Legislator Mistakenly Refers to Delta Pilot as ‘Stewardess’ Despite Being Informed of Pilot Status

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Navigating a male-dominated industry can present unique challenges for women, as demonstrated during a recent hearing in Minnesota discussing changes to the state’s safe and sick time law.

Laura Haynor, a first officer with Delta Airlines, represented the Air Line Pilots Association International at the hearing. However, when she introduced herself as a pilot, state Senator Gene Dornink mistakenly referred to her as a stewardess.

Minnesota implemented an earned sick and safe time law in 2024, granting state employees who work a minimum of 80 hours annually the right to take leave for various reasons, including personal illness, caring for a sick family member, or escaping situations of domestic abuse.

Haynor’s introduction clearly stated her position as a pilot for Delta Airlines, where she serves as the acting representative for Minnesota’s 2,400 pilots. However, Senator Dornink’s immediate question about her typical work week referred to her as a stewardess, prompting Haynor to clarify her role as a first officer for Delta.

Dornink swiftly apologized during the hearing, acknowledging his mistake and expressing embarrassment over the error. Yet, this incident underscores the persistent societal stereotype that associates certain professions, like pilots, more closely with men than with women.

As a woman in the automotive journalism field, I’ve encountered similar misconceptions. At press events, fellow journalists have assumed I’m a brand representative rather than a journalist like them.

Similarly, in motorsport circles, there’s often confusion about my role, with some assuming I’m an influencer rather than a professional journalist.

Statistics from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots reveal that globally, fewer than six percent of pilots are women. While India leads in the proportion of female pilots compared to men, the United States ranks fourth, with women representing 5.5 percent of all pilots.

Although encountering a female pilot may still be surprising for some, it’s crucial to recognize and respect women’s roles in traditionally male-dominated fields. Listening to individuals when they introduce themselves accurately is a simple yet meaningful step toward promoting gender equality and challenging stereotypes.

Also read: Pilots’ Sleep During Flight; Co-Pilot Cites Newborn Twins’ Care Fatigue


By Annie Linardos

I'm a journalist student and completed my masters in Journalism and Mass Communication. With a strong track record as an intern at Mathrubhumi News and The New Indian Express as a reporter and content writer, I'm creative, motivated, and have a keen eye for the truth and attempting to use the expertise and talents to contribute to the emerging field of journalism. I have also been working as a freelance writer and have the capability of producing interesting and bold articles.

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