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Virgin Australia sets 50:50 gender target for pilot cadetships

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 4, 2018

Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia says it is aiming to have a equal number of male and female pilots in its pilot cadetship program as part of efforts to boost the number of female pilots in its ranks.
The airline group is planning for a 50:50 gender target as it opens applications for the 2019 intake, which will undertake its flying with Flight Training Adelaide in South Australia. There will be two ab initio courses, which is designed for those without any previous flying experience, starting in January and July 2019, Virgin Australia said on Friday.
Virgin Australia group executive for people Lucinda Gemmell said the the airline was encouraging more females to consider a career in aviation.
“Globally, just three per cent of pilots are women,” Gemmell said.
“Our previous pilot cadetships have had up to 50 per cent females so we’re confident we can reach this target this year. Aviation is an exciting industry and we can’t wait to welcome the next generation of Virgin Australia pilots when they commence their cadetship.”
Virgin Australia director of flight operations Stuart Aggs said the pilot cadets would live on campus and undertake a combination of ground school and flying modules during the 54-week course.
Upon successful completion of the course, they would graduate with a commercial pilot’s licence and a guaranteed position with Virgin Australia as first or second officers.

VIDEO: A look at the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program from Virgin Australia’s YouTube channel.
The push to broaden the potential pool of aviators for the next generation is reflected in the Boeing 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July 2017, which showed there is a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots, 648,000 airline maintenance technicians and 839,000 new cabin crew members around the world over the next two decades.
Boeing's 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)
Boeing’s 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)

Rob Sharp says more promotion of the “enjoyment” of being a pilot needed

Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp said recently pilot recruitment has been a “significant area of focus”.
“It’s been an interesting dynamic,” Sharp told delegates at the Routes Asia 2018 conference in Brisbane in March, in response to a question.
“We’ve been talking about it for about five years that I can recollect that as the Middle Eastern carriers and the Chinese carriers grow they are looking to secure pilots and they have been doing that.
“Also, there has been a dynamic as new aircraft types come in, pilots like the new toys and they go for those jobs and then there is a cascade of training that occurs.
“So it puts a lot of pressure on training organisations because you are effectively backfilling and then bringing in new pilots. For us, we ramped up our cadet program. It has been very, very successful.”
Sharp said the industry needed to communicate to high schools and universities about the advantages and “enjoyment” of being a pilot, noting the “newer generation is not necessarily seeing 40 years as a pilot as being attractive”.
Further, this type of activity was also needed to encourage more women to pursue a career in aviation.
“Our pilot ratio is also largely male,” Sharp said.
“We’ve got a growing portion that’s female but I personally believe that some activity in terms of promoting is something we need to also do with the females so that they come through.
“In fact we think our cadet program next year will have a 50:50 balance there in terms of gender, which is great.”
Sharp said the company had “invested heavily in our in-house training capabilities”.
“So you can flex the training if the demand is needed,” Sharp said.
“And our brand is very attractive. We can get a lot of people wanting to work for us and so we are fortunate in that that challenger brand and the legacy that is Virgin does attract people.
“We will obviously be leveraging that as part of the process of promoting our wares.”

Qantas targeting increased female pilot numbers through Nancy Bird Walton initiative

In February, Qantas said it planned establish a new pilot training academy with the capacity to train up to 500 pilots a year.
To be called the Qantas Group Pilot Academy, the school would open its doors in 2019 and be initially for direct entry cadets joining the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and QantasLink. A location was yet to be announced.
The academy would initially train about 100 pilots a year, which could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee for service basis depending on demand from other parts of the industry.

Qantas Second Officer Arika Maloney, RMIT Aviation Student Anna Garliss, Griffith Aviation Student Kate Richards, and QantasLink First Officer Nicholas Bevis in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)
Qantas pilots and aviation students in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)

As John Walton writes in his story “Bridging the Gap” in the May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation, Qantas is also keen, in the words of its chief executive Alan Joyce, to “up the ante with our female pilot intake”.
“Qantas Group commits to a 20 per cent intake of women in our 2018 cadet program and we will double that number over the next decade to reach gender parity, at intake, through our Nancy Bird Walton Initiative,” Joyce said at a Qantas-hosted Male Champions of Change Leaders’ Forum in Sydney in late 2017.
“This initiative will support girls and women on a merit-based path to a career as a Qantas Group pilot. We’ll target STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in schools, flying schools and cadet programs to achieve our aspiration.
“It is going to take a concerted effort but it’s time for a moonshot vision for gender equality.”

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Joyce said there were about 190 female pilots across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar. This represented about five per cent of all pilots at the airline group.
“We can’t dismiss this gap by saying that family commitments make a career as a pilot unsuitable for a woman,” Joyce said.
“Not when we know that our cabin crew have similar rosters and 68 per cent of our flight attendants are women.”
As Walton notes in his story, the task of attracting more women to typically male-dominated areas represented the greatest challenge facing Australia’s aviation industry as it looks to meet the demand for future years.
Further details on the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program are available on the airline’s website. Applications close on June 3 2018.
The May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation features a number of stories on women in aviation. It is on sale at newsstands now, or available for digital download via Zinio, Issuu and the Apple app store.

54 Comments

  • Colin

    says:

    So – It won’t necessarily be the best candidate to get each position vacancy.

  • Scott

    says:

    Great work Virgin, glad to see you set the bar at 50/50 and are out of the blocks first stating this.

  • James

    says:

    Wouldn’t want to be a guy applying for VA cadetship atm. A lot of good male candidates are gonna take a hit to get that 50/50 figure

  • Ben

    says:

    50:50 doesn’t mean reducing the number of males, just increase the number of females. That’s not rocket science.

  • John

    says:

    At the moment roughly 10% of pilots are female. Even if there’s an increase of up to 20% within the next few years women still make up a minority of pilots and a minority of cadetship applicants.
    Say if 20 people are selected for this program, and 20% of applicants are female, that means that to make it a 50-50 gender split between those selected for the program,( 10 females) they would have to bypass 40 males who scored higher in the selection process than the lowest ranked female who was chosen. Doesn’t seem fair at all, nor does it qualify as only selecting people on merit.
    The only way true gender equality can be achieved and merit truly becomes the only quality for selection, is if 50% of applicants are female, then we can be assured that the people selected are truly representative of the best.

  • Lechuga

    says:

    Sounds really stupid. By all accounts there’s a pilot shortage, don’t go 50/50, take the best you can get beforehand someone else does.
    This 50/50 gender thing is stupid. If you had 70/30 male to female and had the best possible you’re doing great, if you have 30/70 male to female with the best possible you’re still doing great. Ridiculous.

  • Lucas

    says:

    Unbelievable! the political correctness is getting out hand in this country…. what next, quotas to have a percentage of transgender pilots??
    I understand many years ago, women found it extremely difficult to get into the industry however times have changed and everyone now has a level playing field. Theses positions should go to the best candidates, gender is not a determining factor when it comes to flying an aircraft.
    I don’t see this level of pushing for gender equality in any other industry, the fact that a certain gender is attracted to a certain industry is just personal reference. The same reason why some industries are mainly dominated by females.
    As a professional pilot, I have flown with many talented women, who have worked their backsides to be where they are, just like most pilots. Bypassing more suitable candidates based only on gender, is demoralising for individuals, and the industry as a whole.

  • Adrian

    says:

    Sexism in the name of equality. Note how none of the photos are even 50/50??Quotas discriminate against people based on gender, Why not just hire the best people regardless of gender?? Your last magazine was just PC nonsense Australian Aviation, I might unsubscribe, Keep it about the planes!!! Not interested in a leftist political agenda, There is enough of that nonsense in regular media!!

  • Ash

    says:

    So they are basically going to end up with a significant proportion of their pilots dropping out in a few years on maternity leave when they could have hired males who would continue flying.
    I can’t wait for this madness to end.

  • Sam

    says:

    Gender discrimination

  • Greg

    says:

    If the airlines want to address gender imbalance, they should focus on helping women to get to the selection stage. Selection to enter the programme should then be free of gender bias. Discrimination against men is occurring more and more frequently. What is the gender ratio for flight attendants and is there a 50/50 quota there?

  • Ben II

    says:

    Agree with most of the above comments – this is madness
    @John in particular makes a very very good point. I work in a recruitment role. Any selection process that is not based on merit is simply not equitable and you are not going to get the best person for the job (be they male or female).
    If 50% of the applicants were female then the process has maybe some chance of working, but then if that’s the case you don’t have a problem in the first place. Even then though the merit of all candidates being split absolutely evenly between genders can’t be guaranteed. Any cohort of applicants can have varying levels of suitability for any role. To have a target based on gender you are never going to get the best people for the job. Especially when the genders aren’t equally represented in the initial applicant pool.
    This isn’t gender equality – it’s an attempt to arrive at a result on the basis of a non merit based selection methodology.
    This is actually bordering on social engineering which can lead to going down a very slippery slope.
    When will people accept any gender can be over or under represented, depending on the industry you’re looking at.
    I’m not sexist. If a female is the best person for the job, they should be offered it. However if you want true equality between genders, males have to also be given job offers based on merit. They shouldn’t be rated unsuitable for a position they are highly suitable for, on the simple basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Anyone who can’t see the flaws in this gender target is kidding themselves.
    I read my latest issue of AA magazine with interest: A special focus on women in aviation. This is fantastic, however I wonder in the interest of true equality, you may be running a special focus on men in aviation in a future issue?

  • David

    says:

    As a male dominated environment, yes change is required. Reading all the against comments above, all scribed my males, you all note archaic ideals. The fact that General Aviation operators I have seen are discriminatory on gender on a very regular basis. The whole concept of a ‘female’ pilot automatically puts them in the trash file.
    This opportunity to offer position to capable woman is a no brainer. Its time that people realise that on an operational perspective the ‘female’ resource is an untapped market for the future of flying. The woman I have flown with from my experience are far superior from their flying capabilities, CRM and generally inclusive.
    And this is the reason after 2 decades in the industry I happy to hear the boys club is being pushed a little out of its comfort zone. Still a long way to go.

  • Darren

    says:

    I don’t think its a good idea with this 50/50.
    Airlines should hire candidates for direct entry or cadetship purely on whether or not they meet or are above minimum requirements not whether they are male or female. PERIOD

  • Anonymous

    says:

    Its fantastic that airlines are trying to encourage women to pursue careers as pilots. In saying that, airline recruiters are ostracising male pilots, who make up the vast majority of their pool of candidates. I myself as a young aviator, feel that I may lose opportunities to join airlines based on the fact that I am male. It sounds bizarre! But the fact of the matter is that in ALL the recruitment campaigns for Australian airlines we see more women than men, and it seems like a male pilot is no longer as valuable. I know the airlines would detest this, however they NEED to communicate that male pilots are still valuable assets. It is very trendy at the moment to recruit female pilots… but the discussion point in the crew room and in the cockpit is that “If you want to get into an airline these days, you have to be female”. Its obviously a NONSENSE statement but the fact that people feel this way is enough to say that there is an issue!
    You know what the ironic part about it is too. The female pilots I do fly with comment on how they feel patronised by this campaign. They know they are as good as us and they don’t want to feel like they are getting special treatment. I admire female pilots but I don’t think airline recruiters do!

  • Richard

    says:

    I stay away from Qantas because I object to Mr Joyce forcing his opinions down my neck.
    Nevertheless, I want the best pilot flying the aeroplane and I don’t care if the pilot is male or female.
    If there is one skerrick of evidence that Virgin are putting pilots in the cockpit for any reason other than that pilot’s competence as a pilot, then back to Qantas for me.

  • Robert

    says:

    It appears that they are more than happy to push for more females into the more desirable jobs. What about airport ramp jobs? Are they trying to increase the number of females there? Or are they trying to increase the number of males who are flight attendants?
    I work in a male dominated industry and the few female workers we have are bloody excellent. And they aboubulely hate this massive push for gender targets.

