Retaining Women in Collegiate Aviation by Implementing Learning Style Considerations

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Published by CSA Illumina in Collegiate Aviation Review Vol. 19, no. 1, October 2001, Pages 92-101.

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Women are clearly underrepresented in aviation. Research must be accomplished to determine which factors influence women, once they have indicated a serious interest in an aviation career, to stay in collegiate aviation programs or to leave. Addressing the issue of women's retention in aviation is one way to help address the growing commercial pilot shortage, while moving toward gender equity in this critical, national industry. Projected shortages in the commercial pilot population, coupled with the low representation of women in career pilot positions, suggest that aviation education and training institutions should re-examine the structure and organization of the aviation knowledge transfer process. Classroom enhancements could improve education methods to make them more efficient from the perspectives of increased knowledge retention, improved application to broader subjects, and reduced loss to attrition of viable pilot candidates to enter the commercial pilot workforce. This study examines how aviation education can best serve the aviation student's learning style needs. The study looks at learning style theory, from the viewpoint of the wide diversity of aviation learners who are dominantly visual, auditory, or hands-on, tactile, or kinesthetic learners, and how women's learning styles are pivotal to their success and retention in collegiate aviation. By exploring how people learn best, and then providing those learners with the tools to maximize their dominant learning styles, the next generation of pilots, both women and men, should be better prepared to enter the aviation industry and help reduce the projected commercial pilot shortages.

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