This is one of those issues that exists in all professions, not just piloting, but is maybe a little more extreme here. It doesn't really affect me, but maybe it does without me knowing.
These days it seems that everyone at my workplace has or is expecting new babies. When a guy is about to become a parent, the employer knows the guy will lose a bit of sleep, but that he really depends on the job now and is unlikely to move on unless he gets a much better job, but will have a harder time moving his family. Having kids is a sign of responsibility and permanence, so the guy is likely to get corresponding promotions. Never mind the fact that sometimes the little one is testament to a moment of irresponsibility, or some woman's last ditch attempt to make a flaky guy's presence permanent. I'm not implying that either case applies to any of my co-workers: it's a general statement.
Meanwhile, if I were to be expecting a child, my employment would quickly terminate. I would likely keep it secret as long as possible, so as not to lose out on promotions and other considerations given to employees considered keepers. But no matter what I said or did, thirty weeks into the pregnancy I would be legally forbidden to fly. Thenceforth I would be legally and morally required to care for the child, and I just don't see that matching a pilot's schedule in any way. (Whether it's possible is not the topic of this blog. If I had a child it would be my full time responsibility).
So what is the controversy if I'm not arguing that a woman should be able to juggle work and baby without penalty? It's that men are allowed to, and even get a bonus for it. When a man becomes a family guy, he's taken more seriously. Some beliefs hold that a woman's primary role is in the home, administering to her babies and husband. If you believe that, then you can stop reading, and probably already have.
But what can a woman do to demonstrate to her employer her maturity and committment? What is the occurrence whereby a woman can get the same nod from authority, recognizing her seriousness? Do you see it happening because she has reached menopause, sworn an oath of chasity, or had an abortion? You're probably snorting in derision at the ludicrousness of the very idea, and you're not the one who stopped reading during the last paragraph. She shouldn't. Everyone should be evaluated as an employee for the dedication and ethic they have demonstrated.
I don't have kids and am not planning to, but as long as I am female, I may lose out to the fathers, because they are regarded as more stable, and the childless males, because they have the potential to become stable fathers, while I don't. Heh. Least of my worries. Just something that occurred to me to say.