  • David

    says:

    This is an absolute disgrace and embarrassment for virgin Australia and for equality in general. It diminishes the efforts and merit based achievements of all female pilots to date and introduces sexual discrimination in a bid to eradicate it – can anyone see the irony? If you don’t want sexual discrimination in the workplace, why mention male or female at all?! That is the only fair way forward.
    Absolute insanity and for anyone who supports it, are you really about equal opportunity or just biased and manipulated equal outcomes? If it’s the latter then you are discriminatory at heart and you probably don’t even know it.
    For shame.

  • GBRGB

    says:

    What a sad sad place we have moved to in this country. So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut , just ridiculous.

  • James

    says:

    @ GBRGB
    You hit the nail on the head. Well said. We need to promote this industry to both males and females. We are facing a shortage of people. Aircraft don’t care if a male or female is driving/maintaining it.
    Artificially solving this “problem” is utter stupidity.

  • Samual

    says:

    This is all very goo but I would prefer a policy of getting the best aircrew regards of gender.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @David – (First David – from 10:10 am today)
    You note it’s a male dominated industry. Some industries are male dominated and some are female dominated. If we’re going to apply a 50/50 gender recruitment rule for airlines, we may as well do it across the whole economy. This way you’d be looking at recruiting more males to nursing until it hits 50/50. Equally you’d be looking at more females in construction or defence until those industries hit 50/50. The list could go on, name your industry.
    As per my initial post that isn’t going to get the best people for the job, especially when the original pool of applicants is not weighted 50/50 to start with. @GBRGB says it best:
    ‘So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut, just ridiculous’
    Therein lies the problem and I agree, it is just ridiculous.
    If we want true equality and the best people for the job, the best qualified people, regardless of if they are male or female, should get the job. Gender should not be a factor.
    I’m an aviation enthusiast and don’t work in the industry. However as mentioned I work in a recruitment role. I actually work in a female dominated workplace. There’s only 2 other males in my immediate team. My line manager and general manager are both female as is the CEO of the organisation.
    @David You mention a ‘boys club’ in the aviation industry. I could just as easily mention a ‘girls club’ in my own workplace. Having said that, it doesn’t bother me. It’s a job, it pays the bills and the mortgage and enables me to be a frequent flyer – bonus 🙂
    I’m happy to hear you’ve been in the aviation industry for 2 decades and it appears from your post, you are a pilot. I sincerely wish you all the best throughout your career.and also sincerely hope that should you apply for a job in the future that you are offered that job on your own merits and hard work – not denied the job because you are male.
    Equally if there is a female who has an equal amount of merit and has put in the same amount of hard work, she should have just as much an opportunity of securing the same position.
    That is true equality – not quota systems based on gender. This kind of quota system is discrimination plain and simple. Some people may call it positive discrimination, but it’s still discrimination. Discrimination no matter what name you give it is not equality.

  • alan

    says:

    i note all this PC going on in australia at the detrimement of the best person for the job which most comments have suggested.
    there is no push to have a 50/50 ratio by the PCs for the not so glamorous jobs in aviation as throwing bags on the ramp and honey cart drivers on the ramp.
    very selective in the descrimination area of which jobs which seems ironic and no one mentions.
    the PC push is for the desirable jobs in airline management and pilots.
    and i suspect this is going on in all industries in australia and the defence forces.
    obviously there are very talented women who should be encoured at the same time as there very talented male colleagues..
    PC is a threat to the best person for the job.
    and why all this publicity/advertising to find applicants for pilots?
    any one who is enthusiastic and really wants to be a pilot knows exactly where he needs to go and what to do to become a pilot.
    enthusiasm should be part of the criteria.

  • Marc

    says:

    I can’t get a look-in for the Australian netball team.

  • Darren

    says:

    HA HA 🙂
    @Marc

  • David

    says:

    First time I’ve heard of political correctness being a requirement in the cockpit. I would have thought Branson’s overly progressive ideology would have been better in the front counter or cabin staff where it doesn’t really matter either way. I would much rather have a pilot who’s a competent qualified pilot than one that got there more because of their sexual identity.
    Oh well, I’ll just fly airlines that don’t make ludicrous, over-the-top virtue-signalling statements about who their pilots are.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Marc – that’s gold 🙂
    Come to think of it if you apply it to sporting teams, by this logic there should be equal representation between men and women in all sporting teams. Rather than separate men’s and women’s competitions. There might be a bit of an issue with teams where there are an odd number of players in the team: Rugby League is 13 players – it would have to be split 7/6 or dear one gender is going to be under represented. Rugby Union is 15 so would have to be split 8/7. Shock horror – what is going to be done about the inequality. AFL would be OK though – 9 players from each gender. I say this tongue in cheek of course, but it just goes to illustrate how absolutely ludicrous such targets are.
    To achieve absolute true ‘equality’ though – the above must take place. I don’t see the same targets being applied to the less glamours jobs though as others have said. Why isn’t there the same targets for ramp staff or engineers. Why isn’t there an outcry over the under representation of women amongst garbage collectors or labourers.
    Utter PC madness.

  • NJP

    says:

    Equality needs to exclude the potential for / perception of unconscious bias:
    The selection panel Should be made up of a 50:50 mix male & females and (to be politically correct) the first round of candidate selection should include a 50:50 mix of applicants. Then from that point on, only the best candidates move forwards, regardless of gender.
    Excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages along with the colour of someone’s skin or their choice of partner.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @NJP
    I have no problem with a selection panel having a 50/50 mix of males and females.
    I do have a problem with the first round candidate selection having 50/50 mix of applicants. If there are more overall applicants from one gender than another then you run the risk of excluding qualified candidates on the basis of their gender.
    I agree with you that excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages, This can also be said about skin colour, choice of partner etc. No problem there whatsoever.
    However excluding a perfectly qualified male candidate, simply because their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool, should also belong in the dark ages. Read the point that @ GBRGB made so well. This is nothing short of discrimination and just as bad as excluding someone because they are a woman, because they can have a baby because of skin colour etc.
    Truly equitable applicant selection, at whatever part of the process, should be based on the merit of that application and merit alone. Gender should not be a factor. If you start looking at targets or quotas for a process you risk excluding suitable candidates. Your selection of applicants should be based entirely on who the best person for the job is. Not on gender or any other factors.

  • Jo

    says:

    To Colin, Scott, James, Ben, John, Lechuga, Lucas, Adrian, Ash, Sam, Greg, Ben II, David, Darren, Richard, Robert, David, GBRGB, Samual, Alan……
    You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem.
    No where in the Article did Virgin Australia so it was going to take 50% woman no matter what their skills, it says they are ‘Aiming’ for a 50% female intake. QANTAS said they are committing to 20% intake but it is still ‘Merit-based’.
    There is a global pilot shortage, airlines are parking planes. The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone. There are a lot of young females of the future that will make amazing pilots. Virgin and QANTAS are trying to encourage and find those that hadn’t thought of it as an option and make sure you end up with a competent skilled pilot up the front.
    I am also a female pilot, love my job and thoroughly enjoy working with men and women. When people find out I work for an airline, their first assumption is that I’m cabin crew. There is a gender bias out there, if these promotions help to improve that, bring it on.
    PS: Marc, go for it, but you did you know there is a ‘Men’s Netball Team’

  • James

    says:

    @ Jo
    No Jo. You don’t get it.
    They won’t aim at 50:50, they’ll nail it.
    Promote the industry to everyone, not just women.

  • Sam

    says:

    @Jo
    No one is denying that there’s are too few female pilots, but setting a quota, even if it is just an ‘aim’ is entirely the wrong way to go about it. Airlines need to go to grass roots level such as speaking at careers nights at high schools and getting the message out there that this job is for everyone. Whats between your legs shouldn’t factor into whether you are suitable for a job.

  • Curious

    says:

    Will they apply the same policy to the Cabin Crew?

  • James

    says:

    For all the people decrying the large amount of men commenting here, I imagine it has a lot to do with Australian Aviation’s reader statistics. You can’t disqualify their opinions based on sex, because this issue impacts men as well as women.
    However, on that note, I definitely welcome hearing from more women on here, even if I do not agree.

  • Lucas

    says:

    To Jo,
    You say that ‘The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone.’ You can do this till you’re blue in the face.
    Most pilots I know got into aviation because they knew at a very early age that this was what they wanted to do. I am a strong believer that in order to make a career in aviation you need passion for the job, I have seen many people leave aviation because they simply didn’t have that desire.
    Most parts of aviation are not very glamorous, despite what the public thinks. Some people would not handle the work/life commitments that come with the job. Others would hate the idea of every six months getting your flying ability scrutinised in the simulator, and constant study.
    My point being is that you are only going to attract a certain person to aviation, and by setting quotas you are effectively discouraging other candidates, making the pilot shortage worse.
    And if you want to talk about gender equality in sport, let’s see if the girls are willing to change the rules in tennis making everyone play the same number of sets to win a match?

  • Ash

    says:

    @Jo: “You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem”.
    1- Why is that a or ‘the’ problem?
    2- Is this not highly instructive?
    It’s as if women believe that men have clandestine meetings in Mason halls where we secretly learn about aviation and if only the industry was promoted to women, then more women would be interested.
    Reality dictates otherwise. The reason 99% of the comments on this site are from males is because men and women are different and generally like different things.
    Good luck with your war on science and biology, and I look forward to a 50:50 gender mix in the baggage handling department….because equality, right?

  • hhee

    says:

    Well Jo, what are they going to do to ‘aim’ for their 50:50 target? Do nothing and hope that they just happen to reach it by chance? If they do indeed base their recruitment entirely on merit, they will never get anywhere near 50:50. There are simply not enough females interested.
    The reason that most of the comments here would be by males is because the majority of those interested in Aviation are males. It’s not a reflection of any bias within the gender subject. There are plenty of females around who share the opinion that recruitment should not have any variation allowed for gender.
    As for a general pilot shortage, if there is one (people are always saying there’s one), I suspect it is merely due to recruitment/training not keeping pace with industry growth. NOT from a lack of suitable applicants. There are always stacks of people wanting to be pilots (nearly all male). I’m pretty sure there’s an article somewhere here about Qantas’ new academy receiving over 9000 expressions of interest within two weeks of it being announced. Probably over 8000 of those were males. I expect there are enough suitable applications just from males alone to meet any shortage but if the Airlines are hiring enough of them, that is a separate subject.`

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Jo
    While I respect your opinion, as others have said I really think you’re the one who doesn’t get it. Take time to read what I and others have said. We’re not saying anything that could be labelled as sexist or misogynistic (myself definitely not) in fact I think I’ve said several times that women should be offered jobs if they are the best people for the jobs. As should men – that’s true equality.
    I won’t add much more to what I’ve said, I stand by all of my comments and I’ll let them speak for themselves. I will make some more points though – out of this mad PC idea:
    * I can’t help the fact that I’m a man – nor will I apologise for it.
    * Due to being a man I’m still entitled to an opinion and I will express it. Others, be they male or female are entitled to agree or disagree with me. That’s great – it’s called freedom of speech and should be celebrated.
    * You mention the high number of comments here from males. Well I presume that the vast majority of magazine subscribers and people commenting on the website are male. What next? AA magazine to mandate a 50:50 gender split in it’s registered subscribers? Or me who hasn’t got around to renewing a long lapsed subscription, when I go and buy my copy at the newsagent each month, they’ll say ‘Sorry Ben, can’t sell this to you as too many males have bought a copy this month.’
    * Even better still, how about an idea of mandating that 50% of the comments on the website must come from females. Most of the articles would be restricted to one comment each.
    I’ve said this tongue in cheek of course, as with some of my other comments. However it goes to illustrate the point of how outrageous these targets and quotas are.
    The airline isn’t looking at these targets tongue in cheek though, they’re serious about them and due to that, they risk excluding highly qualified candidates on the basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Absolutely utter madness.

  • James

    says:

    Jo, The program still requires an applicant to be assessed for the intake. Gender quotas are BS. An good applicant is a good applicant. There may be more good male applications and is the reason gender quotas are BS. By trying to ‘even up the playing field’, actually does the opposite. Male and females have different interests and are generally are better at some things than others. Biology dictates this.

  • Nathan

    says:

    Given that the HR department who thought up this (discriminatory) policy is largely female dominated, will there be a 50/50 gender split for all HR jobs going forward?
    Are over a decade in the industry I honestly despair at the direction it is heading. Perhaps only a civi law suit will stop this insanity.

