April 19, 2024

During a hearing regarding amendments to Minnesota’s safe and sick time law, first officer Laura Haynor introduced herself as a pilot for Delta. In his immediate response, state senator Gene Dornink asked her about her typical week as a stewardess.

Beginning at the start of 2024, Minnesota introduced an earned sick and safe time law that requires employers to provide leave for state employees that work at least 80 hours a year. The law allows those employees to take leave for their own illness, to take care of an ill loved one, or to escape instances of domestic abuse.

Haynor spoke on behalf of the Air Line Pilots Association International. When she introduced herself, she mentioned her job as a pilot, and that she’s the acting representative for Minnesota’s 2,400 pilots.

“My name is Laura Haynor, and I’m a Minnesota resident and a Minneapolis-based pilot for Delta Airlines,” Haynor said in her introduction.

Almost immediately afterward, Dornink asks, “Can you tell me what a typical work week looks like for you as a stewardess?”

Haynor responded, “I’m a first officer for Delta?”

“I’m sorry?” Dornink asked.

“I’m a pilot.”

Dornink apologized immediately during the hearing, then later admitted, “I don’t know why I said that.” And while he did sound sincere and embarrassed at his error, it does shed some light on the fact that many people somehow still seem surprised to learn that a woman can competently do the same jobs that society has coded as masculine.

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, fewer than six percent of pilots worldwide identified as women in 2021. The study shows that India has the highest ratio of women pilots when compared to men, while the United States ranks fourth, with 5.5 percent of all pilots identifying as women.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.

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