Aviation for Women

MAY-JUN 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

Issue link: https://afwdigital.epubxp.com/i/971871

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Page 44 of 52

42 AviationforWomen M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 Just One of the Guys D E V A N A . N O R R I S S ome days I am convinced that I am go- ing to lose my "girl card." I'm not a fan of shopping or interpersonal drama. I don't really understand high fashion, and I hate spending more than $50 on a new purse. While many of us might not personally follow the conventions of the female stereotypes, we are still not dudes. Thank heavens. We are wom- en, and we are aviators. To the outside world, we are still an anomaly—something unusual and even special. But regardless of how the world at large sees us, when we are at work many of us have a strong habit of doing our best to blend in and be unobtrusive as women, believing that we are perceived as just "one of the guys." It is probably good to understand that while we may think we are succeeding at this trick, the men may sometimes feel quite differently. Most days, I am able to convince myself that the ability to nail an approach makes me the same as my co-workers. Or wearing the same outfit makes us look alike and laughing at the same jokes means that we find the same stuff f u n ny. Doing ever y t hing ex act ly t he s a me makes me just like them, right? Most of the time, yes. But it is easy to forget that although we do the same job and wear (mostly) the same uniforms, the men we work with can sometimes be hyper-aware that there is a female on the flight deck. From time to time that awareness can affect some men's demeanor—both on and off the clock. Over time one develops a pretty good sense of the "vibe" of a crew. You know soon after meet- ing if you will have a good time talking together and maybe going out during the layover, or that it might be a very long trip as you struggle for conversation and mentally plan on what movie you will watch in your hotel room. Regardless of how well you seem to get on, in the current atmosphere of sexual mistrust some of our co- workers are choosing to spend the evenings solo rather than risk any comments or activities that might be misconstrued. According to an article on Fortune.com this February, men are now 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work din- ner with a female colleague than a male one— and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a woman. Since airline life is trav- eling for work, and every layover is a work din- ner, it is easy to understand that we can be an involuntary cause of concern or stress for our male counterparts. Both men and women walk a pretty fine line these days, often finding it easier to spend the evening on their own rather than worr ying about an issue of impropriety. This is not gen- erally something that comes up for a same-sex crew. I will be the first to admit that getting to fly with another woman often has a completely different atmosphere than flying with the men. It is usually fun and relaxed, and the topics of conversation tend to be on a slightly different spectrum than what you would expect when you are flying with guys. For us girls this experience is rare enough to be the exception, not the rule. For men, that experience is the rule—and our presence alters it. If we are having a girls' night and someone brings their boyfriend or husband, it changes the whole dynamic of the evening. Some of our co-workers feel like that all the time when we are around. Historically, men have used their workplace not just as a place to earn a living but also as their de facto social group. Traditionally this has been a social group comprised solely of oth- er men, giving them an opportunity to spend time with people who they perceived to share a whole range of common interests and experi- ences. During this time of change, perhaps we would do well to treat our male counterparts with a measure of patience, understanding that while we are working hard to create a new reali- ty for ourselves, the world that they have known is changing forever. It is a complex and delicate world that we choose to live in. We work hard to build our skills, achieve, and excel in our chosen field; de- velop an identity as a professional; and become a seamless member of a primarily masculine team—while not losing sight of who we are as individuals and as women. While it is useful and understandable to try hard to keep a low profile, it will take years—and probably a lot more wom- en joining the field—before we are truly "one of the guys." ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devan A. Norris, WAI 13890, is a first officer for a major airline on the Boeing 757/767, and an apprentice air show air boss. According to an article on Fortune.com this February, men are now 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work dinner with a fe- male colleague than a male one— and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a woman. I N T H E P U S H

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