Flight Attendants at the Forefront of Changing the Way Employers Treat Women

The Daily Herald has a great article on how flight attendants were a large driving force in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and specifically, its Title VII.

The anecdotes in the article are pretty shocking:

Dedicated to protecting the safety of others, Lake Barrington’s Shari Worrell once performed mouth-to-mouth to save a man’s life. Another time, she used a pair of earphones, a small drinking cup and “occupied” stickers meant for the bathroom door to fashion a MacGyver-esque stethoscope needed by a doctor. Throughout her career, she received three awards of merit for her lifesaving efforts.

But before she started her job each day, Worrell had to step on the scale to prove she weighed between 105 and 118 pounds, undergo an inspection to make sure the seams in her stockings were straight and submit to a girdle check.

We’ve often heard the flight attendants say “we are primary here for your health and safety,” but if MacGyver here could be fired for being 120 pounds, it looks like they used to primarily be around for your viewing pleasure.

An it wasn’t just gender-based issues the flight attendants worked with.

Again, according to the article:

 Even as flight attendants were fighting to change those antiquated discriminations against women, Worrell remembers how she once had to leave a restaurant because it refused to serve her black co-worker. A cross-section of society, the world of flight attendants during her era included women, blacks, homosexuals and others who benefited from the protections guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act…

When the TV Show Pan Am came out, there was a lot of criticism that it “glamorized sexism.”

I was always torn about that.  Because, to be honest, the airlines themselves glamorized sexism.  So, in that spirit, Pan Am was being true to what was going on back then.

For examples:




But I’m not calling out the airline industry on this one.  This is the way things were back then.  Which is why what the flight attendants did is so important across multiple industries.

The vintage ad I always think of when I try to remind myself how much things have changed is this one for Schlitz:




About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

Check Also

flight cancellations

How to Handle Sudden Flight Cancellations

How do you handle sudden flight cancellations? A few years back when I regularly flew …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.