Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Shaping the "right stuff" : gender,technology and the culture of aviation
Author: Glover, Sarah L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 6536
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This thesis is an exploratory study into constructions of gender within professional aviation, in order to further understand the continued male dominance of this and other areas of work. It is a unique study, which contributes to understandings of gender identities, gender symbols and roles in the work place. This research involved interviewing and observing forty-nine pilots in the UK; twenty-eight of which were in the British Royal Air Force and twenty-one were in various civil airlines and training colleges. The data was then analysed in terms of gender symbols, gender identities and gender structures, the focus being mainly on the first two aspects. The experiences of male and female pilots were compared as well as the experiences of military and civil pilots. The notion of the 'right stuff' was used in this thesis to denote some aspects of the roles that have been created for the professional pilot to fulfil through working practices and cultural images. It is a notion that embodies various aspects of hegemonic masculinity. Images associated with aviation influence the process of becoming a pilot and are inherent to the cultures of aviation. The 'right stuff' includes the risks and pleasures of flying, which are part of aviation's attraction for many pilots. Civil and military pilots obtain different pleasures from flying, even though their jobs can be quite similar. The working practices within aviation create guidelines of behaviour for individual pilots to fulfil. In effect a professional pilot role is created through interactions between individual pilots and the institutions of aviation. Both men and women have different ways of fitting into this role, and there are conflicts between individual and collective gender identities. Women pilots have to balance demonstrating masculinities at work and then fulfilling more feminine expectations outside of work, and sometimes even in the workplace. This thesis goes some way towards understanding gender within aviation and other male dominated occupations. Professional pilots perform gender identities, which are shaped by work cultures, images, role expectations and individual agency. This research demonstrated that gender in the workplace is both dynamic and stable; maintaining the male dominance of an occupation whilst also adapting to increased women entering an occupation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available