The history of male flight attendants, where were they?

Digging through the history of aviation industry, you will find that men have monopolized the aviation career as for decades the flight attendant career was permitted for women only to occupy, which wasn’t out of any logical or respectful perspective for neither women nor men. To get to know why men weren’t allowed to be flight attendants, we have to ask the right question first: Why women?

In this article we will get to know more about what was happening in the cabin crew career for decades and the remarkable stages it went through until today.

Credits: Getty Images

So, why women?

Looking into the early decades for flight attendant job being practiced, we will find that there was a massive lack of competition for males to become one of the cabin crew.

Yet, paradoxically to what generality might think, the first flight attendant wasn’t a female, he was a man called Heinrich Kubis. This was back in the early 1920s and only men occupied this job until 1929. Then the urge of getting a nurse on the plane to take care of the passengers arose, and that’s when they hired Ellen church, the first female flight attendant.

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As nursing was one of the rare limited jobs that a woman can get herself into back then, it was a dominated profession for women.

Things changed during the World War, and so did the concept of hiring women

Due to the world war, there was a massive lack in nursing, which made no chance for a nurse to be up in the air getting her job done as a flight attendant.

And that’s when hiring a female had become a way to fulfilling other purposes, and the conditions of becoming a flight attendant met other standards as well:

The age, looking, costumes, attitude and everything was extremely sexualised to meet the need of the wealthy passengers who comprised the airlines customers back then. Women had to be very good looking and had to act in a sexy manner all the time, otherwise she’d get terminated from her job

And most airlines had such abusive rules for female flight attendants as: not getting pregnant or having children and not being married.

Credits: Getty Images

And with such rules and concepts that sprung out from deep ignorance, there was no chance for a male to become a flight attendant, so by 1966, only 4 percent of flight attendants were men.

So how did things start to change?

Courageous women and men stroke up to change these hideously biased terms and rules. 

In 1971, a man whose dream was to become a flight attendant — as his uncle used to be before world war II — went through legal procedures and filed a lawsuit when he didn’t get accepted as a flight attendant by Pan Am, which put pressure on airlines into hiring more men.

In 1972, two women launched the “Stewardesses for Women’s Rights”, and its role was to fight sexism in the career by taking legal actions.

In the 1980s, airlines stopped using the “stewardess” term, and came up with “flight attendant” instead.

And since then this excessively sexism concepts and perspectives started to get modified progressively.

What about now?

In Europe for instance it became illegal to gender discriminate a job, yet the percentage between females to males in the crew cabin is still uneven, and it ranges between 86% for women, and 14% for men, depending on the airlines.


And in the USA for instance 74.6% of flight attendants are females, while men occupy only 21.6%.

So in average males occupy from 15% to 20% of the hiring percentage.

And yet still not every single airline makes it easy for men to be a flight attendant, but overall there is no more sexism and ignorance among the airlines contracts.


Despite of the fact that airlines have no more of sexism terms and conditions against men and the fact that there is more awareness now about the the importance of the flight attendant job and the sensitive role it plays, yet not many men choose it as a career, and we hope that it’s maybe all about the coming years to find men overcoming the past of this profession and to see more males start to actually consider the flight attendant job as a long life career.


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