When was the last time that you heard "this is your captain speaking" from a female voice?
The reason you're racking your brains is because there really aren't that many female pilots.
Estimates from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISA) say there are about 4,000 women pilots worldwide, of about 130,000, that's just over three per cent. Another estimate, by easyJet, puts the balance at five per cent, with six per cent of its own flying staff female. British Airways says about six per cent of its pilots are women – that's 200 out of 3,500.
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that 570 of the British industry's 9,846 pilots and co-pilots are women, which is just under six per cent. Bearing in mind the world's gender split is about 50.4 per cent male, the disproportion is dramatic.
When Yvonne Pope Sintes became Britain's first commercial airline captain in 1972, having worked her way up from being an air stewardess, she was told by a male pilot that if a woman ever joined he would resign.
It seems that the industry has been slow to change since then, especially when compared to other professions. Statistics for other jobs are hard to come by, but for comparison in the UK - a recent British Medical Journal found that only 10 per cent of surgeons are female; there are seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100 companies (seven per cent).
As far as the airline industry is concerned, the statistics say you'll have to travel on about 20 flights before you hear a female pilot's voice over the tannoy.
This is something that a number of UK airlines are keen to change. Both easyJet and British Airways have launched campaigns this year to attract more female pilots onto the flightdeck.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of budget airline easyJet, told the British Air Transport Association (BATA) conference this month that the carrier intends to double its female pilot intake , from six per cent to 12, by 2017.
"We want to encourage more women to join and stay in this interesting, highly-skilled and well-rewarded profession," she said.
"We will highlight the opportunities of pilot careers to young, female audiences, especially schools and colleges. There is already a campaign to encourage young women to take up science, engineering, technology and maths, which are useful subjects for pilots."
In a push to encourage female applicants to British Airways's Future Pilots Programme, the airline published research into what was discouraging women from becoming pilots, with two thirds of women admitting being put off the job. A fifth said they thought that women could only be cabin crew and one in ten said they were "told it was a man's job growing up". A fifth said they were discouraged by the fact they had only ever seen male pilots on tv and in films.
Melissa Holland-Smith, a senior first officer and pilot at BA, who got her wings in 2001, said the stereotype of male-only pilots needs to be broken down if more women are going to enter the profession.
"I try to get out to the flightdeck as much as I can and meet and greet the passengers, or try to say goodbye to the passengers on arrival, and I still get a lot of people who are really surprised at having a female pilot," she said.
"I go to a lot of schools and sixth forms to talk to pupils about becoming a pilot and I receive a lot of positive response, but a lot of girls didn't realise that it was an option, that women could fly planes, which is unbelievable in this day and age.
"Perhaps girls don't consider a career as a pilot because they don't see women in the media as pilots, they're generally played by men. We need to break down that stereotype."
Melissa added that there was a limited number of high-profile female pilot role models to inspire young girls, citing Carol Vorderman as one of few.
The pilot, who flies Boeing 777s while also being a mother, says the job suits women who want to have a family, as short-haul pilots have similar hours to an office job, and that women are able to take time out to have a family and return to their position at the same level as where they left off.
After being in the job for 14 years, with nine of them spent at British Airways, Melissa said she had not experienced any sexism in her job, and has been viewed in her team as an equal. However, not all female pilots have been so lucky.
Judy Cameron, Air Canada's first female pilot in 1978, told the Financial Post this week that she was interviewed by a female reporter on starting her role and asked how she would manage to fly while coping with "the ravages of pre-menstrual tension".
She says she was also told how "cute" it was that she had become a pilot, and that one time a man noticed her on the flightdeck and said: "Huh, a woman pilot. Well, at least it keeps them off the roads."
But Melissa, who also worked her way up from the ground crew, says that it is a non-gender specific job. Although it is a tough profession to get into, with years of training, that is no more a barrier to a woman that it is for a man, she said.
Patrick Smith, pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, a book about air travel, said: "I'm unsure what discourages women [from becoming pilots]. I assume they're the same things, fair or unfair, that discourages them from pursuing other traditionally male professions, and vice versa. Part of it may be the military culture that, for many decades, dominated pilot ranks
"On-the-job harassment of women pilots is exceptionally rare, and airline seniority lists, regimented strictly by date of hire, ensure equal pay and promotion."
While, there are drives to encourage more women into the industry, a separate push across the Atlantic hopes to increase the number of black pilots – today only about 675, including 14 women, out of 70,000 flying in America.
The Telegraph, London