While all-women crew flights make headlines these days, Air India is in news for its flight with an all-male crew, that wasn’t intentional. A report by Times of India says that the airline’s Chennai-Delhi flight and Delhi-Chennai ended up having no female crew, and since there is no rule that mandates the presence of a female crew member on board a flight, the airline is in no violation. Since fliers are accustomed to the presence of women crew members, especially in the cabin, Air India has challenged this stereotype rightly, and that too unknowingly.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • An Air India flight recently flew with an all-male crew, though accidentally.
  • Men bear the brunt of gender stereotyping as much as women do.
  • In the aviation industry, men are not expected to works as air hosts as it involves duties that we consider to be “domestic” in nature.
  • But at the end of the day, it is training that should matter and not gender.

Since fliers are accustomed to the presence of women crew members, especially in the cabin, Air India has challenged this stereotype rightly, and that too unknowingly.

Men bear the brunt of gender stereotyping as much as women do. While women are forced to live a life of submission and conditioned to embody the so called feminine traits and duties, patriarchy coaches men in our society to march in the opposite direction. As a result of which masculinity becomes a thing of reverence among men, guiding every decision they make in their lives. They must behave and even choose careers based on their gender. They must do no such jobs that are strongly associated with the opposite gender or demand them to carry out what we largely identify as domestic tasks.

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This stereotyping is quite visible in the field of aviation. Men are expected to work as pilots and women as air hostesses, and while women are fast breaking social norms to claim the skies above, it is still not common for men to pursue cabin crew jobs, without raising an eyebrow or two. Even in 2019, there is that one person who’ll find the idea of a male flight attendant funny. But why is that? Is the job of a flight attendant not arduous? Doesn’t it require expertise gained from rigorous training to even qualify to step on a plane as a crew member? Then just why does the idea of an all-male crew make flyers a bit uncomfortable?

Fetching strangers blankets and water and serving snacks and ensuring their comfort, are not the jobs we expect men to do, even if they are paid for.

The strong stereotyping associated with cabin assistance job profile is to be blamed here. People do not see the labour that goes into this job, but all the glamour that is associated with it. Besides, fetching stranger’s blankets and water, serving snacks and ensuring their comfort are not the chores we expect men to do, even if they are paid for. This is why it becomes hard for people to accept male flight attendants, to the point that it makes them uncomfortable. Also, the current environment of hostility and awareness regarding sexual safety has made women reasonably uncomfortable around men. If they need help, even in a closed environment such as a plane, they would prefer to take it from a female crew member.

However, we need to clearly remember what former pilot and air safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan told TOI, “All cabin crew, male or female, are trained to administer first aid and to handle emergency situation. There is no gender preference as per the rule.” What matters, so high up in the air, is the expertise of the cabin crew in attendance. We literally put our lives in the hands of these people and they are dedicated to making our journeys comfortable. Gender should be the last thing that should tamper this equation. As Ranganathan said, “What matters is the training.”

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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