When commercial aviation began in the 1920’s you would generally only see male flight attendants, providing a ‘silver service’ in the air.
However, by the 1930’s the majority of airlines had switched to all-female cabin crew, and the role was increasingly being seen as a ‘women’s job’ – brushing it off as a soft option when in reality, working as cabin crew is anything but!
In 1972 Miami resident Celio Diaz won a case against Pan-Am, whom he felt had discriminated against him based on his sex. So the doors opened once more for men who dreamed of being cabin crew.
Today male flight attendants still only make up around 20% of the workforce.
Statistically there are a lot more female than male applicants, which could account for some of the imbalance in numbers.
So why are more men not applying?
After all the role of cabin crew is a coveted one – a varied, exciting and challenging career with travel opportunities aplenty.
It’s been suggested by some that it’s not seen as a ‘manly’ job, the customer service element being quoted as a reason for this.
However, this is obviously ridiculous – especially when you consider how many men work in the service industry in other areas – as chefs, waiters, in shops and bars…the list is endless!
When you’re on a train you think nothing of being served by a male conductor or attendant – why should this be different in the air?
For some reason there seems to be a lot of stereotyping involved in this situation. For example the ‘sexy’ female air hostess and the ‘camp’ male counterpart.
And again the challenges of the role and the tough application process and training are being completely overlooked.
We’re often suspicious of things that are different from what we consider ‘normal’, and not being able to understand why someone might choose an unexpected career path can lead to a knee-jerk reaction of negativity.
Female crew members generally only have great things to say about their male team members – commenting on how they can help the atmosphere be a bit less ‘bitchy’ at times, or relieve situations with humour.
Issues with inter-crew relations tended to be because of clashes of personality, or a team member not pulling their weight – nothing to do with gender!
More and more airlines are calling for men to apply to them, preferring to have a mixed sex crew where possible.
One of the main reasons for this is that a male presence on board can be extremely useful when dealing with drunk, aggressive or dangerous passengers.
An example of this was on a Malaysia Airlines flight where two male attendants had to restrain a passenger who was attempting to get into the cockpit – the individual was fairly burly and the female crew on duty simply didn’t have the size or strength to deal with him!
On certain routes to countries that have strict religious and cultural laws regarding women some airlines are also finding that it makes sense to roster in male crew members for the flight.
Air Asia for example have trialed male only flights to destinations such as these, as complaints were being made concerning the uniform of the stewardesses not complying with the strict rules of dress for women in certain countries.
It seems ludicrous that in today’s diverse society these issues exist, affecting both potential and serving male crew.
And are these factors causing men to be put of off of applying for or staying in a career that they’d otherwise love to have?
Are you male Cabin Crew or do you want to be?
Are you going through the application process?
We’d love to hear from you about your experiences for future articles!