Following the aftermath of Southwest Flight 1380's unfortunate in-air engine explosion, on April 17, that took the life of a wife and mother, CBS reported that "Everyone clapped and praised the pilot after he set the aircraft down." There was one issue with this statement - the pilot was a woman. According to CNN, Tammie Jo Shultz is one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots who was highly trained and who handled the job as she was trained to do.

The incident

The left engine exploded around 30 minutes into the Flight with debris smashing into a side window. Despite one passenger being sucked partially out of the window and a subsequent massive drop in altitude, Ms. Shultz managed to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia safely.

Gender Roles

The poorly researched report by CBS was probably not meant to insult Ms. Shultz, but it does highlight an issue still very relevant in today's society.

CBS operated under the assumption that it was a man who saved the day, without looking deeper into what happened. By assuming that a man was the hero in this story, rather than simply referring to the pilot in a non-gender specific capacity, we see gender roles are still very much ingrained in our society.

Little slips like this keep the gender divide and gender expectations alive and they've got to go.

This extends beyond gender and into racial stereotypes as well - after having my home broke into in San Francisco and confronting the intruders myself (thus making me a witness), the police's first question was whether the criminals were black, rather than asking for a description first. They were in fact, white. As long as little hints of these presumptions are still around, and people still assign stereotypes and make hasty assumptions such as the one made about the pilot, the glass ceiling of inequality will still be a part of our society.

As a society, in all aspects, we have to be thoroughly careful in order to avoid perpetuating these prejudices, especially with the language that we use.

An inference or even a hint of prejudice makes no progress towards equality for everyone. A lot of readers skim an article, or hear a thought and may not do their own homework into a topic or conversation, and so credit will not go where it's due and prejudices will still go unchallenged.

One or two words can go a very long way towards reinforcing stereotypes or in helping society to overcome them. The pen is mightier than the sword.

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