  • Rob

    says:

    Nice thought, but the math does not add up. If you want true equality, then make everyone achieve the same standards to enter the course. The question is, in order to fill this insane ‘quota’, will VA put in place different benchmarks according to sex?

  • Hahn

    says:

    Ridiculous, I will be moving back to Qantas for all my business flights, can’t take the chance that Virgin is flown by the less than best candidate pilots. Just very bad as a business decision to pander to the crazy left.

  • Jo

    says:

    To my responders, thank you. I also wholly agree that it should be the best candidate gets the job.
    Yes you do need to love the job; I give that advice to anyone looking at becoming a pilot, as you will quit if you don’t like it, plus have an enormous debt.
    You don’t need to have wanted to be a pilot since an early age. Some of the most interesting pilots I fly with are those (which includes myself) who have had a career before becoming a pilot. We know how lucky we are to have this job.
    My point is though; girls/women not seeing female pilots means it is often not even a thought as a career option.
    There is a pilot shortage, airlines are struggling to crew their schedules. The airlines would not be doing this if they really had a pilot glut.
    If this promotion can increase the pilot pool and improve the gender equality, bring it on.

  • hhee

    says:

    Jo,
    You are again confusing a pilot shortage with an applicant shortage.
    Do you have any sources at all to suggest there is an applicant shortage?
    There are stacks of applications made for each and every cadet pilot position on offer. Qantas already has thousands of applicants for their upcoming program and they aren’t even taking anyone on for a year.
    If the airlines want to take more on, all they have to do is increase the intake size.
    The reason airlines might be struggling to crew schedules is because their intakes are too small and they aren’t training up enough people. NOT because there aren’t enough suitable applicants.
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Raymond

    says:

    ^^ This:
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Anthony

    says:

    Hey All
    Airlines are trying to create an equal workplace by ensuring women are more represented on the flightdeck.
    It is a problem when Im in the flightdeck and the captain stops my briefing to point out a nice pair of legs walking up the stairs.
    It is a problem when a female pilot makes a radio call and the captain says “her voice is so annoying. Im a female hear me roar”.
    It is a problem when in GA I hand my boss 10 male resumes and he reads them all. I hand him 1 females resume and he says “nah mate I don’t hire ladies. Did that once and it didn’t work out”.
    The point im trying to make is without females in the industry this type of behaviour continues and its an endless cycle. Most of the comments I’ve read on this article assume that the system employers use is merit based and its far from it. If a female applicant meets the minimum standards there is no reason they shouldn’t be given the job even if a male achieved a higher standard. I say this because I see in recruitment men always getting jobs above others more qualified and skilled.
    Virgin Australia stating their aim for 50/50 will only encourage more women to start flying. As long as the applicants that get through meet the standards there will be no issues.
    Others speak of female dominated indurstries like nursing and make comments such as “well when are they going to introduce a 50/50 split there”. This makes no sense because male nurses most likely don’t face the same barriers as females do. Male nurses probably don’t get told to “check out those nice legs” whilst in the workplace.
    These “quotas” may be short lived and be the catalyst that drives changes to the aviation workplace. Hopefully 100 years from now we won’t have to be dealing with this. If measures arent introduced like they are unfortunately many women still won’t be getting jobs in Aviation and us men will still be saying “its because they don’t want to”

  • Mac Carter

    says:

    With the looming flight crew, cabin crew and technical personnel shortage, there is no way known that a potential employer, wether they be an airline, flight school or MRO would bypass a suitably qualified male trainee, cadet or fully licensed flight / cabin crew simply to achieve gender equality.
    Having carefully read the current issue of Australian Aviation, including the “focus on women in aviation” segments, It appears to me that employers in the aviation industry do not want to discriminate against male applicants to achieve gender equality, however want more female applicants to fill the soon to be vacant positions.
    Long term gender equality within the aviation industry might be achieved by this approach.
    I was most interested in the segment which featured Captain Veronica Binns .
    This lady should be very proud of her achievements.
    It is my firm belief that the segment dedicated to Captain Binns will inspire young ladies who might not have considered a career in aviation.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Anthony – I also stand by my comments re: 50/50 targets in other industries like nursing. If gender targets are OK for pilots and if they work (and I’m not saying they do). Then for a true level playing field they need to be applied across all jobs in all industries If you apply these targets though, and strictly adhere to an idea that every applicant pool for every job in the country must have a 50/50 gender split, you’re not going to get the best people for the job in any industry.
    If gender targets are such a great idea they should be based equally on every job in the country. You say that male nurses don’t face the same barriers as females do. I’m not so sure about that. Nursing or any other job/industry naturally may have one gender over represented in it’s ranks. I’d probably say there’s still some societal bias or stigma against male nurses. A man who truly has a career desire to be a nurse probably does face barriers/stigma in obtaining work, or at the very least has a realisation that his gender is very under represented in his chosen career. I suppose this is the same for females being pilots.
    There’s probably naturally going to always be more females being interested in nursing and more males being interested in being pilots. That’s why gender targets in any industry won’t work. People in any industry need to be assessed on merit, not gender.
    If there is a problem in the aviation industry re: male recruiters deliberately not selecting female applicants simply because they’re female then this is not acceptable. To change, it requires a change in culture, but it’s not going to be achieved by imposing targets. The males that are making these decisions, should probably not be in the jobs they’re in. However I would consider it probably an impossibility to go around to every GA business in the country to audit their recruitment practices. The most practical way for this to change is for anyone to speak up and say it is unacceptable.when they see it happen.
    In my own recruitment/HR job I still hear comments from both male and female managers around maternity leave that would be deemed unacceptable. When this occurs we have to point out the discrimination and sometimes direct managers to make decisions they’re not comfortable with. I work in a large organisation, so this is probably easier to do than pointing out unacceptable behaviour in the GA sector or most small businesses.
    Targets won’t work though as they’re still discrimination. What will work is assessing applications based on merit and cultural change where it’s required.

  • James

    says:

    @ Ben II
    Very true and very well said.

  • Anthony

    says:

    @Ben II
    I agree with most of what you said. However, changing the culture of an organisation is not easy and simply directing managers who are discriminating is ineffective in changing the company culture. You could even remove these people from their positions only to replace them with men who hold the same views. Its very difficult to screen for this when recuiting the recruiters.
    If you have an acceptable standard for airline pilots that are met by female applicants and you believe as a company that employing them will help change the culture of your company then why is this not acceptable. Is it unacceptable to employ someone with less merit but you truly believe their passion and determination and personality will make them a better fit for the companies future? What if their gender is merit because the current company culture is steering women away from the cockpit.
    If Virgin Australia said we are not hiring men I would see a big problem. If VA can actually find a 50/50 ratio in one small area of their recruitment pools (cadetships) who meet the high standards for the role advertised and can change the current culture then good luck to them.

  • Gary Spencer Salt

    says:

    So its not passion or skill, its gender that decides if you get into that left seat. My instructor died chasing twin time in New Guinea in the 1980’s desperate to get to that left seat , flying was a passion and that takes more than reading a check list, this is how a crews fly a plane through 25000 feet with the most basic of problems – a stall – low airspeed high rate sink = flying 101. Selection on gender just weakens the skill pool with the inevitable lowering of standards over time for all.

  • Jim

    says:

    I don’t want to board any aircraft where the pilot, male or female wasn’t chosen on ability rather than gender. Choosing any pilot on gender is not only stupid it is highly dangerous.

  • Charlie Andrew

    says:

    I am interested but how can I be admitted into the program?

  • Shoulder Shrug

    says:

    I know of more than a few good pilots who have been given a no from virgin in recent years – some left in the dark post overview, not hearing either way. Others told they don’t have enough ‘enthusiasm’ for the role. Yet here we are talking about how to convince/entice enough people to join the industry?

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Virgin Australia sets 50:50 gender target for pilot cadetships

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 4, 2018

Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia says it is aiming to have a equal number of male and female pilots in its pilot cadetship program as part of efforts to boost the number of female pilots in its ranks.
The airline group is planning for a 50:50 gender target as it opens applications for the 2019 intake, which will undertake its flying with Flight Training Adelaide in South Australia. There will be two ab initio courses, which is designed for those without any previous flying experience, starting in January and July 2019, Virgin Australia said on Friday.
Virgin Australia group executive for people Lucinda Gemmell said the the airline was encouraging more females to consider a career in aviation.
“Globally, just three per cent of pilots are women,” Gemmell said.
“Our previous pilot cadetships have had up to 50 per cent females so we’re confident we can reach this target this year. Aviation is an exciting industry and we can’t wait to welcome the next generation of Virgin Australia pilots when they commence their cadetship.”
Virgin Australia director of flight operations Stuart Aggs said the pilot cadets would live on campus and undertake a combination of ground school and flying modules during the 54-week course.
Upon successful completion of the course, they would graduate with a commercial pilot’s licence and a guaranteed position with Virgin Australia as first or second officers.

VIDEO: A look at the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program from Virgin Australia’s YouTube channel.
The push to broaden the potential pool of aviators for the next generation is reflected in the Boeing 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July 2017, which showed there is a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots, 648,000 airline maintenance technicians and 839,000 new cabin crew members around the world over the next two decades.
Boeing's 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)
Boeing’s 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)

Rob Sharp says more promotion of the “enjoyment” of being a pilot needed

Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp said recently pilot recruitment has been a “significant area of focus”.
“It’s been an interesting dynamic,” Sharp told delegates at the Routes Asia 2018 conference in Brisbane in March, in response to a question.
“We’ve been talking about it for about five years that I can recollect that as the Middle Eastern carriers and the Chinese carriers grow they are looking to secure pilots and they have been doing that.
“Also, there has been a dynamic as new aircraft types come in, pilots like the new toys and they go for those jobs and then there is a cascade of training that occurs.
“So it puts a lot of pressure on training organisations because you are effectively backfilling and then bringing in new pilots. For us, we ramped up our cadet program. It has been very, very successful.”
Sharp said the industry needed to communicate to high schools and universities about the advantages and “enjoyment” of being a pilot, noting the “newer generation is not necessarily seeing 40 years as a pilot as being attractive”.
Further, this type of activity was also needed to encourage more women to pursue a career in aviation.
“Our pilot ratio is also largely male,” Sharp said.
“We’ve got a growing portion that’s female but I personally believe that some activity in terms of promoting is something we need to also do with the females so that they come through.
“In fact we think our cadet program next year will have a 50:50 balance there in terms of gender, which is great.”
Sharp said the company had “invested heavily in our in-house training capabilities”.
“So you can flex the training if the demand is needed,” Sharp said.
“And our brand is very attractive. We can get a lot of people wanting to work for us and so we are fortunate in that that challenger brand and the legacy that is Virgin does attract people.
“We will obviously be leveraging that as part of the process of promoting our wares.”

Qantas targeting increased female pilot numbers through Nancy Bird Walton initiative

In February, Qantas said it planned establish a new pilot training academy with the capacity to train up to 500 pilots a year.
To be called the Qantas Group Pilot Academy, the school would open its doors in 2019 and be initially for direct entry cadets joining the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and QantasLink. A location was yet to be announced.
The academy would initially train about 100 pilots a year, which could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee for service basis depending on demand from other parts of the industry.

Qantas Second Officer Arika Maloney, RMIT Aviation Student Anna Garliss, Griffith Aviation Student Kate Richards, and QantasLink First Officer Nicholas Bevis in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)
Qantas pilots and aviation students in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)

As John Walton writes in his story “Bridging the Gap” in the May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation, Qantas is also keen, in the words of its chief executive Alan Joyce, to “up the ante with our female pilot intake”.
“Qantas Group commits to a 20 per cent intake of women in our 2018 cadet program and we will double that number over the next decade to reach gender parity, at intake, through our Nancy Bird Walton Initiative,” Joyce said at a Qantas-hosted Male Champions of Change Leaders’ Forum in Sydney in late 2017.
“This initiative will support girls and women on a merit-based path to a career as a Qantas Group pilot. We’ll target STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in schools, flying schools and cadet programs to achieve our aspiration.
“It is going to take a concerted effort but it’s time for a moonshot vision for gender equality.”

