In the winter of 1972 two Eastern Airlines flight attendants, Sandra Jarrell and Jan Fulsom, took Eastern Airlines to court on charges of discriminatory weight and grooming regulations. These regulations, enforced against female flight attendants but not against their male co-workers, led both women to leave their jobs, claiming their working conditions were unreasonably stressful. Consequently, the two women joined with other flight attendants to address working conditions and discrimination within the airline industry to form Stewardesses for Women's Rights (SFWR). The response from flight attendants was immediate and substantial. The SFWR national headquarters (opened in early 1974) was at Rockefeller Center in New York City, and there were regional offices throughout the United States. The first national conference of SFWR, held in March 1973, was addressed by Gloria Steinem, who had recently founded Ms. Magazine. Steinem continued to be a strong supporter of the organization throughout its brief existence.
As part of its services, the organization published a newsletter (Stewardesses for Women's Rights) ten times yearly. In it SFWR informed its members of sexist advertising, company discrimination, and health and safety hazards in the airline industry. SFWR also wrote and produced a counter-commercial that emphasized the flight attendant as a responsible professional within the airline industry rather than a glamour girl. Also, SFWR served as a legal liaison, linking stewardesses who had been discriminated against by airline companies to lawyers who could successfully defend them. Many stewardesses were restored to their jobs with full back pay and benefits as a result of asking SFWR for help. A number of individuals were reinstated in their jobs and won considerable back pay judgments after approaching SFWR for help. SFWR also helped change discriminatory policies of airline companies. In time tensions developed within the organization; some members saw their struggle primarily in feminist terms, and others were interested in traditional labor organizing. Some left to devote their time more exclusively to union activity. Due to declining membership and lack of funding, SFWR folded in the spring of 1976.