A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Southwest Flight.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... As many of you know, I am terrified of flying. But I do it because I like to travel to beautiful parts of the country. I know flying is an irrational fear. Air travel is extremely safe. I am more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport. So I make myself fly anyway. But every time I book a flight, I feel like I have chosen my death day.

When I board the plane, I always take a glance a the pilots. My favorite type of pilot is late 40s to early 60s, crew cut, grey hair around the temples or a full head of grey. Someone who looks military trained. Someone with experience.

And the gender is always male. When I envision the type of pilot I want flying my plane, I picture a male pilot.

I am ashamed.

If you know me, I'm PRO women. I'm a feminist. (As in, men and women are EQUAL, not women are better.) And yet my default is that I want a male pilot. I'm sure this is ingrained in my brain via media, etc. And there are probably more male pilots than female. Maybe that is why my brain goes to male as the default?

So when I heard about the Southwest flight from NYC to Philly that had to emergency land due to an engine explosion, I just assumed the calm, cool, collected pilot was male. But I was wrong.

The pilot was Tammie Jo Shults. She is one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots and the first woman to fly a F/A-18.


She has been described as having "nerves of steel". Just listen to the audio of her call to aircraft control. She is calm and in control.

I read an article on CNN I wanted to share with you entitled: We shouldn't be surprised that Southwest's hero pilot is a woman.

The last quote of the short opinion piece says it all:

"But the lesson of the safe landing isn't that a female pilot performed heroically, but that a professional pilot performed exactly as trained."

Highly trained, qualified people can do extraordinary things whether they are man or woman. And women should be given those opportunities! For example, did you know that during her senior year of high school, Tammie Jo Shults attended an aviation lecture. The lecturer asked her if she was lost. She assured him she was not lost and was allowed to stay, although the lecturer assured her there were no female professional pilots. This was 1979.

Now let me be clear, the article, nor I, am insinuating we shouldn't call Tammie Jo Shults a hero or celebrate a female pilot acting heroically. We should hail her as a hero and point out and celebrate that women can be hero Navy fighter pilots. Absolutely we should say all of that! Especially since it illustrates the fact that women can and do do the same jobs men do just as well as they can. And they should be given the opportunity.

So now I feel very dumb about what I told you in the beginning of this blog post... How I like my pilots to "look". I shouldn't have the bias at all. My default shouldn't be to look for a man with grey hair.

A woman with grey hair is just fine with me too!

Are there any biases you have realized you have?


  1. What a great post Megan! You know I too have the same irrational fear of flying. I'm actually driving to the airport today so I hope my trip getting there goes well...lol.

    My bias is with doctors. I want my doctor to be older than me. But I know as I age eventually one day my doctor will be a "young kid".. haha

    1. You know I think I would like my doctor to be older than me too! By honestly these days they are my age or a little younger. Paul's Brain surgeon is older than us but not by a TON. And he's like the best of the best.

  2. Don't beat yourself up. I think those are stereotype biases that we all have and it's just great that you were made aware of them by the recent Southwest incident!

    1. Yes, I think it is good to recognize our biases!

  3. I think I saw a stat that only 5% of pilots are women.

  4. Somebody told me recently that their picture of a good doctor is an older white man, but I don't remember who it was... I could have read it in a book.

    I think it's important to take a moment to recognize our own biases, that is the first step to eliminating them!

    When I read this post, it reminded me of something that has happened to me before. I used to interview people at our office, and job candidates were told to ask for Ana Willshier. Many people who I interviewed told me that they expected a tall, blonde/white woman... and I used to think "Wow, so in their mind a short Mexican woman wasn't worth the position I had"... sadly, it took me years to realize why this bothered me.

    1. I like a woman doctor!

      It is weird that someone would actually mention to you, "Oh I was expecting a tall blonde". Who does that!?