The Social Construction of Gender Role Identity: The Case of Female Flight Attendants

By Andreas G. Philaretou.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This qualitative investigation aims at identifying the social construction of feminized and masculinized gender roles in the occupation of female flight attendants (FFAs). Broadly speaking, gender role identity is defined as the generalized normative role expectations (the dos and don’ts) of thinking, feeling, and acting like a male and female. In this study, informal interviews were conducted with three FFAs from Ikaros (pseudonym) airline. Subjects commented on the various advantages and disadvantages of working in the occupation as well as on general issues related to gender and self-definitions of sexuality. The FFAs further reported streamlining their feminized actions to fit with the expectations of their occupation. In addition, they also mentioned other social psychological factors, such as self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-confidence, and resiliency as affecting and being affected by their employment.
Having collected and transcribed the data collected from the informal interviews, it was read and re-read several times to ensure familiarity, and, subsequently coded for reoccurring themes and by-themes (in brackets), such as gender (scripting, socialization, roles, and identity), appearance (physical characteristics, demeanor, and attitudes), patterns (thinking, feeling, and behavioral), employment rewards (money, job flexibility, and reduced work hours) and general drawbacks (unpredictable work schedules, being away on major holidays, sexual harassment, and problems with male partners).
Female gender identity is an extremely complex entity and tends to engulf the totality of the personal and occupational lives of women. Female segregated occupations, such as that of a FFA, offer a unique opportunity to investigate the social construction of female gender identity. An environment that incorporates both feminized actions and work enables those who are employed within it to examine their own gender identity on a daily basis.

Keywords: Female Flight Attendants, Female Segregated Occupations, Gender Identity, Social Construction, Femininism

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 529.754KB).

Dr. Andreas G. Philaretou

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, The School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Cyprus College, Nicosia, Cyprus

Andreas G. Philaretou, Ph.D., PMCMFT, CFLE, author and lecturer, is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology in the School of Humanities & Social Sciences at Cyprus College. He has received his BS and MS in Sociology, and his Ph.D. in Human Development, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). In addition, he earned a Post-Master’s Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy (PMCMFT) and has been certified as a Family Life Educator (CFLE). Dr. Philaretou, a qualitative methodologist, has taught various social psychology, psychology, and sociology courses throughout his academic career. His research and teaching interests revolve mainly around topics of social psychological significance, specifically gender and sexuality, male psychosexual well being, atypical sexual variations, sexualized work environments, and international sex trafficking networks all examined within the historical, social, and cultural perspectives. He is the author of two recently published books on masculinity and male sexuality and atypical sexual behaviors. His research has appeared in various peer-reviewed journals and presented at several professional national and international conferences throughout the past decade.

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