Stewardesses for Women's Rights

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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.
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Stewardesses for Women's Rights Collection, Bulk, 1972-1976, 1966-1987 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Photographs Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
contributorOf Stewardesses for Women's Rights Oral History Collection Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Records, 1968-1980 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Eastern Airlines, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Eastern Air Lines, inc. corporateBody
founderOf Fulsom, Jan. person
founderOf Jarrell, Sandra. person
founderOf Jarrell, Sandra. person
associatedWith Steinem, Gloria. person
associatedWith Transport Workers Union of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Welmers, Nan Frost person
correspondedWith Women's History Research Center corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Subject
Sex discrimination in employment
Women in the labor movement
Flight attendants--Interviews
Women's rights
Women--Employment
Sex discrimination against women--United States
Airlines--Employees--Labor unions
Flight attendants--United States
Occupation
Activity
Women's rights activists

Corporate Body

Establishment 1972

Disestablishment 1976

Information

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Ark ID: w6995086

SNAC ID: 26435498