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Joyce said there were about 190 female pilots across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar. This represented about five per cent of all pilots at the airline group.
“We can’t dismiss this gap by saying that family commitments make a career as a pilot unsuitable for a woman,” Joyce said.
“Not when we know that our cabin crew have similar rosters and 68 per cent of our flight attendants are women.”
As Walton notes in his story, the task of attracting more women to typically male-dominated areas represented the greatest challenge facing Australia’s aviation industry as it looks to meet the demand for future years.
Further details on the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program are available on the airline’s website. Applications close on June 3 2018.
The May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation features a number of stories on women in aviation. It is on sale at newsstands now, or available for digital download via Zinio, Issuu and the Apple app store.

54 Comments

  • Colin

    says:

    So – It won’t necessarily be the best candidate to get each position vacancy.

  • Scott

    says:

    Great work Virgin, glad to see you set the bar at 50/50 and are out of the blocks first stating this.

  • James

    says:

    Wouldn’t want to be a guy applying for VA cadetship atm. A lot of good male candidates are gonna take a hit to get that 50/50 figure

  • Ben

    says:

    50:50 doesn’t mean reducing the number of males, just increase the number of females. That’s not rocket science.

  • John

    says:

    At the moment roughly 10% of pilots are female. Even if there’s an increase of up to 20% within the next few years women still make up a minority of pilots and a minority of cadetship applicants.
    Say if 20 people are selected for this program, and 20% of applicants are female, that means that to make it a 50-50 gender split between those selected for the program,( 10 females) they would have to bypass 40 males who scored higher in the selection process than the lowest ranked female who was chosen. Doesn’t seem fair at all, nor does it qualify as only selecting people on merit.
    The only way true gender equality can be achieved and merit truly becomes the only quality for selection, is if 50% of applicants are female, then we can be assured that the people selected are truly representative of the best.

  • Lechuga

    says:

    Sounds really stupid. By all accounts there’s a pilot shortage, don’t go 50/50, take the best you can get beforehand someone else does.
    This 50/50 gender thing is stupid. If you had 70/30 male to female and had the best possible you’re doing great, if you have 30/70 male to female with the best possible you’re still doing great. Ridiculous.

  • Lucas

    says:

    Unbelievable! the political correctness is getting out hand in this country…. what next, quotas to have a percentage of transgender pilots??
    I understand many years ago, women found it extremely difficult to get into the industry however times have changed and everyone now has a level playing field. Theses positions should go to the best candidates, gender is not a determining factor when it comes to flying an aircraft.
    I don’t see this level of pushing for gender equality in any other industry, the fact that a certain gender is attracted to a certain industry is just personal reference. The same reason why some industries are mainly dominated by females.
    As a professional pilot, I have flown with many talented women, who have worked their backsides to be where they are, just like most pilots. Bypassing more suitable candidates based only on gender, is demoralising for individuals, and the industry as a whole.

  • Adrian

    says:

    Sexism in the name of equality. Note how none of the photos are even 50/50??Quotas discriminate against people based on gender, Why not just hire the best people regardless of gender?? Your last magazine was just PC nonsense Australian Aviation, I might unsubscribe, Keep it about the planes!!! Not interested in a leftist political agenda, There is enough of that nonsense in regular media!!

  • Ash

    says:

    So they are basically going to end up with a significant proportion of their pilots dropping out in a few years on maternity leave when they could have hired males who would continue flying.
    I can’t wait for this madness to end.

  • Sam

    says:

    Gender discrimination

  • Greg

    says:

    If the airlines want to address gender imbalance, they should focus on helping women to get to the selection stage. Selection to enter the programme should then be free of gender bias. Discrimination against men is occurring more and more frequently. What is the gender ratio for flight attendants and is there a 50/50 quota there?

  • Ben II

    says:

    Agree with most of the above comments – this is madness
    @John in particular makes a very very good point. I work in a recruitment role. Any selection process that is not based on merit is simply not equitable and you are not going to get the best person for the job (be they male or female).
    If 50% of the applicants were female then the process has maybe some chance of working, but then if that’s the case you don’t have a problem in the first place. Even then though the merit of all candidates being split absolutely evenly between genders can’t be guaranteed. Any cohort of applicants can have varying levels of suitability for any role. To have a target based on gender you are never going to get the best people for the job. Especially when the genders aren’t equally represented in the initial applicant pool.
    This isn’t gender equality – it’s an attempt to arrive at a result on the basis of a non merit based selection methodology.
    This is actually bordering on social engineering which can lead to going down a very slippery slope.
    When will people accept any gender can be over or under represented, depending on the industry you’re looking at.
    I’m not sexist. If a female is the best person for the job, they should be offered it. However if you want true equality between genders, males have to also be given job offers based on merit. They shouldn’t be rated unsuitable for a position they are highly suitable for, on the simple basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Anyone who can’t see the flaws in this gender target is kidding themselves.
    I read my latest issue of AA magazine with interest: A special focus on women in aviation. This is fantastic, however I wonder in the interest of true equality, you may be running a special focus on men in aviation in a future issue?

  • David

    says:

    As a male dominated environment, yes change is required. Reading all the against comments above, all scribed my males, you all note archaic ideals. The fact that General Aviation operators I have seen are discriminatory on gender on a very regular basis. The whole concept of a ‘female’ pilot automatically puts them in the trash file.
    This opportunity to offer position to capable woman is a no brainer. Its time that people realise that on an operational perspective the ‘female’ resource is an untapped market for the future of flying. The woman I have flown with from my experience are far superior from their flying capabilities, CRM and generally inclusive.
    And this is the reason after 2 decades in the industry I happy to hear the boys club is being pushed a little out of its comfort zone. Still a long way to go.

  • Darren

    says:

    I don’t think its a good idea with this 50/50.
    Airlines should hire candidates for direct entry or cadetship purely on whether or not they meet or are above minimum requirements not whether they are male or female. PERIOD

  • Anonymous

    says:

    Its fantastic that airlines are trying to encourage women to pursue careers as pilots. In saying that, airline recruiters are ostracising male pilots, who make up the vast majority of their pool of candidates. I myself as a young aviator, feel that I may lose opportunities to join airlines based on the fact that I am male. It sounds bizarre! But the fact of the matter is that in ALL the recruitment campaigns for Australian airlines we see more women than men, and it seems like a male pilot is no longer as valuable. I know the airlines would detest this, however they NEED to communicate that male pilots are still valuable assets. It is very trendy at the moment to recruit female pilots… but the discussion point in the crew room and in the cockpit is that “If you want to get into an airline these days, you have to be female”. Its obviously a NONSENSE statement but the fact that people feel this way is enough to say that there is an issue!
    You know what the ironic part about it is too. The female pilots I do fly with comment on how they feel patronised by this campaign. They know they are as good as us and they don’t want to feel like they are getting special treatment. I admire female pilots but I don’t think airline recruiters do!

  • Richard

    says:

    I stay away from Qantas because I object to Mr Joyce forcing his opinions down my neck.
    Nevertheless, I want the best pilot flying the aeroplane and I don’t care if the pilot is male or female.
    If there is one skerrick of evidence that Virgin are putting pilots in the cockpit for any reason other than that pilot’s competence as a pilot, then back to Qantas for me.

  • Robert

    says:

    It appears that they are more than happy to push for more females into the more desirable jobs. What about airport ramp jobs? Are they trying to increase the number of females there? Or are they trying to increase the number of males who are flight attendants?
    I work in a male dominated industry and the few female workers we have are bloody excellent. And they aboubulely hate this massive push for gender targets.

  • David

    says:

    This is an absolute disgrace and embarrassment for virgin Australia and for equality in general. It diminishes the efforts and merit based achievements of all female pilots to date and introduces sexual discrimination in a bid to eradicate it – can anyone see the irony? If you don’t want sexual discrimination in the workplace, why mention male or female at all?! That is the only fair way forward.
    Absolute insanity and for anyone who supports it, are you really about equal opportunity or just biased and manipulated equal outcomes? If it’s the latter then you are discriminatory at heart and you probably don’t even know it.
    For shame.

  • GBRGB

    says:

    What a sad sad place we have moved to in this country. So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut , just ridiculous.

  • James

    says:

    @ GBRGB
    You hit the nail on the head. Well said. We need to promote this industry to both males and females. We are facing a shortage of people. Aircraft don’t care if a male or female is driving/maintaining it.
    Artificially solving this “problem” is utter stupidity.

  • Samual

    says:

    This is all very goo but I would prefer a policy of getting the best aircrew regards of gender.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @David – (First David – from 10:10 am today)
    You note it’s a male dominated industry. Some industries are male dominated and some are female dominated. If we’re going to apply a 50/50 gender recruitment rule for airlines, we may as well do it across the whole economy. This way you’d be looking at recruiting more males to nursing until it hits 50/50. Equally you’d be looking at more females in construction or defence until those industries hit 50/50. The list could go on, name your industry.
    As per my initial post that isn’t going to get the best people for the job, especially when the original pool of applicants is not weighted 50/50 to start with. @GBRGB says it best:
    ‘So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut, just ridiculous’
    Therein lies the problem and I agree, it is just ridiculous.
    If we want true equality and the best people for the job, the best qualified people, regardless of if they are male or female, should get the job. Gender should not be a factor.
    I’m an aviation enthusiast and don’t work in the industry. However as mentioned I work in a recruitment role. I actually work in a female dominated workplace. There’s only 2 other males in my immediate team. My line manager and general manager are both female as is the CEO of the organisation.
    @David You mention a ‘boys club’ in the aviation industry. I could just as easily mention a ‘girls club’ in my own workplace. Having said that, it doesn’t bother me. It’s a job, it pays the bills and the mortgage and enables me to be a frequent flyer – bonus 🙂
    I’m happy to hear you’ve been in the aviation industry for 2 decades and it appears from your post, you are a pilot. I sincerely wish you all the best throughout your career.and also sincerely hope that should you apply for a job in the future that you are offered that job on your own merits and hard work – not denied the job because you are male.
    Equally if there is a female who has an equal amount of merit and has put in the same amount of hard work, she should have just as much an opportunity of securing the same position.
    That is true equality – not quota systems based on gender. This kind of quota system is discrimination plain and simple. Some people may call it positive discrimination, but it’s still discrimination. Discrimination no matter what name you give it is not equality.

  • alan

    says:

    i note all this PC going on in australia at the detrimement of the best person for the job which most comments have suggested.
    there is no push to have a 50/50 ratio by the PCs for the not so glamorous jobs in aviation as throwing bags on the ramp and honey cart drivers on the ramp.
    very selective in the descrimination area of which jobs which seems ironic and no one mentions.
    the PC push is for the desirable jobs in airline management and pilots.
    and i suspect this is going on in all industries in australia and the defence forces.
    obviously there are very talented women who should be encoured at the same time as there very talented male colleagues..
    PC is a threat to the best person for the job.
    and why all this publicity/advertising to find applicants for pilots?
    any one who is enthusiastic and really wants to be a pilot knows exactly where he needs to go and what to do to become a pilot.
    enthusiasm should be part of the criteria.

  • Marc

    says:

    I can’t get a look-in for the Australian netball team.

  • Darren

    says:

    HA HA 🙂
    @Marc

  • David

    says:

    First time I’ve heard of political correctness being a requirement in the cockpit. I would have thought Branson’s overly progressive ideology would have been better in the front counter or cabin staff where it doesn’t really matter either way. I would much rather have a pilot who’s a competent qualified pilot than one that got there more because of their sexual identity.
    Oh well, I’ll just fly airlines that don’t make ludicrous, over-the-top virtue-signalling statements about who their pilots are.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Marc – that’s gold 🙂
    Come to think of it if you apply it to sporting teams, by this logic there should be equal representation between men and women in all sporting teams. Rather than separate men’s and women’s competitions. There might be a bit of an issue with teams where there are an odd number of players in the team: Rugby League is 13 players – it would have to be split 7/6 or dear one gender is going to be under represented. Rugby Union is 15 so would have to be split 8/7. Shock horror – what is going to be done about the inequality. AFL would be OK though – 9 players from each gender. I say this tongue in cheek of course, but it just goes to illustrate how absolutely ludicrous such targets are.
    To achieve absolute true ‘equality’ though – the above must take place. I don’t see the same targets being applied to the less glamours jobs though as others have said. Why isn’t there the same targets for ramp staff or engineers. Why isn’t there an outcry over the under representation of women amongst garbage collectors or labourers.
    Utter PC madness.

