Imagine a day in our society when people can be leaders, just leaders. Not a female leader, not a Hispanic leader, not an old leader, not any sort of demographic label + leader…just a leader. We so often focus on the differences that divide us, especially because it’s easy to default to the labels that have always existed, but as the world has evolved, we need to remember that the labels are more powerful if they don’t exist with a disclaimer. She is a leader. He is a leader. We are all leaders.
The other day, the Washington Post published an article about this exact thing. The article was titled: ‘Sully’ was just a hero. Why label the Southwest captain a ‘female pilot’? and said that while all women who fly are proud of the actions taken by the captain on the flight after the engine failed, they are saddened by the fact that nearly every news outlet felt the need to highlight the fact that she was a woman. Calling out the fact that she’s a woman makes it seem as though it’s surprising that a woman could perform to the same level we assume men are capable of. My aunt is a pilot and she takes such pride in her work. If anything were to ever happen to her in the air, I would place all of my money on her ability to take care of the situation in a calm, collected, and heroic manner…just like the pilot on the Southwest flight and Sully.
As adults, we need to set an example by ensuring we highlight not the differences from what we think is normal, but the jobs well done, the exemplary behavior, the ability to experiment, and most of all, the things that make someone unique (and not those that are related to the fact that those things may look different than what we are used to) Take, for example, FEMALE pilots. They’re just pilots after all, and sometimes they are heroes too!