In her defence

By Beth Maundrill and Helen Haxell

Jet fuel, helicopter rides and avionics suites – we love working in the defence and aerospace industry as much as the next man. However, sometimes your gender can give others an agenda to make the job harder than it needs to be.

While there are certainly more women in major roles – for instance Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin CEO; Lynn Tilton, CEO at MD Helicopters; and Phebe Novakovic, CEO at General Dynamics – there is still some way to go for the sexism to be quashed.


Firstly, we’d like to point out there are many within the industry who do not see age, nor gender, as inhibiting your job as a journalist in the industry.

Things have come far but some need to get with the programme. The UK and Germany, two powerhouses in the defence industry, both have females leading their countries. Recently, we saw Hillary Clinton confirmed as the first female nomination for president of the US.

It is 2016 after all and we are all professionals. But if I were a man would you really have given me that unwanted side squeeze or spoken to me in a tone to suggest I don’t know what I’m doing?

Applause has been given when two women turned up to an industry dinner (just for being women), inappropriate pictures have been taken and, while talking about handbags is all well and good, industry professionals should not assume that is all we women can manage.

Levels of this kind of sexism vary and, while not wishing to tar people with the same brush, there are certain nations who have a better grip on accepting women in industry than others.

More generally, as the industry inevitably evolves and progresses into a meritocratic culture, folk will just be able to judge us all on the quality of the stories we write. Like Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut to go into space – the sky really is the limit for us aviation journalists.

So, what we are trying to say is please don’t treat us differently and as Hewson, Tilton and Novakovic have shown, there is more than enough room for women to sit at the big boys’ table.

On a final note, when searching for images to illustrate this post we were disappointed to find this gem pop up on the UK MoD image site.

Follow @HelenHaxell and @GunshipGirl and read our stories at 

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