EasyJet have a target that one in five new entrant pilots will be female by 2020. This means that new hires will be actively sought based upon their gender. A man who is an objectively good pilot will now have less of a chance to secure a job… because he is a man. This might be acceptable if this active selection was based on merit (women were inherently better pilots), or if there was an injustice to be remedied. But there is no evidence to suggest women are better pilots and it’s not clear that there exists any injustice in the current hiring process.
Six percent of Easyjet pilots are women, but I know of no systemic barriers to entry for UK females who want to be pilots. I welcome information from others on this point. This is not a good or a bad thing; it is the emergent outcome of a complex set of interrelated factors, the totality of which no one fully understands.
When considering gender roles in society we do not need a full understanding of the “whys”. Why do relatively fewer women choose to become pilots? Why are men are the primary breadwinner 69% of U.K. couples? If people are free to make their own choices then it doesn’t matter. There will be emergent patterns that are interesting to study, but corrective intervention will not be necessary because no one knows what “correct” is until it is measured empirically: the “correct” ratio of male fo female pilots is the emergent outcome of a complex multitude of interrelated factors, the totality of which no one can fully understand. Instead of trying to understand the impossibly complex we simply need to ensure there are no gender-related barriers where there do not need to be.
By setting a gendered hiring target, EasyJet is erecting a gender barrier, rather than knocking one down. This is therefore a regressive step. Those men who can no longer be pilots will have a harder time providing for their family, because they have been selected against based upon their gender. Western society is thus changed. For the better?