I Was Told I Couldn’t Command A Plane Because I’m A Woman

I Was Told I Couldn’t Command A Plane Because I’m A Woman

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Captain Anny Divya, 30 – Pilot

Anny Divya is the epitome of an empowering woman. Known for being the youngest female pilot, she doesn’t think that anyone should be limited because of their gender or their age especially when it comes to choosing a career path. Divya is a firm believer that women should join a profession they want to be in, not one they feel they should be in just because they are a woman. “I understood that not knowing is ok, but not learning is not ok,” she said describing her piloting experience, “so I took my shortcomings in my stride and focused on learning and becoming the best I could.”

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

This has been my childhood dream, my greatest achievement is to become commander on a B777.

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

I was told I can’t be pilot many times by people and relatives as it was unknown profession in the place I came from. My parents were told that they should not send a girl to pilot school because initial training costs were high for our financial status at that time. Also, my parents were also told that they should not spend so much money on a girl because I may not make it through my flying education.

3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?

The biggest stereotype is the gender bias associated with certain professions, like pilots have to be men or nurses have to be women. Coming from a small town, I had to face additional challenges to overcome this preconceived stereotype bias, like language barriers and financial difficulties.

“My parents were told that they should not spend so much money on a girl because I may not make it through my flying education.”

A funny anecdote which I still remember happened when I was flying with a senior pilot with old fashioned thinking, I was told by him that a girl’s place is in the kitchen not in the cockpit. I was aghast but kept my cool. I simply told him that whoever did a better landing deserved to be in the cockpit and the other one should consider a career in the kitchen! After we signed off that day I never heard him make any such statement to any lady pilot.

4. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?

I understood that not knowing is OK, but not learning is not. I took my shortcomings in stride and focused on learning and becoming the best I could, which has helped me get to where I am today. All those people who told me I couldn’t are quiet now.

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

Stop thinking that you are a woman before choosing any profession. Please understand that being women is only being stronger and better.

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