The airlines reacted quickly: Effective immediately the “two-person” rule should be applied in German cockpits, as in American. Regular psychological tests for pilots are also being considered, according to today’s news. At the same time it has been reported: “On Friday in Berlin the Bundesrat approved a new law requiring major corporations in the future to appoint women to one third of the positions on their boards of directors.” (Handelsblatt) Lufthansa is one of the major corporations.
I would like to make a suggestion. Lufthansa should institute a female quota not only for its board of directors, but also for its flight decks. It is certainly high time for this, since at present Lufthansa boasts only 6 per cent women pilots.
During my radio and TV marathon following the catastrophe in the French Alps I learned that the suicide rate among men is four times higher than among women. With each woman that it trains to become a pilot, therefore, Lufthansa could significantly reduce the risk that its pilots might misuse an airplane for suicide and mass murder.
Killing rampages and so-called Familienauslöschungen (family annihilations), which are often relativized through the less drastic terms “extended suicide” and “take-along suicide,” moreover, are crimes committed almost exclusively by men. The same is true for suicidal or amok-flights, which apparently occur more frequently than the public is aware of.
Lufthansa is desperately trying to find measures to prevent or at least reduce to a minimum future catastrophes such as that presumably caused by the German Wings copilot. Nobody thinks of the most obvious idea of increasing the percentage of female pilots. Why not? It is probably due to the same cultural blind spot that allowed early news reports to use the “generic masculine” form when referring to the crash victims from the town of Haltern – the two women teachers and 14 dead girls and 2 boys were all presented as male (as “Lehrer” instead of “Lehrerinnen” and “16 Schüler” instead of “14 Schülerinnen und 2 Schüler”).
Raising the female quota in the cockpit is the right thing and long overdue, even quite independently of preventive measures against further catastrophes in air travel. With its 6% women, Lufthansa is almost as bad as the Catholic Church.
Postscript on March 30, 2015: The editorial department of FemBio first attempted to filter the comments to this blog, then decided to publish virtually all, in order to enlighten readers and document the level of responses received. Instead, the commentary option will be closed on April 1 so as not to totally overwhelm the site with trash. The abusive posts that have arrived by that time will then be removed. Luise F. Pusch reserves the right to make use of this rich documentation of masculine thinking in future columns. (trans. Joey Horsley)
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