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Sex and Learning

Written by Kolla

That post title certainly sparks the imagination! This is a title from the instructors manual published, and currently used by the British Parachute Association (BPA) – the organization responsible for all non-military jumping in the UK. Sex and skydiving? What could possibly be wrong with that?
Read the following excerpt to find out.  You might just want to go ahead and set your face to shocked now, to save some time.

BPA

This picture was recently snapped by from a manual that is still in use as part of current instruction materials  for all instructor courses in the UK.
If you do not have prior teaching experience and wish to become a coach, this little nugget also appears in the “Methods of Instruction Course”  literature – which you’ll need to complete in order to get that rating.

It is abundantly clear that this is very outdated and severely sexist – and quite possibly should never have been written in the first place. We sincerely doubt that many (if any) BPA instructors think along these lines. It’s probably high time for the BPA to conduct a thorough materials review and print up a fresh batch of training materials. Anecdotally, one of the BPA council members has suggested that there are a few small changes are needed – and that rather than doing lots of little amends a whole new document is coming. Which is good – but really,  shouldn’t this element have been removed some time ago in an earlier revision?

Judging by what Brit Chicks have accomplished through the years, at least some of them have managed to overcome their mechanical aptitude challenges. We’ve even met quite a few that have put the dolls aside and started thinking on their own! That has then led to all kinds of shenanigans, like podium finishes in international skydiving competitions, World Records and instructional ratings. We even know some truly inspirational and capable female British AFFIs, TIs and coaches.

We suspect some of our female readers might have an opinion on this. What do you think, is it harder to into the sport (or move forward) because of your gender? Are things different because you played with dolls? Did anyone ever teach their dolls to skydive?  Comment below – but make sure you get permission from your husband or escort first ;)

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9 Comments

  • This is a peach! I remember on my Basic Instructors course back in the late 90s being told I had got 97% on teh open book exam. When I asked which question I got wrong they told me I didn’t but they didn’t want the boys to feel bad!!!!! Wearing the right colour medals and standing on the right bit of the podium sends a strong message. BPA – you have to just take this out. Just press the delete button!

  • Isn’t having separate women’s events at skydiving meets endorsing this exact viewpoint? If women have the same opportunities, upbringing and inclination then why bother with it. Just because some women have made it to the top in the sport doesn’t mean that there are other women in the sport who are not handicapped by their social, cultural and environmental factors. Looking at the world population I am sure majority of women are still not allowed to make major decisions about their own lives. Denying this fact is not doing a service to anyone. If one overcomes the emotional instinct to be outraged by any talk of differences, I think it becomes clear that the excerpt is not severely sexist.

    • I think you can acknowledge the differences between men’s and women’s physicals abilities without assuming that ” … females’ decisions by tradition are usually made for her by her parents, escorts or husband.” as that is almost certainly not the case for skydiving women today. The language used is outdated and patronizing — and irrelevant to any valid point it might be making.

  • Thank god I am one of the few girls who were allowed to play with mechanical tools early on ;-) never had any aptitude problems when I learned skydiving, skysurfing, or flying airplanes :-)

  • If you truly think men and women perform equally, shouldnt you also be against having different categories for men and women in FAI world championshis? (Freestyle or style & accuracy)?

What do you think?