Lawmaker Asks Delta Pilot About Being A 'Stewardess' Immediately After Being Told She's A Pilot

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Ah, to be a woman in a male-dominated industry! 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. Whoops!

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, Senator 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.

As a woman who is also an automotive journalist, I’ve had similar run-ins. On press trips, other journalists have asked me product questions or requested I organize some video time for them; they’re operating under the assumption that I’m a press representative for the brand, not a fellow journalist. On motorsport-based trips, many folks struggle to wrap their head around the fact that I’m not an influencer. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has asked me if I work for a “lifestyle brand.”

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.

So, sure. It’s probably still a little surprising to run into a female pilot. It’s also generally a pretty smart idea to listen to women when they introduce themselves.

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