United Female Pilot Inspiring Women in Japan Workforce - United Hub

United female pilot inspiring women in Japan workforce

By The Hub team

B-787 captain Debra McCaw's leadership has taken her to great heights—including being featured on Japan's NHK TV "Ohayo Nippon" to discuss inclusive workforces.

Although the number of women in managerial roles in Japanese companies continue to grow, it is far from the government's goal of 30%. This is also true in aviation industry in Japan where there are very few female captains. Meanwhile, the United States is leading the industry with over 1,000 active female captains.

At San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Captain Debra McCaw has been at United Airlines for 34 years. At the time she started, almost all the pilots were men.

As a mother of two, she steadily built up her experience while balancing motherhood and household in partnership with her pilot husband. She learned "the importance of calmness, friendliness, confidence and good communication with each other." All of these are also necessary skills to be a captain, especially when taking care of hundreds of passengers as she does flying Dreamliners.

She says it is most important that a leader is a good listener, to not create a situation where subordinates are scared to ask questions and leaders are not afraid to trust their subordinates. Leaders should be able to create an environment in which colleagues can freely communicate with each other.

As leaders, pilots must also be quick thinking. During a flight, there are times when their determination is put to the test. When a passenger falls sick mid-flight, McCaw must work closely with airport teams and make decisions quickly, as well as communicate effectively. In these situations, she says that she keeps the passenger in mind when making cabin announcements. "I imagine that my family and friends are on board. I share what I would want to know and give information honestly."

McCaw is making herself known for enthusiastically sharing her story and wisdom. In 2018, she spoke at a symposium in Japan on careers for women. She told the young students to be confident and to "do what you love and love what you do." With so many of the students inspired by her words, we won't be surprised to see at least of few of them flying in the skies soon.

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