  • NJP

    says:

    Equality needs to exclude the potential for / perception of unconscious bias:
    The selection panel Should be made up of a 50:50 mix male & females and (to be politically correct) the first round of candidate selection should include a 50:50 mix of applicants. Then from that point on, only the best candidates move forwards, regardless of gender.
    Excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages along with the colour of someone’s skin or their choice of partner.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @NJP
    I have no problem with a selection panel having a 50/50 mix of males and females.
    I do have a problem with the first round candidate selection having 50/50 mix of applicants. If there are more overall applicants from one gender than another then you run the risk of excluding qualified candidates on the basis of their gender.
    I agree with you that excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages, This can also be said about skin colour, choice of partner etc. No problem there whatsoever.
    However excluding a perfectly qualified male candidate, simply because their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool, should also belong in the dark ages. Read the point that @ GBRGB made so well. This is nothing short of discrimination and just as bad as excluding someone because they are a woman, because they can have a baby because of skin colour etc.
    Truly equitable applicant selection, at whatever part of the process, should be based on the merit of that application and merit alone. Gender should not be a factor. If you start looking at targets or quotas for a process you risk excluding suitable candidates. Your selection of applicants should be based entirely on who the best person for the job is. Not on gender or any other factors.

  • Jo

    says:

    To Colin, Scott, James, Ben, John, Lechuga, Lucas, Adrian, Ash, Sam, Greg, Ben II, David, Darren, Richard, Robert, David, GBRGB, Samual, Alan……
    You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem.
    No where in the Article did Virgin Australia so it was going to take 50% woman no matter what their skills, it says they are ‘Aiming’ for a 50% female intake. QANTAS said they are committing to 20% intake but it is still ‘Merit-based’.
    There is a global pilot shortage, airlines are parking planes. The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone. There are a lot of young females of the future that will make amazing pilots. Virgin and QANTAS are trying to encourage and find those that hadn’t thought of it as an option and make sure you end up with a competent skilled pilot up the front.
    I am also a female pilot, love my job and thoroughly enjoy working with men and women. When people find out I work for an airline, their first assumption is that I’m cabin crew. There is a gender bias out there, if these promotions help to improve that, bring it on.
    PS: Marc, go for it, but you did you know there is a ‘Men’s Netball Team’

  • James

    says:

    @ Jo
    No Jo. You don’t get it.
    They won’t aim at 50:50, they’ll nail it.
    Promote the industry to everyone, not just women.

  • Sam

    says:

    @Jo
    No one is denying that there’s are too few female pilots, but setting a quota, even if it is just an ‘aim’ is entirely the wrong way to go about it. Airlines need to go to grass roots level such as speaking at careers nights at high schools and getting the message out there that this job is for everyone. Whats between your legs shouldn’t factor into whether you are suitable for a job.

  • Curious

    says:

    Will they apply the same policy to the Cabin Crew?

  • James

    says:

    For all the people decrying the large amount of men commenting here, I imagine it has a lot to do with Australian Aviation’s reader statistics. You can’t disqualify their opinions based on sex, because this issue impacts men as well as women.
    However, on that note, I definitely welcome hearing from more women on here, even if I do not agree.

  • Lucas

    says:

    To Jo,
    You say that ‘The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone.’ You can do this till you’re blue in the face.
    Most pilots I know got into aviation because they knew at a very early age that this was what they wanted to do. I am a strong believer that in order to make a career in aviation you need passion for the job, I have seen many people leave aviation because they simply didn’t have that desire.
    Most parts of aviation are not very glamorous, despite what the public thinks. Some people would not handle the work/life commitments that come with the job. Others would hate the idea of every six months getting your flying ability scrutinised in the simulator, and constant study.
    My point being is that you are only going to attract a certain person to aviation, and by setting quotas you are effectively discouraging other candidates, making the pilot shortage worse.
    And if you want to talk about gender equality in sport, let’s see if the girls are willing to change the rules in tennis making everyone play the same number of sets to win a match?

  • Ash

    says:

    @Jo: “You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem”.
    1- Why is that a or ‘the’ problem?
    2- Is this not highly instructive?
    It’s as if women believe that men have clandestine meetings in Mason halls where we secretly learn about aviation and if only the industry was promoted to women, then more women would be interested.
    Reality dictates otherwise. The reason 99% of the comments on this site are from males is because men and women are different and generally like different things.
    Good luck with your war on science and biology, and I look forward to a 50:50 gender mix in the baggage handling department….because equality, right?

  • hhee

    says:

    Well Jo, what are they going to do to ‘aim’ for their 50:50 target? Do nothing and hope that they just happen to reach it by chance? If they do indeed base their recruitment entirely on merit, they will never get anywhere near 50:50. There are simply not enough females interested.
    The reason that most of the comments here would be by males is because the majority of those interested in Aviation are males. It’s not a reflection of any bias within the gender subject. There are plenty of females around who share the opinion that recruitment should not have any variation allowed for gender.
    As for a general pilot shortage, if there is one (people are always saying there’s one), I suspect it is merely due to recruitment/training not keeping pace with industry growth. NOT from a lack of suitable applicants. There are always stacks of people wanting to be pilots (nearly all male). I’m pretty sure there’s an article somewhere here about Qantas’ new academy receiving over 9000 expressions of interest within two weeks of it being announced. Probably over 8000 of those were males. I expect there are enough suitable applications just from males alone to meet any shortage but if the Airlines are hiring enough of them, that is a separate subject.`

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Jo
    While I respect your opinion, as others have said I really think you’re the one who doesn’t get it. Take time to read what I and others have said. We’re not saying anything that could be labelled as sexist or misogynistic (myself definitely not) in fact I think I’ve said several times that women should be offered jobs if they are the best people for the jobs. As should men – that’s true equality.
    I won’t add much more to what I’ve said, I stand by all of my comments and I’ll let them speak for themselves. I will make some more points though – out of this mad PC idea:
    * I can’t help the fact that I’m a man – nor will I apologise for it.
    * Due to being a man I’m still entitled to an opinion and I will express it. Others, be they male or female are entitled to agree or disagree with me. That’s great – it’s called freedom of speech and should be celebrated.
    * You mention the high number of comments here from males. Well I presume that the vast majority of magazine subscribers and people commenting on the website are male. What next? AA magazine to mandate a 50:50 gender split in it’s registered subscribers? Or me who hasn’t got around to renewing a long lapsed subscription, when I go and buy my copy at the newsagent each month, they’ll say ‘Sorry Ben, can’t sell this to you as too many males have bought a copy this month.’
    * Even better still, how about an idea of mandating that 50% of the comments on the website must come from females. Most of the articles would be restricted to one comment each.
    I’ve said this tongue in cheek of course, as with some of my other comments. However it goes to illustrate the point of how outrageous these targets and quotas are.
    The airline isn’t looking at these targets tongue in cheek though, they’re serious about them and due to that, they risk excluding highly qualified candidates on the basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Absolutely utter madness.

  • James

    says:

    Jo, The program still requires an applicant to be assessed for the intake. Gender quotas are BS. An good applicant is a good applicant. There may be more good male applications and is the reason gender quotas are BS. By trying to ‘even up the playing field’, actually does the opposite. Male and females have different interests and are generally are better at some things than others. Biology dictates this.

  • Nathan

    says:

    Given that the HR department who thought up this (discriminatory) policy is largely female dominated, will there be a 50/50 gender split for all HR jobs going forward?
    Are over a decade in the industry I honestly despair at the direction it is heading. Perhaps only a civi law suit will stop this insanity.

  • Rob

    says:

    Nice thought, but the math does not add up. If you want true equality, then make everyone achieve the same standards to enter the course. The question is, in order to fill this insane ‘quota’, will VA put in place different benchmarks according to sex?

  • Hahn

    says:

    Ridiculous, I will be moving back to Qantas for all my business flights, can’t take the chance that Virgin is flown by the less than best candidate pilots. Just very bad as a business decision to pander to the crazy left.

  • Jo

    says:

    To my responders, thank you. I also wholly agree that it should be the best candidate gets the job.
    Yes you do need to love the job; I give that advice to anyone looking at becoming a pilot, as you will quit if you don’t like it, plus have an enormous debt.
    You don’t need to have wanted to be a pilot since an early age. Some of the most interesting pilots I fly with are those (which includes myself) who have had a career before becoming a pilot. We know how lucky we are to have this job.
    My point is though; girls/women not seeing female pilots means it is often not even a thought as a career option.
    There is a pilot shortage, airlines are struggling to crew their schedules. The airlines would not be doing this if they really had a pilot glut.
    If this promotion can increase the pilot pool and improve the gender equality, bring it on.

  • hhee

    says:

    Jo,
    You are again confusing a pilot shortage with an applicant shortage.
    Do you have any sources at all to suggest there is an applicant shortage?
    There are stacks of applications made for each and every cadet pilot position on offer. Qantas already has thousands of applicants for their upcoming program and they aren’t even taking anyone on for a year.
    If the airlines want to take more on, all they have to do is increase the intake size.
    The reason airlines might be struggling to crew schedules is because their intakes are too small and they aren’t training up enough people. NOT because there aren’t enough suitable applicants.
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Raymond

    says:

    ^^ This:
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Anthony

    says:

    Hey All
    Airlines are trying to create an equal workplace by ensuring women are more represented on the flightdeck.
    It is a problem when Im in the flightdeck and the captain stops my briefing to point out a nice pair of legs walking up the stairs.
    It is a problem when a female pilot makes a radio call and the captain says “her voice is so annoying. Im a female hear me roar”.
    It is a problem when in GA I hand my boss 10 male resumes and he reads them all. I hand him 1 females resume and he says “nah mate I don’t hire ladies. Did that once and it didn’t work out”.
    The point im trying to make is without females in the industry this type of behaviour continues and its an endless cycle. Most of the comments I’ve read on this article assume that the system employers use is merit based and its far from it. If a female applicant meets the minimum standards there is no reason they shouldn’t be given the job even if a male achieved a higher standard. I say this because I see in recruitment men always getting jobs above others more qualified and skilled.
    Virgin Australia stating their aim for 50/50 will only encourage more women to start flying. As long as the applicants that get through meet the standards there will be no issues.
    Others speak of female dominated indurstries like nursing and make comments such as “well when are they going to introduce a 50/50 split there”. This makes no sense because male nurses most likely don’t face the same barriers as females do. Male nurses probably don’t get told to “check out those nice legs” whilst in the workplace.
    These “quotas” may be short lived and be the catalyst that drives changes to the aviation workplace. Hopefully 100 years from now we won’t have to be dealing with this. If measures arent introduced like they are unfortunately many women still won’t be getting jobs in Aviation and us men will still be saying “its because they don’t want to”

  • Mac Carter

    says:

    With the looming flight crew, cabin crew and technical personnel shortage, there is no way known that a potential employer, wether they be an airline, flight school or MRO would bypass a suitably qualified male trainee, cadet or fully licensed flight / cabin crew simply to achieve gender equality.
    Having carefully read the current issue of Australian Aviation, including the “focus on women in aviation” segments, It appears to me that employers in the aviation industry do not want to discriminate against male applicants to achieve gender equality, however want more female applicants to fill the soon to be vacant positions.
    Long term gender equality within the aviation industry might be achieved by this approach.
    I was most interested in the segment which featured Captain Veronica Binns .
    This lady should be very proud of her achievements.
    It is my firm belief that the segment dedicated to Captain Binns will inspire young ladies who might not have considered a career in aviation.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Anthony – I also stand by my comments re: 50/50 targets in other industries like nursing. If gender targets are OK for pilots and if they work (and I’m not saying they do). Then for a true level playing field they need to be applied across all jobs in all industries If you apply these targets though, and strictly adhere to an idea that every applicant pool for every job in the country must have a 50/50 gender split, you’re not going to get the best people for the job in any industry.
    If gender targets are such a great idea they should be based equally on every job in the country. You say that male nurses don’t face the same barriers as females do. I’m not so sure about that. Nursing or any other job/industry naturally may have one gender over represented in it’s ranks. I’d probably say there’s still some societal bias or stigma against male nurses. A man who truly has a career desire to be a nurse probably does face barriers/stigma in obtaining work, or at the very least has a realisation that his gender is very under represented in his chosen career. I suppose this is the same for females being pilots.
    There’s probably naturally going to always be more females being interested in nursing and more males being interested in being pilots. That’s why gender targets in any industry won’t work. People in any industry need to be assessed on merit, not gender.
    If there is a problem in the aviation industry re: male recruiters deliberately not selecting female applicants simply because they’re female then this is not acceptable. To change, it requires a change in culture, but it’s not going to be achieved by imposing targets. The males that are making these decisions, should probably not be in the jobs they’re in. However I would consider it probably an impossibility to go around to every GA business in the country to audit their recruitment practices. The most practical way for this to change is for anyone to speak up and say it is unacceptable.when they see it happen.
    In my own recruitment/HR job I still hear comments from both male and female managers around maternity leave that would be deemed unacceptable. When this occurs we have to point out the discrimination and sometimes direct managers to make decisions they’re not comfortable with. I work in a large organisation, so this is probably easier to do than pointing out unacceptable behaviour in the GA sector or most small businesses.
    Targets won’t work though as they’re still discrimination. What will work is assessing applications based on merit and cultural change where it’s required.

