Breaking Gender Roles: Being a Female Aircraft Maintenance Specialist
“But it’s a man’s field.”
This is an argument heard one too many times by women who want a career in the field of aeronautics or engineering. In the US, women account for only 16% of the workforce in the spacecraft, aircraft, and manufacturing industries. In the Philippines, the ranks don’t look that much different.
This may be because there are plenty of hurdles to overcome to become an aircraft mechanic. It starts by taking the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) track in senior high school, then entering the aircraft-related course, and finally, passing the exam and interview to receive the coveted license.
But while the challenges are plenty, the fruits are sweet. Aircraft maintenance is one of the highest paying industries, where professionals with at least one year of experience can earn up to Php 34,000. Managers in this field, meanwhile, can earn up to Php 79,000.
How does an office 40,000 feet above the ground sound?
Mary Rose Tubig, a woman aircraft mechanic talks about overcoming the challenges and rising above in a field that has traditionally been associated with men.
The Making of a Young Achiever
When Mary Rose was 12 years old, her brother taught her the traits an aircraft technician needs to possess. He taught her that she must not be afraid of heights; and more importantly, that she must be brave and strong enough as a woman, because she will eventually be part of a field dominated by men.
While it was not her childhood dream to become an aircraft technician, she started reading aviation-related websites and articles after she graduated from grade school. She realized it was her calling when she passed the entrance exam at the school she got her Associate of Aviation Technology degree from.
The Most Rewarding Part
Mary Rose started as an on-the-job trainee in 2015. Then, she worked as a Maintenance Training Center Instructor, where she fulfilled her dream when she was a little girl: to be a teacher. Speaking in front of a crowd and cultivating her students’ knowledge, as well as playing a huge part in helping them achieve their dreams was her biggest pleasure.
As an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist, the part she deems most rewarding is being in the heart of a problem and providing the appropriate solution. She finds analyzing the complexities involved in a single-engine aircraft, and being skilled in troubleshooting things quickly and effectively enjoyable.
Mary Rose has been with OMNI Aviation for almost four years now, and she says she loves everything about her profession of choice.
Facing Gender Issues
“I love my coworkers,” Mary Rose shares. “And while of most of the challenges I face come from outside of the workplace, there are also challenges I face that my colleagues don’t — simply because they are men.”
Mary Rose also noticed that she gets asked a lot if she needed help with jobs. “It was frustrating at first, but it gave me all the more reason to show them that I can do the job as well as they can.”
Determined to show everyone that she is capable and deserving to be in her place, she turns up to work with a game face on every day. “I need to be able to walk into any room and challenge what’s being said about me. I try to make sure that I learn as much as I can. I speak up. In this field, a female’s perspective also matters.”
Mary Rose has advice to other aspiring aircraft technicians: “Attract what you expect, become what you respect, and be a reflection of the person you admire the most. If every person became who they wanted to see in the world, their leadership would bridge many gaps.”
For other women who wish to excel in what is seen as a male dominated field, Mary Rose also has a message: “Let’s dream of new future by changing the present. It is time for change, and change will come only when we, as women, exercise our power, voice, and confidence.
“Most importantly, be an advocate and a sounding board for other women in male-dominated industries. We need to build each other up, celebrate our wins, and share our stories to empower one another.”