Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Josephine Moffett

Second Supervisor

Janice Girardi


Despite evidence of males and females having generally comparable abilities as pilots, very few women choose this career path. According to the Federal Aviation Administration database of aviators, approximately 7% of the total pilot population in the United States is female, and 5% of professional pilot ratings are held by women. These statistics have been consistent for several decades. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to gain a better understanding of why females decide to become professional pilots. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 women who, at the time of this study, were employed or had been previously employed as professional pilots. Interviews with the participants revealed how they became interested in an aviation career and what factors played the most significant role in their decision-making process. Analysis of the data show that the participants became interested in flying for one of three reasons: influence of a role model, experience of a lived event, or a personal epiphany. These findings were then considered in a discussion of how to attract future women pilots. The information obtained from this study may contribute to an understanding of what factors are the most influential in the choice to enter aviation and how to increase the number of female pilots. Recommendations include increasing the number of role models and outreach events and educating girls about career possibilities in aviation.

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