  • James

    says:

    @ Ben II
    Very true and very well said.

  • Anthony

    says:

    @Ben II
    I agree with most of what you said. However, changing the culture of an organisation is not easy and simply directing managers who are discriminating is ineffective in changing the company culture. You could even remove these people from their positions only to replace them with men who hold the same views. Its very difficult to screen for this when recuiting the recruiters.
    If you have an acceptable standard for airline pilots that are met by female applicants and you believe as a company that employing them will help change the culture of your company then why is this not acceptable. Is it unacceptable to employ someone with less merit but you truly believe their passion and determination and personality will make them a better fit for the companies future? What if their gender is merit because the current company culture is steering women away from the cockpit.
    If Virgin Australia said we are not hiring men I would see a big problem. If VA can actually find a 50/50 ratio in one small area of their recruitment pools (cadetships) who meet the high standards for the role advertised and can change the current culture then good luck to them.

  • Gary Spencer Salt

    says:

    So its not passion or skill, its gender that decides if you get into that left seat. My instructor died chasing twin time in New Guinea in the 1980’s desperate to get to that left seat , flying was a passion and that takes more than reading a check list, this is how a crews fly a plane through 25000 feet with the most basic of problems – a stall – low airspeed high rate sink = flying 101. Selection on gender just weakens the skill pool with the inevitable lowering of standards over time for all.

  • Jim

    says:

    I don’t want to board any aircraft where the pilot, male or female wasn’t chosen on ability rather than gender. Choosing any pilot on gender is not only stupid it is highly dangerous.

  • Charlie Andrew

    says:

    I am interested but how can I be admitted into the program?

  • Shoulder Shrug

    says:

    I know of more than a few good pilots who have been given a no from virgin in recent years – some left in the dark post overview, not hearing either way. Others told they don’t have enough ‘enthusiasm’ for the role. Yet here we are talking about how to convince/entice enough people to join the industry?

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Virgin Australia sets 50:50 gender target for pilot cadetships

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 4, 2018

Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia pilot cadets at Flight Training Adelaide. (Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia says it is aiming to have a equal number of male and female pilots in its pilot cadetship program as part of efforts to boost the number of female pilots in its ranks.
The airline group is planning for a 50:50 gender target as it opens applications for the 2019 intake, which will undertake its flying with Flight Training Adelaide in South Australia. There will be two ab initio courses, which is designed for those without any previous flying experience, starting in January and July 2019, Virgin Australia said on Friday.
Virgin Australia group executive for people Lucinda Gemmell said the the airline was encouraging more females to consider a career in aviation.
“Globally, just three per cent of pilots are women,” Gemmell said.
“Our previous pilot cadetships have had up to 50 per cent females so we’re confident we can reach this target this year. Aviation is an exciting industry and we can’t wait to welcome the next generation of Virgin Australia pilots when they commence their cadetship.”
Virgin Australia director of flight operations Stuart Aggs said the pilot cadets would live on campus and undertake a combination of ground school and flying modules during the 54-week course.
Upon successful completion of the course, they would graduate with a commercial pilot’s licence and a guaranteed position with Virgin Australia as first or second officers.

VIDEO: A look at the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program from Virgin Australia’s YouTube channel.
The push to broaden the potential pool of aviators for the next generation is reflected in the Boeing 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July 2017, which showed there is a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots, 648,000 airline maintenance technicians and 839,000 new cabin crew members around the world over the next two decades.
Boeing's 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)
Boeing’s 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)

Rob Sharp says more promotion of the “enjoyment” of being a pilot needed

Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp said recently pilot recruitment has been a “significant area of focus”.
“It’s been an interesting dynamic,” Sharp told delegates at the Routes Asia 2018 conference in Brisbane in March, in response to a question.
“We’ve been talking about it for about five years that I can recollect that as the Middle Eastern carriers and the Chinese carriers grow they are looking to secure pilots and they have been doing that.
“Also, there has been a dynamic as new aircraft types come in, pilots like the new toys and they go for those jobs and then there is a cascade of training that occurs.
“So it puts a lot of pressure on training organisations because you are effectively backfilling and then bringing in new pilots. For us, we ramped up our cadet program. It has been very, very successful.”
Sharp said the industry needed to communicate to high schools and universities about the advantages and “enjoyment” of being a pilot, noting the “newer generation is not necessarily seeing 40 years as a pilot as being attractive”.
Further, this type of activity was also needed to encourage more women to pursue a career in aviation.
“Our pilot ratio is also largely male,” Sharp said.
“We’ve got a growing portion that’s female but I personally believe that some activity in terms of promoting is something we need to also do with the females so that they come through.
“In fact we think our cadet program next year will have a 50:50 balance there in terms of gender, which is great.”
Sharp said the company had “invested heavily in our in-house training capabilities”.
“So you can flex the training if the demand is needed,” Sharp said.
“And our brand is very attractive. We can get a lot of people wanting to work for us and so we are fortunate in that that challenger brand and the legacy that is Virgin does attract people.
“We will obviously be leveraging that as part of the process of promoting our wares.”

Qantas targeting increased female pilot numbers through Nancy Bird Walton initiative

In February, Qantas said it planned establish a new pilot training academy with the capacity to train up to 500 pilots a year.
To be called the Qantas Group Pilot Academy, the school would open its doors in 2019 and be initially for direct entry cadets joining the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and QantasLink. A location was yet to be announced.
The academy would initially train about 100 pilots a year, which could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee for service basis depending on demand from other parts of the industry.

Qantas Second Officer Arika Maloney, RMIT Aviation Student Anna Garliss, Griffith Aviation Student Kate Richards, and QantasLink First Officer Nicholas Bevis in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)
Qantas pilots and aviation students in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)

As John Walton writes in his story “Bridging the Gap” in the May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation, Qantas is also keen, in the words of its chief executive Alan Joyce, to “up the ante with our female pilot intake”.
“Qantas Group commits to a 20 per cent intake of women in our 2018 cadet program and we will double that number over the next decade to reach gender parity, at intake, through our Nancy Bird Walton Initiative,” Joyce said at a Qantas-hosted Male Champions of Change Leaders’ Forum in Sydney in late 2017.
“This initiative will support girls and women on a merit-based path to a career as a Qantas Group pilot. We’ll target STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in schools, flying schools and cadet programs to achieve our aspiration.
“It is going to take a concerted effort but it’s time for a moonshot vision for gender equality.”

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Joyce said there were about 190 female pilots across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar. This represented about five per cent of all pilots at the airline group.
“We can’t dismiss this gap by saying that family commitments make a career as a pilot unsuitable for a woman,” Joyce said.
“Not when we know that our cabin crew have similar rosters and 68 per cent of our flight attendants are women.”
As Walton notes in his story, the task of attracting more women to typically male-dominated areas represented the greatest challenge facing Australia’s aviation industry as it looks to meet the demand for future years.
Further details on the Virgin Australia pilot cadetship program are available on the airline’s website. Applications close on June 3 2018.
The May 2018 edition of Australian Aviation features a number of stories on women in aviation. It is on sale at newsstands now, or available for digital download via Zinio, Issuu and the Apple app store.

54 Comments

  • Colin

    says:

    So – It won’t necessarily be the best candidate to get each position vacancy.

  • Scott

    says:

    Great work Virgin, glad to see you set the bar at 50/50 and are out of the blocks first stating this.

  • James

    says:

    Wouldn’t want to be a guy applying for VA cadetship atm. A lot of good male candidates are gonna take a hit to get that 50/50 figure

  • Ben

    says:

    50:50 doesn’t mean reducing the number of males, just increase the number of females. That’s not rocket science.

  • John

    says:

    At the moment roughly 10% of pilots are female. Even if there’s an increase of up to 20% within the next few years women still make up a minority of pilots and a minority of cadetship applicants.
    Say if 20 people are selected for this program, and 20% of applicants are female, that means that to make it a 50-50 gender split between those selected for the program,( 10 females) they would have to bypass 40 males who scored higher in the selection process than the lowest ranked female who was chosen. Doesn’t seem fair at all, nor does it qualify as only selecting people on merit.
    The only way true gender equality can be achieved and merit truly becomes the only quality for selection, is if 50% of applicants are female, then we can be assured that the people selected are truly representative of the best.

  • Lechuga

    says:

    Sounds really stupid. By all accounts there’s a pilot shortage, don’t go 50/50, take the best you can get beforehand someone else does.
    This 50/50 gender thing is stupid. If you had 70/30 male to female and had the best possible you’re doing great, if you have 30/70 male to female with the best possible you’re still doing great. Ridiculous.

  • Lucas

    says:

    Unbelievable! the political correctness is getting out hand in this country…. what next, quotas to have a percentage of transgender pilots??
    I understand many years ago, women found it extremely difficult to get into the industry however times have changed and everyone now has a level playing field. Theses positions should go to the best candidates, gender is not a determining factor when it comes to flying an aircraft.
    I don’t see this level of pushing for gender equality in any other industry, the fact that a certain gender is attracted to a certain industry is just personal reference. The same reason why some industries are mainly dominated by females.
    As a professional pilot, I have flown with many talented women, who have worked their backsides to be where they are, just like most pilots. Bypassing more suitable candidates based only on gender, is demoralising for individuals, and the industry as a whole.

  • Adrian

    says:

    Sexism in the name of equality. Note how none of the photos are even 50/50??Quotas discriminate against people based on gender, Why not just hire the best people regardless of gender?? Your last magazine was just PC nonsense Australian Aviation, I might unsubscribe, Keep it about the planes!!! Not interested in a leftist political agenda, There is enough of that nonsense in regular media!!

  • Ash

    says:

    So they are basically going to end up with a significant proportion of their pilots dropping out in a few years on maternity leave when they could have hired males who would continue flying.
    I can’t wait for this madness to end.

  • Sam

    says:

    Gender discrimination

  • Greg

    says:

    If the airlines want to address gender imbalance, they should focus on helping women to get to the selection stage. Selection to enter the programme should then be free of gender bias. Discrimination against men is occurring more and more frequently. What is the gender ratio for flight attendants and is there a 50/50 quota there?

