- Mattie Bohanan
Calling ALL Girls
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
When I arrive at the airport for a normal day of flight training, the effort I put into my appearance is minimal. I don’t wear any makeup, I pull my hair into a ponytail or a bun, and I wear athletic clothes. I have always been very minimalistic when it comes to my appearance. I love dressing up and putting on make-up, but I typically reserve it for special occasions or outings. But, do I fault girls that choose to go to the airport in cute outfits and a full face of make-up? Absolutely not. Actually, I am genuinely impressed with how they can look so flawless in the 90-degree Alabama heat!
After being in a training environment for what’s going on 4+ years now, I unfortunately have heard my fair share of people’s unwarranted opinions on other’s piloting capabilities. While I have yet to explicitly hear anyone knock someone’s skillset for solely “being a girl,” I have picked up on an interesting theme. The “girly” pilots’ skills get dismissed more than any other type of person. And the worst part is this: I hear a lot of these comments from other girls. Girls - we can and need to do better!
Aviation has historically been male dominated, so I think that a lot of people inside and outside of the industry have falsely assumed that if a girl wants to be in aviation, they can’t be girly. If you are girly, you are perceived as unauthoritative and too superficial to get down and dirty with the systems. The idea is that if you want to be in aviation, you better get ready to be “one of the boys.” When in reality, if you want to be “one of the boys,” great. If you don’t want to, then also great.
Inclusiveness doesn’t come from just having all genders in our industry. Inclusiveness comes from having and welcoming all types of personalities. However you chose to express yourself and what you do to make yourself feel confident should not hinder your piloting reputation. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I liked aviation. It was concrete. Good piloting skills are good piloting skills regardless of who they come from, and everyone meets the same requirements to get the same qualifications.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that this type of “flight school gossip” is wrong to any type of student. A flight school is a flight school for a reason. People are in training. They are going to make mistakes, and the training environment is the place to go ahead and make those mistakes. But, by repetitively focusing on the “pretty” girls, aviation is not going to become the inclusive industry that it needs to be.
Mattie is a CFII at Auburn University, where she recently graduated with a degree in Professional Flight. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Mattie is looking forward to a successful and fulfilling career as a professional pilot whether it be in the business aviation industry or the airline industry.