I ts hard to say what was worse, having to wear a girdle or having it checked by your employer. Barbara 'Dusty' Roads  championed a crusade against sexism ending the practice of flight attendants having to weigh in at work and retire from their career at the golden age of 32. (VIDEO).

In 1953, American Airlines implemented a policy restricting the age of what were then known as 'stewardesses’ continuing employment to the age of 32. This was in addition to already existing rules requiring termination if they married. It was just assumed that the women would end up meeting a man on board, marry him and leave by age thirty-two anyway. If they didn’t, the airlines thought there was something wrong with them. But many stewardesses loved their job and wanted to make it a career.

After years of fighting the policy, in 1965, Dusty and American Airlines stewardess, Jean Montague, who was about to be fired at age 32, took their fight to the newly created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC was created as the government’s administrative agency responsible for enforcing the new federal employment discrimination laws.

On the morning the EEOC opened its doors, the two women walked through them and became the first in the country to file a discrimination complaint. It would be the first time the staff at the EEOC recognized that discrimination came in the form of gender bias as well as racial discrimination. However, it would take three more years and the threat of a national stewardess strike before the EEOC made a decision on the issue in 1968. Flight Attendants were finally allowed equality and protection against discriminatory actions in their profession under Title VII.

Dusty continued her career in flight, including flying commercially contracted Military Air Command flights transporting troops to and from the Vietnam War and, after that, other commercial overseas routes, until she retired at the age of sixty-six.




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