Further Research

I came across an article written in 2013 by Rachel Roberts for the Independent titled:

“Male and female flight attendants don’t do different jobs, so why make women wear a sexy uniform?”

It talks of the new uniform brought out by Qantas cabin crew, and how the female uniform is a rather form fitting dress.

“Fashion is obliged to constantly reinvent itself, so that everything eventually comes back in vogue, and it seems the same can be said of good old-fashioned misogyny. If you thought the era of the glamorous “trolley dolly” was consigned to the annals of sixties and seventies sexism, you should check out the controversial new uniforms that are being rolled out to Qantas cabin crew from today.

Spot the glaringly obvious difference between the male and the female version of the outfit, designed by Australian Michael Grant. The women’s uniform, as modelled by supermodel Miranda Kerr, is a form fitting shift dress with a vibrant splash of fuchsia pink, more suited to a dinner date than for dishing up plane food and placing hand luggage in the overhead compartments. The male version, meanwhile, is a rather more muted and far more practical trouser suit. Qantas, it seems, are intent on making sure women take the obligatory two steps back in the constant battle to be treated as equals at work.”


Reference [Accessed 9 Oct.2016]


Another Article I came across is written in 2013 by Brian Dunlap with the heading:

Why are male flight attendants often (in my experience, nearly always) gay?

Brian made some pretty interesting points as to why most men that are gay look for a career as cabin crew.

  • “The assumption that so many flight attendants are gay may keep many straight men from pursuing the career, further facilitating a scenario in which most flight attendants are perceived to be gay.  I fly a lot, and I’ll admit I assume male flight attendants I encounter are likely gay (and often find myself likewise assuming male baristas at Starbucks stand a decent chance of being gay because I know so many that actually are, and so on).
  • The history of flight attendants.  There was a time when all flight attendants were female, with no exceptions.  Even with many foreign carriers, it’s still the case that you’ll rarely if ever come across a male flight attendant and it’s considered a career for females (and young, attractive females at that).  At some point in the US and other countries where more males began to pursue flight attendant as a career, straight men may have been less willing to take up a line of work that only females occupied or was perceived to be dominated by females.  The men willing to consider it were the ones not preoccupied with potential negative perceptions or stigma – gay men. “

Reference  [Accessed 9 Oct.2016]

The History

I dug a little deeper into the history of flight attendents to find out if there was any particular reason for the specific gender to be hired for cabin crew. I came across an article

We begin with the early days of flying. During the 1920’s and 30’s flight crews were all male, as it was airline policy to only hire male crew. Stewards such as Amaury Sanchez, America’s first ever flight attendant, were carried onboard for safety related duties. This included loading and offloading luggage, fuelling, dealing with technical issues, assisting pilots to push the aircraft into hangars and rowing the travelling elite to shore from the sea-planes in use at the time. There was no meal service, no beef or chicken, no tea or coffee, no handing out headphones for the inflight movie. The job in this glamorous era was seen to be very masculine, further echoed by the military-styled uniforms worn by crew. Pan Am and Eastern Airlines in the US and Imperial Airways of the UK, portrayed their male crew to be sexually desirable fashion-icons in their media and advertising campaigns.


For the gay male flight attendant, the 1960s were seen as a lost decade in terms of recognition from the industry. The career was predominantly all female, all white and all young. Airlines began to do away with the mothering and caring imagery of the stewardess, instead making the female crew an object of desire for the high paying male business passengers with their mini-skirts and knee-high boots. The small group of male stewards that did remain tended to be very senior and very well paid, hired during the earlier decades.



This article also mentions the same topic that the BBC reported on Dan Air as it talks of different issues and incidents accidents homosexuals.

These prejudices and fear tactics were not just confined to America. In the UK, Dan Air later admitted that they too had stopped hiring male flight attendants in late 1985. This was due, they stated, to the fact that “a large proportion of men who are attracted to cabin staff are homosexual”and “as cabin staff are sexually permissive”, there would be a much greater risk of their cabin crew contracting Aids and passing it on to coworkers and fellow passengers. Their decision was over-ruled by the equal opportunities commission in October 1986 and once again men were subsequently hired by the airline.

One airline in particular was keen to become the USA’s first ‘Gay-friendly’ carrier, after becoming embroiled in a homophobic incident a few years earlier. The American Airlines flight crew had requested new pillows and blankets during a layover at Dallas, on a flight from Washington to California, after a number of gay passengers had been onboard the internal flight. The message, sent by the pilots, eventually leaked to the press causing an uproar among the gay community.

Reference and image links  [Accessed 9 Oct.2016]


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