Male Maintenance Professionals Don’t Like Women Maintenance Professionals

Male Maintenance Professionals Don’t Like Women Maintenance Professionals

The title says it all. Go ahead and admit it out loud. Male maintenance professionals don’t like women maintenance professionals and don’t want them in the industry. They do everything they can to make the work experience of women in the hangar miserable, or worse, untenable so they will quit or move on. Convince me otherwise. Men don’t even want women to be aircraft mechanics at all. All the talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aviation maintenance industry is BS. If you are not a Caucasian man, you aren’t welcome in aviation maintenance. I can’t say it any more clearly than this.

There’s no doubt that being a female mechanic comes with a set of challenges like no other. In this largely male-dominated profession, women may find themselves facing stereotypes and discrimination, and they may find it difficult to find mentors and role models who can help them navigate their career. And those are the good and easy parts of being a woman in aviation maintenance.

Women working in male-dominated industries face a variety of challenges in addition to sexual harassment. Some of those challenges include societal expectations and beliefs that question women’s leadership and managerial abilities. Still to this day, deeply ingrained stereotypes exist, even though companies talk about how welcoming and open they are. It often leads women to take on necessary but rarely rewarded ancillary duties like “office housework” that can take away from their real job duties.

Here are some lived examples of things women have experienced in our beloved industry as stated by women in the industry. “Finding a job where a female feels welcome is a challenge,” said one woman who runs a training business and is both a pilot, flight instructor, and A&P mechanic. “I rarely feel welcome as a customer so feeling welcome as an employee is a real challenge.”

Another woman mechanic reported being alone in a work truck with another mechanic on the job. He said to her, “Women have no business in aviation, your t*ts and cl*t make you a distraction.” The woman mechanic contacted that company’s human resources department to report the incident, which would have made anyone uncomfortable in a professional workplace. The vice president of the company spoke with the man but did not speak to her. A message was passed down that she must have misunderstood him. Stories like this abound and leaving one toxic environment can mean starting from ground zero at another.

Reports of being harassed, both sexual harassment and general harassment, are part and parcel for women mechanics. Being stalked by fellow employees has been reported. Having co-workers trash the reputation of female mechanics has been reported.

When I reached out to another career female mechanic and asked if she had stories to share about the work environment being difficult for women in aviation maintenance she replied, “Every work night, Joy. [And for] my whole 24-year career. Where oh where to begin. Stronger for it but frankly tired of the BS.”

Another female pilot/mechanic reported that while she was flying an Aztec with some serious issues she had to go to the FSDO. The inspector told her “I’ll give you a ferry permit because I know you can’t find an A&P to sign it off.” He never imagined that a 20-year-old female pilot could also be an A&P. How dismissive.

When one woman became eligible for her IA and went to the FAA to take the test, the inspector refused to administer it. This woman was a pilot, air traffic controller, and mechanic. “I had more than four airplanes registered in my name. [Ultimately] FAA legal ordered him to administer the test.” Can you imagine the wasted energy spent on taking this through FAA legal when all you want to do is improve your standing with an additional qualification that is clearly defined and standardized? Either you can pass the test or you cannot. She passsed.

Many experienced women report being second guessed, talked over, and relegated to tool holding and doing documentation. “It’s been a struggle for me since I started in the field,” said another woman A&P. She is now wondering how long she can hold on to the dream of working in this field.

“I will forewarn [any woman entering the aviation maintenance field] should be prepared for pervy looks, jokes, and harassment,” one woman mechanic replied to my query. Why is this necessary? Are we pledging a fraternity or keeping aircraft safe to fly?

As a lead mechanic, one woman reported taking new hires up to the flight deck to talk to the crew about issues and saying that the pilots will talk to the new person who is male. The new guy doesn’t know the answers to the questions, so the pilot will ask to talk to the lead. There she is, standing right in front of them with LEAD MECHANIC on her shirt. She said most pilots see straight through her, like she is a ghost. So it is not just other mechanics but pilots as well.

One company, SR Technics, recently introduced the “Women on Wings” (WOW) initiative, an endeavor aimed at promoting the growth of a diverse, and inclusive workforce within the company. “By offering a network platform, mentoring programs, and increased visibility within the company, SR Technics aims to support its current and future female workforce in reaching new heights of success,” the company says.

“We are committed to fostering an environment where every individual’s talents and contributions are valued and encouraged,” says Caroline Vandedrinck, chairwoman of WOW and senior vice president of SR Technics. “Collaboration is key to our success and it’s inspiring to see so many talented women leading the way.” The company says it believes that by nurturing an environment where every voice is not only heard and valued then possibilities for growth and innovation will be unlocked. I hope this program soars and inspires others like it. See more from Caroline Vandedrinck in my interview with her starting on page 44.

Male maintenance professionals don’t like women maintenance professionals. Convince me otherwise.