Ah yes the ’70s. Post the introduction of the Pill. Post Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. The era of Title IX and the (failed) attempt to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratified by the states in order to become part of the US Constitution. Those pesky second-wave feminists were busy.
And in a decade when air travel was still viewed as a glamorous experience complete with ashtrays, cocktails in stemware and people who dressed up for a trip to the airport (I’m looking at you guy-in-sweat-stained-unbuttoned-shirt with a bag from McDonalds’s that sat next to me on a recent flight) the fine folks at Eastern Airlines apparently settled on a way to make sure their consumer brand (especially for the male business traveler) matched their employer brand. Their solution? Shame not just their job candidates but all women.
“Presenting the Losers”
The copy reads:
“Pretty good, aren’t they? We admit it. And they’re probably good enough to get a job practically anywhere they want.
But not as Eastern Airline stewardesses.
We pass up around 19 girls, before we get one that qualifies. If looks were everything, it wouldn’t be tough. Sure, we want them to be pretty…don’t you? That’s why we look at her face, her make-up, her complexion, her figure, her weight, her legs, her grooming, her nails and her hair.
But we don’t stop there. We talk. And we listen. We listen to her voice, her speech. We judge her personality, her maturity, her intelligence, her intentions, her enthusiasm, her resiliency and her stamina.
We don’t want a stewardess to be impatient with a question you may have, or careless in serving your dinner, or unconcerned about your needs.
So we try to eliminate these problems by taking a lot more time and passing up a lot more girls.
It may make our job a little harder. But it makes your flying a lot easier.”
How nice. They actually ‘talked and listened’ during the selection process rather than just judging hair, nails and bust-waist-hip ratio. And check it out 1970’s job candidates – if you were fortunate enough to pass phase 1 (the ugly screen) Eastern Airlines kindly laid out the job competencies right there in the advertisement: patience, personality, maturity, intelligence, intentions, enthusiasm, resiliency and stamina.
After your trip to the beauty parlor and the make-up counter you might have had enough time to think about answers for the moment you were actually deigned worthy enough to enter into conversation about actual skills and abilities.