Why India beat the world

Sarla Thakral the first female Indian Pilot
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In my previous post about female pilots, I said I will look into why India hires more female pilots than anywhere else.

There are more female pilots in India as an average, than any other place in the world. That is a fact. Everyone reported on this, from CNN, Reuters and BBC to DW and Forbes. The reason why remains elusive to me and here I am trying to understand why.

If you build it they will come

Media is quick to point to the western lookout on work. Pay and leave are the most often cited

“Pay is equal,” they point “and that attracts women.” To counter, I will offer this, pay is equal in around 50 other countries. Yet, we still don’t see that growth in numbers.

“They have long maternity leaves, 26 weeks!” When compared to the US, that is generous! To counter, I will offer this, when compared to the US maternity leave, everywhere is generous.

Norway has 35 weeks, which still doesn’t make a difference. Norwegian still has under 2% female pilots.

BBC quoting the same source as our previous post


All that talk of government interjection is looking at the issue on the surface. Journalists have to investigate more. They need a story and shouldn’t settle for the one they get. Scratching beneath revealed more to me.

Societal Issue

There is a societal issue, many are missing in their reporting. India has a long history of Matriarchy and Matrilineality. There are millions of Indians who live under such circumstances. Many more are exposed to it from a younger age. That helps prepare decision makers to support, or at least not oppose women in such fields.

I received a comment on twitter to the same effect. It mentioned that the same happened in the Middle East country of Jordan. The first two female Captains were Christian. That is in a country of around 92-98% percent Muslims. This meant that certain cultures are more accepting of the leadership of women.

I can see the same at play in India. A country whose prime minister (Indira Ghandi) was a female in 1966. Twelve years before their former occupier and modernizer, the UK elected Margaret Thatcher. The culture of women leaders was always strong in India. Moreso than the “West”

Where are they coming from

There is also another factor at play here of. That is the factor of training route. In the US, for example, there was always an excess of retiring navy, army and air force pilots to feed the airlines. These jobs are dominated by males, which leads to an influx of male pilots in the airline industry.

In contrast to the unprecedented growth of the Indian Airline industry. Civilian pilots had to train out of pocket. Noting that this career paid higher dividends compared to the national average. It made sense for more parents to invest in their daughters in this career. The average pilot in Indigo, for example, makes more a month than an average Indian makes in 3-4 years.

This pay gap is much less in the west, so the incentive to partake is less in the west.

Do you think you have another reason, please let me know.

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