WestJet Pilot Responds to Sexism
The well-chronicled story of the WestJet captain who was told by a passenger to metaphorically take command of a mini-van full of kids came at an ironic time for those who have mounted a global effort to encourage more women to fly.
It’s International Women of Aviation Week, which is led by Canadian Aviator columnist Mireille Goyer, and thousands of volunteers are battling weather and other challenges to give women and girls a chance to fly, mostly for the first time, in small aircraft to see if they like it and to show them how they, too, can do it.
For those who haven’t heard the story about WestJet Capt. Carey Steacy’s encounter with some blatant sexism last week, a note scratched on a napkin was left behind by a passenger who identified himself as “David” and told Steacy not only that she had no business a “the helm” of the 737 going from Calgary to Victoria but also suggested WestJet let passengers know about the gender arrangement in the front two seats so passengers like him can make male-only arrangements.
David, who started questioning flight attendants about Steacy’s suitability for the left seat as soon as he heard her first PA announcement. The note, which said “the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman” and that “being a mother is the most honor.”
WestJet said it wouldn’t dignify the note with a response but said it supported Steacy. Steacy posted the note on Facebook and outed her reluctant passenger.
True to the statistics, WestJet has 58 females among 1,158 pilots, slightly less than the six percent of pilots who are women based on the number of licences issued.
International Women of Aviation Worldwide activities began with a snowbound launch in Washington, D.C. and we’ll have further reports later this week.