Tuesday, March 08, 2016

European Airlines Lead on Gender Equality

Since today is International Women's Day, a celebration that originated in the Soviet Union and is still very popular in Russia, several European airlines are marking the day by sending all or almost all female crews on some of their transAtlantic flights--Swiss, Brussels, Lufthansa, Austrian are among them.

The last time I flew back from Europe it was on Air France http://www.airfrance.com and there was a female captain, the first time I had ever experienced this to my knowledge. Of course, women have been flying almost since the dawn of aviation and have set records, such as Beryl Markham being the first person to fly the Atlantic non-stop east to west. They have also flown in combat and continue to do so--in World War II a Soviet squadron of women known as the Night Witches was greatly feared by German aviators..

However, they have had difficulty making inroads into commercial aviation in large numbers in North America. Part of that may be because they are less likely to serve in the military, where a lot of pilots in this part of the world receive their training.

In any case, it is good to see that some European airlines at least have enough female pilots that they can field all-female crews. If gender equality is important to you, it could be something to consider the next time you fly internationally.

Since I wrote this a little while ago, I have seen that at least two airlines in North America, Air Canada and Southwest, also had flights today with only female crew. However, Lufthansa http://www.lufthansa.com has more than 100 female captains, so the Europeans still seem to be quite a bit ahead.

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