This study, starting in 1930 and ending in 2014, takes an in depth look at how flight attendants have evolved over the last eight decades. In the beginning, the women employed by these airlines were all unwed, petit, and registered nurses. In subsequent years, nursing requirements were dropped, and before long, stewardesses became a sex object. Initially, stewardesses helped airlines to show the general public that air travel was a safe mode of transportation. This spanned from requiring nursing credentials to portraying a motherly, domesticated image. Once the safety was proven/ accepted, the stewardess became objectified and became a sex symbol. Then, as equal rights emerged, the flight crews became more diverse and representative of a professional career. The objective of this study is to show in what ways airlines used women to create business, and how that affected different areas of the job, including, branding, comfort, service, safety, and security. These criteria were viewed as key components of the job duties and function of a flight attendant. Each area has evolved from outside factors, and in the last 84 years, flight attendants have become what they are today because of the discoveries of my research.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2014


Randi L. Polk

Mentor Department Affiliation

Languages, Cultures, and Humanities

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Languages, Cultures, and Humanities