  • Ben II

    says:

    Agree with most of the above comments – this is madness
    @John in particular makes a very very good point. I work in a recruitment role. Any selection process that is not based on merit is simply not equitable and you are not going to get the best person for the job (be they male or female).
    If 50% of the applicants were female then the process has maybe some chance of working, but then if that’s the case you don’t have a problem in the first place. Even then though the merit of all candidates being split absolutely evenly between genders can’t be guaranteed. Any cohort of applicants can have varying levels of suitability for any role. To have a target based on gender you are never going to get the best people for the job. Especially when the genders aren’t equally represented in the initial applicant pool.
    This isn’t gender equality – it’s an attempt to arrive at a result on the basis of a non merit based selection methodology.
    This is actually bordering on social engineering which can lead to going down a very slippery slope.
    When will people accept any gender can be over or under represented, depending on the industry you’re looking at.
    I’m not sexist. If a female is the best person for the job, they should be offered it. However if you want true equality between genders, males have to also be given job offers based on merit. They shouldn’t be rated unsuitable for a position they are highly suitable for, on the simple basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Anyone who can’t see the flaws in this gender target is kidding themselves.
    I read my latest issue of AA magazine with interest: A special focus on women in aviation. This is fantastic, however I wonder in the interest of true equality, you may be running a special focus on men in aviation in a future issue?

  • David

    says:

    As a male dominated environment, yes change is required. Reading all the against comments above, all scribed my males, you all note archaic ideals. The fact that General Aviation operators I have seen are discriminatory on gender on a very regular basis. The whole concept of a ‘female’ pilot automatically puts them in the trash file.
    This opportunity to offer position to capable woman is a no brainer. Its time that people realise that on an operational perspective the ‘female’ resource is an untapped market for the future of flying. The woman I have flown with from my experience are far superior from their flying capabilities, CRM and generally inclusive.
    And this is the reason after 2 decades in the industry I happy to hear the boys club is being pushed a little out of its comfort zone. Still a long way to go.

  • Darren

    says:

    I don’t think its a good idea with this 50/50.
    Airlines should hire candidates for direct entry or cadetship purely on whether or not they meet or are above minimum requirements not whether they are male or female. PERIOD

  • Anonymous

    says:

    Its fantastic that airlines are trying to encourage women to pursue careers as pilots. In saying that, airline recruiters are ostracising male pilots, who make up the vast majority of their pool of candidates. I myself as a young aviator, feel that I may lose opportunities to join airlines based on the fact that I am male. It sounds bizarre! But the fact of the matter is that in ALL the recruitment campaigns for Australian airlines we see more women than men, and it seems like a male pilot is no longer as valuable. I know the airlines would detest this, however they NEED to communicate that male pilots are still valuable assets. It is very trendy at the moment to recruit female pilots… but the discussion point in the crew room and in the cockpit is that “If you want to get into an airline these days, you have to be female”. Its obviously a NONSENSE statement but the fact that people feel this way is enough to say that there is an issue!
    You know what the ironic part about it is too. The female pilots I do fly with comment on how they feel patronised by this campaign. They know they are as good as us and they don’t want to feel like they are getting special treatment. I admire female pilots but I don’t think airline recruiters do!

  • Richard

    says:

    I stay away from Qantas because I object to Mr Joyce forcing his opinions down my neck.
    Nevertheless, I want the best pilot flying the aeroplane and I don’t care if the pilot is male or female.
    If there is one skerrick of evidence that Virgin are putting pilots in the cockpit for any reason other than that pilot’s competence as a pilot, then back to Qantas for me.

  • Robert

    says:

    It appears that they are more than happy to push for more females into the more desirable jobs. What about airport ramp jobs? Are they trying to increase the number of females there? Or are they trying to increase the number of males who are flight attendants?
    I work in a male dominated industry and the few female workers we have are bloody excellent. And they aboubulely hate this massive push for gender targets.

  • David

    says:

    This is an absolute disgrace and embarrassment for virgin Australia and for equality in general. It diminishes the efforts and merit based achievements of all female pilots to date and introduces sexual discrimination in a bid to eradicate it – can anyone see the irony? If you don’t want sexual discrimination in the workplace, why mention male or female at all?! That is the only fair way forward.
    Absolute insanity and for anyone who supports it, are you really about equal opportunity or just biased and manipulated equal outcomes? If it’s the latter then you are discriminatory at heart and you probably don’t even know it.
    For shame.

  • GBRGB

    says:

    What a sad sad place we have moved to in this country. So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut , just ridiculous.

  • James

    says:

    @ GBRGB
    You hit the nail on the head. Well said. We need to promote this industry to both males and females. We are facing a shortage of people. Aircraft don’t care if a male or female is driving/maintaining it.
    Artificially solving this “problem” is utter stupidity.

  • Samual

    says:

    This is all very goo but I would prefer a policy of getting the best aircrew regards of gender.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @David – (First David – from 10:10 am today)
    You note it’s a male dominated industry. Some industries are male dominated and some are female dominated. If we’re going to apply a 50/50 gender recruitment rule for airlines, we may as well do it across the whole economy. This way you’d be looking at recruiting more males to nursing until it hits 50/50. Equally you’d be looking at more females in construction or defence until those industries hit 50/50. The list could go on, name your industry.
    As per my initial post that isn’t going to get the best people for the job, especially when the original pool of applicants is not weighted 50/50 to start with. @GBRGB says it best:
    ‘So 500 males and 50 females apply for 100 cadetships, all 50 women get in regardless of skill level and best 50 of the 500 males make the cut, just ridiculous’
    Therein lies the problem and I agree, it is just ridiculous.
    If we want true equality and the best people for the job, the best qualified people, regardless of if they are male or female, should get the job. Gender should not be a factor.
    I’m an aviation enthusiast and don’t work in the industry. However as mentioned I work in a recruitment role. I actually work in a female dominated workplace. There’s only 2 other males in my immediate team. My line manager and general manager are both female as is the CEO of the organisation.
    @David You mention a ‘boys club’ in the aviation industry. I could just as easily mention a ‘girls club’ in my own workplace. Having said that, it doesn’t bother me. It’s a job, it pays the bills and the mortgage and enables me to be a frequent flyer – bonus 🙂
    I’m happy to hear you’ve been in the aviation industry for 2 decades and it appears from your post, you are a pilot. I sincerely wish you all the best throughout your career.and also sincerely hope that should you apply for a job in the future that you are offered that job on your own merits and hard work – not denied the job because you are male.
    Equally if there is a female who has an equal amount of merit and has put in the same amount of hard work, she should have just as much an opportunity of securing the same position.
    That is true equality – not quota systems based on gender. This kind of quota system is discrimination plain and simple. Some people may call it positive discrimination, but it’s still discrimination. Discrimination no matter what name you give it is not equality.

  • alan

    says:

    i note all this PC going on in australia at the detrimement of the best person for the job which most comments have suggested.
    there is no push to have a 50/50 ratio by the PCs for the not so glamorous jobs in aviation as throwing bags on the ramp and honey cart drivers on the ramp.
    very selective in the descrimination area of which jobs which seems ironic and no one mentions.
    the PC push is for the desirable jobs in airline management and pilots.
    and i suspect this is going on in all industries in australia and the defence forces.
    obviously there are very talented women who should be encoured at the same time as there very talented male colleagues..
    PC is a threat to the best person for the job.
    and why all this publicity/advertising to find applicants for pilots?
    any one who is enthusiastic and really wants to be a pilot knows exactly where he needs to go and what to do to become a pilot.
    enthusiasm should be part of the criteria.

  • Marc

    says:

    I can’t get a look-in for the Australian netball team.

  • Darren

    says:

    HA HA 🙂
    @Marc

  • David

    says:

    First time I’ve heard of political correctness being a requirement in the cockpit. I would have thought Branson’s overly progressive ideology would have been better in the front counter or cabin staff where it doesn’t really matter either way. I would much rather have a pilot who’s a competent qualified pilot than one that got there more because of their sexual identity.
    Oh well, I’ll just fly airlines that don’t make ludicrous, over-the-top virtue-signalling statements about who their pilots are.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Marc – that’s gold 🙂
    Come to think of it if you apply it to sporting teams, by this logic there should be equal representation between men and women in all sporting teams. Rather than separate men’s and women’s competitions. There might be a bit of an issue with teams where there are an odd number of players in the team: Rugby League is 13 players – it would have to be split 7/6 or dear one gender is going to be under represented. Rugby Union is 15 so would have to be split 8/7. Shock horror – what is going to be done about the inequality. AFL would be OK though – 9 players from each gender. I say this tongue in cheek of course, but it just goes to illustrate how absolutely ludicrous such targets are.
    To achieve absolute true ‘equality’ though – the above must take place. I don’t see the same targets being applied to the less glamours jobs though as others have said. Why isn’t there the same targets for ramp staff or engineers. Why isn’t there an outcry over the under representation of women amongst garbage collectors or labourers.
    Utter PC madness.

  • NJP

    says:

    Equality needs to exclude the potential for / perception of unconscious bias:
    The selection panel Should be made up of a 50:50 mix male & females and (to be politically correct) the first round of candidate selection should include a 50:50 mix of applicants. Then from that point on, only the best candidates move forwards, regardless of gender.
    Excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages along with the colour of someone’s skin or their choice of partner.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @NJP
    I have no problem with a selection panel having a 50/50 mix of males and females.
    I do have a problem with the first round candidate selection having 50/50 mix of applicants. If there are more overall applicants from one gender than another then you run the risk of excluding qualified candidates on the basis of their gender.
    I agree with you that excluding people based on their potential to have a baby or the potential they will take paternity leave belongs in the dark ages, This can also be said about skin colour, choice of partner etc. No problem there whatsoever.
    However excluding a perfectly qualified male candidate, simply because their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool, should also belong in the dark ages. Read the point that @ GBRGB made so well. This is nothing short of discrimination and just as bad as excluding someone because they are a woman, because they can have a baby because of skin colour etc.
    Truly equitable applicant selection, at whatever part of the process, should be based on the merit of that application and merit alone. Gender should not be a factor. If you start looking at targets or quotas for a process you risk excluding suitable candidates. Your selection of applicants should be based entirely on who the best person for the job is. Not on gender or any other factors.

  • Jo

    says:

    To Colin, Scott, James, Ben, John, Lechuga, Lucas, Adrian, Ash, Sam, Greg, Ben II, David, Darren, Richard, Robert, David, GBRGB, Samual, Alan……
    You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem.
    No where in the Article did Virgin Australia so it was going to take 50% woman no matter what their skills, it says they are ‘Aiming’ for a 50% female intake. QANTAS said they are committing to 20% intake but it is still ‘Merit-based’.
    There is a global pilot shortage, airlines are parking planes. The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone. There are a lot of young females of the future that will make amazing pilots. Virgin and QANTAS are trying to encourage and find those that hadn’t thought of it as an option and make sure you end up with a competent skilled pilot up the front.
    I am also a female pilot, love my job and thoroughly enjoy working with men and women. When people find out I work for an airline, their first assumption is that I’m cabin crew. There is a gender bias out there, if these promotions help to improve that, bring it on.
    PS: Marc, go for it, but you did you know there is a ‘Men’s Netball Team’

  • James

    says:

    @ Jo
    No Jo. You don’t get it.
    They won’t aim at 50:50, they’ll nail it.
    Promote the industry to everyone, not just women.

  • Sam

    says:

    @Jo
    No one is denying that there’s are too few female pilots, but setting a quota, even if it is just an ‘aim’ is entirely the wrong way to go about it. Airlines need to go to grass roots level such as speaking at careers nights at high schools and getting the message out there that this job is for everyone. Whats between your legs shouldn’t factor into whether you are suitable for a job.

  • Curious

    says:

    Will they apply the same policy to the Cabin Crew?

  • James

    says:

    For all the people decrying the large amount of men commenting here, I imagine it has a lot to do with Australian Aviation’s reader statistics. You can’t disqualify their opinions based on sex, because this issue impacts men as well as women.
    However, on that note, I definitely welcome hearing from more women on here, even if I do not agree.

  • Lucas

    says:

    To Jo,
    You say that ‘The airlines are going out to the schools and universities to say this is a job for everyone.’ You can do this till you’re blue in the face.
    Most pilots I know got into aviation because they knew at a very early age that this was what they wanted to do. I am a strong believer that in order to make a career in aviation you need passion for the job, I have seen many people leave aviation because they simply didn’t have that desire.
    Most parts of aviation are not very glamorous, despite what the public thinks. Some people would not handle the work/life commitments that come with the job. Others would hate the idea of every six months getting your flying ability scrutinised in the simulator, and constant study.
    My point being is that you are only going to attract a certain person to aviation, and by setting quotas you are effectively discouraging other candidates, making the pilot shortage worse.
    And if you want to talk about gender equality in sport, let’s see if the girls are willing to change the rules in tennis making everyone play the same number of sets to win a match?

