Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reflecting Upon Women's History Month

Since this is National Women’s History Month, I think it’s only appropriate for me to look back over my many (now 33+) interesting, exciting, challenging and rewarding years of flying commercially (not to mention the previous 9 years it took to accumulate enough flying time to get hired at a major airline).

Yes, “we’ve come along way, baby,” as the saying goes and it’s interesting to note some of the yardsticks that remind me of just how far we’ve come. I won’t have time to describe all the major accomplishments of women in various fields, including space, science, medicine, sports and technology, just to name a few, but what I notice is the natural acceptance of women in what is really a gender-neutral field. In the past I used to quip to myself, when an occasional passenger would give me a shocked look as he (or she!) deplaned, “Why should you care who’s flying this bird? When you find an airplane that can tell you the sex of the person who’s flying it, I’ll stop!” These days, most everyone is in the “thumbs up” mode when they learn a woman is at the controls. They know that our skills are equal to or (many cases) better than our male counterparts, due to the constant scrutiny we get from our peers, regulators and the public. All female crews are not uncommon, although I rarely have the opportunity to fly with another woman.

Being one of the first female airline pilots, I have seen everything from “don’t touch any switches, just sit there” commands from narrow-minded captains, to a round of applause from my passengers when we landed safely after a turbulence-filled and weather delayed flight. I enjoy seeing women move up the seniority ladder in my profession and their surprise at knowing there was a time when airline management actually asked the women pilots NOT to make pubic address announcements on the airplane for fear of scaring the passengers! I certainly hope more women will accept the challenge and follow their passions, whatever their dream may be.
My book, Flight Guide for Success, outlines the keys to moving forward quickly along your chosen path. Your goal is to find someone who will guide you and help you make that journey a smooth one. Your challenge is to show them that you ARE worth helping and that you will put their assistance to good use. My numerous tips for networking, finding jobs, marketing yourself, resume-writing, completing job applications, and interviewing apply to anyone (not just pilots) wanting to be successful in their career.

Having achieved my own dream, my goal is to help other young (or young-spirited) people by giving them the essential tools necessary to succeed in any field. I see only blue skies for today’s women if they will learn to be proactive on their own behalf. To purchase a copy of my book, Flight Guide for Success, visit my website at www.captainkarenkahn.com/order. If you’d like an autographed or personalized copy, just let me know.