iWOAW Calls On The FAA To Watch Its Words

FAA certification standards shade gender-neutral name to take on a gender-specific name.

Acccording to the FAA, women involved in aviation are airmenNew FAA certification standards for Private Pilots and Instrument-rated Pilots came into effect today. Previously known as Practical Test Standards, the new standards got a new name: Airman Certification Standards.

In its rational for choosing a gender-specific name to replace the previous gender-neutral name, the FAA notes that it uses the terms AIRMAN or AIRMEN routinely in its publications.

Indeed, according to the latest U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics published by the FAA, out of an estimated 1,318,368 civil ‘airmen’, the number of active ‘women airmen’ certificates held at the end of 2015 stood at 222,546 including 2,289 repairmen.

As of June 2016, medical certificates issued by the FAA continue to require an AIRMAN’s Signature. Luckily for all the airwomen that pilot aircraft, pilot certificates require the Signature of Holder.

For the first time in American aviation history, the number of U.S. female commercial pilots – Commercial and Airline Transport pilot certificate holders – has decreased by 784 since its peak number of 13,925 in 2009. 105 years after Lilian Bland became the world’s first woman to design, build, and pilot an airplane, the percentage of female aircraft technicians – Mechanics plus Repairmen – stood at only 2.8% last December.

The Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) believes that it is urgent for the air and space industry to stop routinely using words that effectively exclude half of the population and act as a barrier to the increased participation of women.

It calls on the FAA to lead the shift to inclusive phraseology starting with giving the newly released certification standards a gender-neutral name and continuing with actively adopting gender-neutral phraseology throughout its publications.

“Since 2010, the WOAW movement has effectively worked at erasing the common perception among girls and women that the industry’s technical occupations and hobbies are off-limit for them,” said Mireille Goyer, President of the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) and a ‘woman airman’ holding an FAA Airline Transport Pilot certificate. “It is critical that our industry becomes mindful of how it presents itself if we are to generate substantial growth to address the looming personnel shortage.”

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