March 4, 2014 3:45 pm

Female WestJet pilot receives sexist note from passenger: ‘No place for a woman’

VANCOUVER: A female WestJet pilot received a sexist note from a male passenger on one of her flights from Calgary to Victoria on Sunday.

Carey Steacy, who has 17 years of flight experience, posted a photo of the note on Facebook.

Identified only as @David, the note to Steacy reads:

“To Capt. / WestJet:

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The cockpit of airline is no place for a woman. A woman being a mother is the most honor. Not as ‘captain’. Were [sic] short mothers not pilots WestJet.”

The note also references Proverbs 31.

“P.S. I wish WestJet could tell me a fair lady is at the helm so I could book another flight!”

When Steacy posted the note to Facebook she wrote: “Thank you for the note you discreetly left me on your seat. You made sure to ask the flight attendants before we left if I had enough hours to be the Captain so safety is important to you, too.”

Her response goes on to say:

“You were more than welcome to deplane when you heard I was a ‘fair lady.’ You have that right. Funny, we all, us humans, have the same rights in this great free country of ours. Now, back to my most important role, being a mother.”

WestJet employs 1,111 male pilots and 58 female pilots (captains and first officers). WestJet Encore, a subsidiary of WestJet, employs 87 male and 10 female pilots.

Leigh Naturkach, manager of violence prevention with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, told Global News that in some way this story is surprising and in other ways it is not. “This kind of attitude we know is still very prevalent in Canada,” she said.

“While we have made lots of progress, this is a reflection of some attitudes in our society.”

Naturkach said there are industries, such as aviation and trades, where women entering the field is still novel. The Canadian Women’s Foundation provides courses and tips to help women understand and prepare them for environments that can be toxic.

“However, this was only one person on that plane, out of 200, and that’s something to remember,” said Naturkach.

In the United States, only 6.6 per cent of commercial airline pilots are female. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Centre, there are 123,705 commercial pilots, including 8,175 women.

On Monday WestJet said it will not be issuing a statement on this matter. Global News was unable to reach Steacy for comment.

“It is 2014 and women belong anywhere they choose,” said Naturkach.

TMS debates: Are we reading too much into one person’s letter?

© Shaw Media, 2014

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