Fifty years ago this month, Liz Haded of Mallard Way was eager to return to her flight attendant job at American Airlines after a 17-year maternity break (several children). But the door was padlocked. Why? Because she had the gall to exceed 30 years of age and even get married. In 1973, flight attendants had to be young, pretty and single, all the better for the male business traveler. There was even a weight limit for flight attendants. Liz had no problems in the physical appearance department, but she was too old and wore a wedding ring. Disqualified.
In August of 1973, she reached out to a new organization called Stewardesses for Women’s Rights and was awaiting the outcome of some bellwether court challenges sponsored by the group, which had the backing of Gloria Steinem.
Here’s a Smithsonian Institution photo of a “stewardess” conducting obligatory self-checks.
Stewardesses for Women’s Rights folded in 1976 due to lack of focus and funding, but it did win many court decisions and settlements. So did Liz get her job back? No, but she joined the Silverliners, a social club of former flight attendants from Eastern Airlines and Colonial Airlines. And she made a trip to Vietnam to pick up a baby and bring it to its adoptive American parents.
In other news from 50 years ago . . .
Editor’s note: If you’re reading this article on a cell phone, it might not display correctly. Scroll to the very bottom and tap “exit mobile version.”