  • Ash

    says:

    @Jo: “You just don’t get it. How many female names are in these comments? That is the problem”.
    1- Why is that a or ‘the’ problem?
    2- Is this not highly instructive?
    It’s as if women believe that men have clandestine meetings in Mason halls where we secretly learn about aviation and if only the industry was promoted to women, then more women would be interested.
    Reality dictates otherwise. The reason 99% of the comments on this site are from males is because men and women are different and generally like different things.
    Good luck with your war on science and biology, and I look forward to a 50:50 gender mix in the baggage handling department….because equality, right?

  • hhee

    says:

    Well Jo, what are they going to do to ‘aim’ for their 50:50 target? Do nothing and hope that they just happen to reach it by chance? If they do indeed base their recruitment entirely on merit, they will never get anywhere near 50:50. There are simply not enough females interested.
    The reason that most of the comments here would be by males is because the majority of those interested in Aviation are males. It’s not a reflection of any bias within the gender subject. There are plenty of females around who share the opinion that recruitment should not have any variation allowed for gender.
    As for a general pilot shortage, if there is one (people are always saying there’s one), I suspect it is merely due to recruitment/training not keeping pace with industry growth. NOT from a lack of suitable applicants. There are always stacks of people wanting to be pilots (nearly all male). I’m pretty sure there’s an article somewhere here about Qantas’ new academy receiving over 9000 expressions of interest within two weeks of it being announced. Probably over 8000 of those were males. I expect there are enough suitable applications just from males alone to meet any shortage but if the Airlines are hiring enough of them, that is a separate subject.`

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Jo
    While I respect your opinion, as others have said I really think you’re the one who doesn’t get it. Take time to read what I and others have said. We’re not saying anything that could be labelled as sexist or misogynistic (myself definitely not) in fact I think I’ve said several times that women should be offered jobs if they are the best people for the jobs. As should men – that’s true equality.
    I won’t add much more to what I’ve said, I stand by all of my comments and I’ll let them speak for themselves. I will make some more points though – out of this mad PC idea:
    * I can’t help the fact that I’m a man – nor will I apologise for it.
    * Due to being a man I’m still entitled to an opinion and I will express it. Others, be they male or female are entitled to agree or disagree with me. That’s great – it’s called freedom of speech and should be celebrated.
    * You mention the high number of comments here from males. Well I presume that the vast majority of magazine subscribers and people commenting on the website are male. What next? AA magazine to mandate a 50:50 gender split in it’s registered subscribers? Or me who hasn’t got around to renewing a long lapsed subscription, when I go and buy my copy at the newsagent each month, they’ll say ‘Sorry Ben, can’t sell this to you as too many males have bought a copy this month.’
    * Even better still, how about an idea of mandating that 50% of the comments on the website must come from females. Most of the articles would be restricted to one comment each.
    I’ve said this tongue in cheek of course, as with some of my other comments. However it goes to illustrate the point of how outrageous these targets and quotas are.
    The airline isn’t looking at these targets tongue in cheek though, they’re serious about them and due to that, they risk excluding highly qualified candidates on the basis that their gender is over represented in the initial applicant pool. Absolutely utter madness.

  • James

    says:

    Jo, The program still requires an applicant to be assessed for the intake. Gender quotas are BS. An good applicant is a good applicant. There may be more good male applications and is the reason gender quotas are BS. By trying to ‘even up the playing field’, actually does the opposite. Male and females have different interests and are generally are better at some things than others. Biology dictates this.

  • Nathan

    says:

    Given that the HR department who thought up this (discriminatory) policy is largely female dominated, will there be a 50/50 gender split for all HR jobs going forward?
    Are over a decade in the industry I honestly despair at the direction it is heading. Perhaps only a civi law suit will stop this insanity.

  • Rob

    says:

    Nice thought, but the math does not add up. If you want true equality, then make everyone achieve the same standards to enter the course. The question is, in order to fill this insane ‘quota’, will VA put in place different benchmarks according to sex?

  • Hahn

    says:

    Ridiculous, I will be moving back to Qantas for all my business flights, can’t take the chance that Virgin is flown by the less than best candidate pilots. Just very bad as a business decision to pander to the crazy left.

  • Jo

    says:

    To my responders, thank you. I also wholly agree that it should be the best candidate gets the job.
    Yes you do need to love the job; I give that advice to anyone looking at becoming a pilot, as you will quit if you don’t like it, plus have an enormous debt.
    You don’t need to have wanted to be a pilot since an early age. Some of the most interesting pilots I fly with are those (which includes myself) who have had a career before becoming a pilot. We know how lucky we are to have this job.
    My point is though; girls/women not seeing female pilots means it is often not even a thought as a career option.
    There is a pilot shortage, airlines are struggling to crew their schedules. The airlines would not be doing this if they really had a pilot glut.
    If this promotion can increase the pilot pool and improve the gender equality, bring it on.

  • hhee

    says:

    Jo,
    You are again confusing a pilot shortage with an applicant shortage.
    Do you have any sources at all to suggest there is an applicant shortage?
    There are stacks of applications made for each and every cadet pilot position on offer. Qantas already has thousands of applicants for their upcoming program and they aren’t even taking anyone on for a year.
    If the airlines want to take more on, all they have to do is increase the intake size.
    The reason airlines might be struggling to crew schedules is because their intakes are too small and they aren’t training up enough people. NOT because there aren’t enough suitable applicants.
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Raymond

    says:

    ^^ This:
    As for gender equality, if you sampled the general population and asked them how many were interested in a career as a pilot, what proportion of those interested would you expect to be female? Around 5%? Or around 50%? If it’s around 5% we already have gender equality as the proportion of those interested matches the proportion of those actually doing it.
    You cannot expect a 50:50 gender split when most females simply are not interested. It will never happen. It’ll never even come close. I’m actually surprised it’s even at 5%. Unless of course, preference is given to female applicants.

  • Anthony

    says:

    Hey All
    Airlines are trying to create an equal workplace by ensuring women are more represented on the flightdeck.
    It is a problem when Im in the flightdeck and the captain stops my briefing to point out a nice pair of legs walking up the stairs.
    It is a problem when a female pilot makes a radio call and the captain says “her voice is so annoying. Im a female hear me roar”.
    It is a problem when in GA I hand my boss 10 male resumes and he reads them all. I hand him 1 females resume and he says “nah mate I don’t hire ladies. Did that once and it didn’t work out”.
    The point im trying to make is without females in the industry this type of behaviour continues and its an endless cycle. Most of the comments I’ve read on this article assume that the system employers use is merit based and its far from it. If a female applicant meets the minimum standards there is no reason they shouldn’t be given the job even if a male achieved a higher standard. I say this because I see in recruitment men always getting jobs above others more qualified and skilled.
    Virgin Australia stating their aim for 50/50 will only encourage more women to start flying. As long as the applicants that get through meet the standards there will be no issues.
    Others speak of female dominated indurstries like nursing and make comments such as “well when are they going to introduce a 50/50 split there”. This makes no sense because male nurses most likely don’t face the same barriers as females do. Male nurses probably don’t get told to “check out those nice legs” whilst in the workplace.
    These “quotas” may be short lived and be the catalyst that drives changes to the aviation workplace. Hopefully 100 years from now we won’t have to be dealing with this. If measures arent introduced like they are unfortunately many women still won’t be getting jobs in Aviation and us men will still be saying “its because they don’t want to”

  • Mac Carter

    says:

    With the looming flight crew, cabin crew and technical personnel shortage, there is no way known that a potential employer, wether they be an airline, flight school or MRO would bypass a suitably qualified male trainee, cadet or fully licensed flight / cabin crew simply to achieve gender equality.
    Having carefully read the current issue of Australian Aviation, including the “focus on women in aviation” segments, It appears to me that employers in the aviation industry do not want to discriminate against male applicants to achieve gender equality, however want more female applicants to fill the soon to be vacant positions.
    Long term gender equality within the aviation industry might be achieved by this approach.
    I was most interested in the segment which featured Captain Veronica Binns .
    This lady should be very proud of her achievements.
    It is my firm belief that the segment dedicated to Captain Binns will inspire young ladies who might not have considered a career in aviation.

  • Ben II

    says:

    @Anthony – I also stand by my comments re: 50/50 targets in other industries like nursing. If gender targets are OK for pilots and if they work (and I’m not saying they do). Then for a true level playing field they need to be applied across all jobs in all industries If you apply these targets though, and strictly adhere to an idea that every applicant pool for every job in the country must have a 50/50 gender split, you’re not going to get the best people for the job in any industry.
    If gender targets are such a great idea they should be based equally on every job in the country. You say that male nurses don’t face the same barriers as females do. I’m not so sure about that. Nursing or any other job/industry naturally may have one gender over represented in it’s ranks. I’d probably say there’s still some societal bias or stigma against male nurses. A man who truly has a career desire to be a nurse probably does face barriers/stigma in obtaining work, or at the very least has a realisation that his gender is very under represented in his chosen career. I suppose this is the same for females being pilots.
    There’s probably naturally going to always be more females being interested in nursing and more males being interested in being pilots. That’s why gender targets in any industry won’t work. People in any industry need to be assessed on merit, not gender.
    If there is a problem in the aviation industry re: male recruiters deliberately not selecting female applicants simply because they’re female then this is not acceptable. To change, it requires a change in culture, but it’s not going to be achieved by imposing targets. The males that are making these decisions, should probably not be in the jobs they’re in. However I would consider it probably an impossibility to go around to every GA business in the country to audit their recruitment practices. The most practical way for this to change is for anyone to speak up and say it is unacceptable.when they see it happen.
    In my own recruitment/HR job I still hear comments from both male and female managers around maternity leave that would be deemed unacceptable. When this occurs we have to point out the discrimination and sometimes direct managers to make decisions they’re not comfortable with. I work in a large organisation, so this is probably easier to do than pointing out unacceptable behaviour in the GA sector or most small businesses.
    Targets won’t work though as they’re still discrimination. What will work is assessing applications based on merit and cultural change where it’s required.

  • James

    says:

    @ Ben II
    Very true and very well said.

  • Anthony

    says:

    @Ben II
    I agree with most of what you said. However, changing the culture of an organisation is not easy and simply directing managers who are discriminating is ineffective in changing the company culture. You could even remove these people from their positions only to replace them with men who hold the same views. Its very difficult to screen for this when recuiting the recruiters.
    If you have an acceptable standard for airline pilots that are met by female applicants and you believe as a company that employing them will help change the culture of your company then why is this not acceptable. Is it unacceptable to employ someone with less merit but you truly believe their passion and determination and personality will make them a better fit for the companies future? What if their gender is merit because the current company culture is steering women away from the cockpit.
    If Virgin Australia said we are not hiring men I would see a big problem. If VA can actually find a 50/50 ratio in one small area of their recruitment pools (cadetships) who meet the high standards for the role advertised and can change the current culture then good luck to them.

  • Gary Spencer Salt

    says:

    So its not passion or skill, its gender that decides if you get into that left seat. My instructor died chasing twin time in New Guinea in the 1980’s desperate to get to that left seat , flying was a passion and that takes more than reading a check list, this is how a crews fly a plane through 25000 feet with the most basic of problems – a stall – low airspeed high rate sink = flying 101. Selection on gender just weakens the skill pool with the inevitable lowering of standards over time for all.

  • Jim

    says:

    I don’t want to board any aircraft where the pilot, male or female wasn’t chosen on ability rather than gender. Choosing any pilot on gender is not only stupid it is highly dangerous.

  • Charlie Andrew

    says:

    I am interested but how can I be admitted into the program?

  • Shoulder Shrug

    says:

    I know of more than a few good pilots who have been given a no from virgin in recent years – some left in the dark post overview, not hearing either way. Others told they don’t have enough ‘enthusiasm’ for the role. Yet here we are talking about how to convince/entice enough people to join the industry?

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