Get to Know Dusty Roads, Flight Attendant Fighting Discrimination | The 2019 MAKERS Conference
Weigh-ins. No-marriage policies. And by age 32, you were out of a job. Dusty Roads knew someone had to take a stand up against sexism among flight attendants—so she caused some turbulence and landed in history books.
DUSTY ROADS: I don't think that we should take the crap that we've been taking for so long. And unless we stand up and fight for it, nobody else is. [MUSIC PLAYING] My mother and my father were both educated. So education was important. And it was smart to be smart. I was 12 or 13 when I saw the cover of "Life" magazine. And it had different stewardesses. And I opened it up, and I went, oh, she's flying to Hawaii. [GASP] She's going to Hong Kong. I want to do that. [MUSIC PLAYING] We had a lot of emphasis on safety and a lot of emphasis on how to care for people and then also how to bend over in the aisle without showing everything because we all wore skirts. We passed out magazines. We passed out mints. And we were to talk to the passengers. One of the most thrilling passengers that I had was Eleanor Roosevelt. She was so charming and so warm, just lovely. It was a fabulous career, and it was looked up to. We were admired. But there was a tremendous emphasis on personal appearance. It was almost like open your mouth. Let me check your teeth, like a horse. They would give us girdle checks. You couldn't be married, and you obviously couldn't be pregnant. [MUSIC PLAYING] I came to realize that this is a national problem, discrimination, gender discrimination against women. Did they fire the pilots at age 32? No. Did they fired the engineer? No. It was terrible discrimination to tell you you're a worthless. We don't need you. You're over the hill. Goodbye. That's a terrible thing to tell somebody. [MUSIC PLAYING] I wanted to make it better. I wanted to make it a career instead of just a job and a profession. I started calling my girlfriends that had been fired. And they all got to come back and keep their seniority. [MUSIC PLAYING] Europe-- London, Paris, Frankfurt, fly fishing in New Zealand. And then the last few years I flew Hawaii. That was just-- loved Hawaii, oh. I had one guy come up to me in the airplane once and say, what is it with you girls? What are you complaining about? He said, why do you not like to be girls? I said, there's a big difference. I don't want to be a man. I want to be a woman, and I want it to be fair.