Arts and Humanities
There is a growing interest in male-dominated industries and the challenges women face finding their place within the workplace community. Yet, there seems to be little research on how training documents, generally created by technical communicators, may isolate and limit women who seek to pursue careers in these fields. Technical communication and gender scholars have examined women in the technical communication field and gender bias in male-dominated industries but have not yet examined gender stereotypes in training documents. Training documents are designed to provide written instructions and a reference guide for job functions, workplace rules, orientation, and company policies. This is sometimes the first opportunity for an employee to better understand the culture of the company and what it offers. Technical communicators, such as instructional designers, generally create the training material based on the goals of an organization with input from subject matter experts. This study examines FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) technical training documents, specifically focusing on manuals, handbooks, and guides found on the FAA website. The documents analyzed were published between the years of 1941 and 2017 and were all accessible on the FAA website at the time the documents were chosen. Factual and implied gender reference categories emerged from the data. A number of biased gender references were prevalent in documents created as recent as 2017. Gender bias was not only isolated to the role of the pilot but was also present in the description of other roles, including examples of professions outside the field of aviation. Qualitative analysis further revealed complex and frequently stereotypical portrayals of aviation roles and examples found in curriculum. The results highlight how technical writing functions as gender bias and serves as the basis for further investigative studies of gender bias in technical documents.
Master of Arts in English, Technical Communication Option
Hart, William, "Isolation and Onboarding: Gender Bias in Aviation Training Documents" (2018). Technical Communication Capstone Course. 19.
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