big business and the concept is very gendered. Gendered history shows that femininity referred to sticking close to home, and masculinity, has been defined as passport for travel. Some women, though, may have inadvertently reinforced the patriarchal link between unrespectable womanhood and geographical mobility with their own gestures of bold disobedience using bumper sticker on well-traveled vans in the 1980s: “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere” (Enloe, 2014; Douglas, 2004). Furthermore, a patriarchal version of nationalist pride for country’s beautiful women can pour fuel onto these “international beauty competitions” among countries and companies (Germain, 2012). Tempting people to spend money on traveling to particular countries, promoting tourism and willing to meet the expectations of foreigners by using women’s beauty and bodies. Business people know that a “tourist” can take multiple forms. Subsequently, it brings us to sex trafficking. Investigating developed sex tourism – men traveling to Thailand, to Cambodia, to Cuba, to Ukraine, to the Dominican Republic. One should also ask how voluntary, intimidated or coerced are the women in sexualised commerce and pay attention to terms like sex workers, trafficked women, sex slaves, and women in prostitution, which can confuse anyone who hasn’t done detailed research (Chin, 2013; Barry, 2007).

From the very beginning, tourism has been a powerful drive for global integration and formula for development. The question is where do women stand in this overwhelmingly profitable industry? When was the last time that you heard “this is your captain speaking” from a female voice? To answer this simple question many would be racking their brains. The reason for it is that there really are not that many women pilots (Anderson, 2014). Most of the people remember women as flight attendants also known as stewardesses, air hostesses, or cabin attendants that are employed by airlines to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard commercial flights, on select business jet aircraft, and on some military aircraft (Grossman, 2010). Today hundreds of women are hired to work as service personnel by different airlines but not as pilots. What we see today are masculinized businesses with feminization of airline cabin crews, which is not perceived as simply oppressive by most of the women hired to be flight attendants (Colgan and Tomlinson, 1996). Enloe (2014, p. 66) claims that “many of these women saw their employment as comfortably meshed with respectable femininity and as opening doors for paid careers and global travel”. However, there have been two radical changes for many women working as part of the cabin crew: the aggravation of their in-flight working conditions and the growing number of male executives who attempted to sexualize stewardesses and their services for the sake of corporate mass marketing (Enloe, 2014)…

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