It’s a very exciting day today because the amazing website BlogHer mentioned me in the post Fly me: Freedom or Sexism in Flight Attendant Jobs? Here’s an excerpt of that post….
The Dec. 23rd article on flight attendants, Up, Up and Go Away struck me as particularly interesting because of the pride Hood describes that went along with her job as a flight attendant at TWA, back when “we passed out magazines, offered playing cards to bored passengers, refilled coffee cups” and “we had dignity — passengers and crews alike. We were together up there at 35,000 feet, and for those hours in the clouds and stars, all of our worries stayed on the ground below.” Hood saw the job in the same way as the women who work on Etihad planes do today: a chance to interact with people and travel.
Some of the harshest criticism directed at the article about careers as flight attendants for Arab women is that the jobs are serivle, and thus sexist. In addition, the old “Fly Me” ad was cited to show that flight attendants are all hired because they are young and pretty. While there is no doubt that some of this is true, a lot of it is as out of date as the ad is. Musings from Jane Air has an interesting history of the field of cabin attendants, and reports that men make up about 20% of the flight attendant workforce today. Dress codes, weight restrictions, and other requirements that led to job offers only for the young and beautiful in the early days are in many cases in violation of anti-discrimination laws today, and thus no longer have as much impact on who gets hired. (Not that the industry is without problems regarding age discrimination, it’s just not as bad today as it was years ago.) Etihad seems to be caught somewhere between the 1950s and current times in their policies.
Blogs by flight attendants, like The Flying Pinto and Another Flight Attendant Writing About Flying (and Other Stuff), capture the occupational hazards and rewards of working in the airline industry. It’s a hard job, and like many jobs that predominately are performed by women, the wages are low. Today’s working conditions are more stressful than ever. Still, whether a woman is American or Egyptian or Brazilian, working a flight crew may provide opportunities to see the world that few other people have, and that chance is something to be prized.
Hmm…I wonder if anyone over at BlogHer read my Gadling follow up post today, GALLEY GOSSIP:WHERE DID THE SERVICE GO?