1 LOVE, STRUGGLE, AND FLY: THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF TAIWANESE FEMALE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS By CHING-YU CHANG THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE RE QUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008
2 2008 Ching-Yu Chang
3 To my parents, for their love and support
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, my sincere appreciation a nd adm iration goes to all flight attendants who had participated in my res earch project. Many of them are my previous colleagues and friends in China Airlines. Ever since they are aware of this project, they contribute their valuable time, full-hearted trust, generous assistances and insightful feedb ack to me without any reserve. My work would lose its signifi cant insider perspective without the bumpy journeys we traveled together, the views we observed above thirty thousands feet, the joyful moments we accompanied one another, or, the burning tears we swallowed when facing the heart-breaking crash. All these memories shared and born in mind accomplish us, to be the courageous female flight attendants. As I have committed to my sc holarship, I promise you this thesis is not an epilog but a prelude: I will keep writing our stories and let our muted voice be heard. My learning experiences in United States would be com pletely different without my faculty mentors. My deepest gratitude belongs to my advisor Dr. Constance L. Shehan. She assisted me to initiate my research project, gu ided me to refine my arguments and encouraged me to present my studies in several academic conferences. Her kindness and wisdom lead me to overcome the challenges I came across in th e pursuit of knowledge. Working with her empowered me in many different ways. I would also like to th ank my advisory committee Dr. Regina Bures from the bottom of my heart. She offered me her constant care and diligent help since my first semester in the sociology progr am, being her teaching assistant. She not only provided me valuable feedback to my research but also spared so much of her time and energy to better my writing and presentation skills. Her patience a nd understandings is one of my most precious treasures.
5 I am grateful to several faculty members at Un iversity of Florida, Dr. Monika Ardelt, Dr. Kendal L. Broad, Dr. Charles F. Gattone, Dr. Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, Dr. Herv n Vera and Dr. Barbara A. Zsem bik, who ever provided their valuable suggestions and profound comments at different stages of my researc h. In addition I would like to acknowledge seve ral important people with thankfulness. Dr. Mei-Hua Sung, who was my undergraduate professor in National Taiwan University and had known me for y ears, instilled my confidence and inspired me in my career transition process. Mr. Wang, whose identities need to be kept confidential due to the research ethnic reasons, exercised the resources to his best for my data-collection in the workplace. ChiaHao, the simple happiness we once were acquainted with had been framed and will be remembered. I also thank all of the wonderf ul cohorts and the staff in th e sociology departm ent, all the lovely people in the Taiwanese communities I met in the United States as well as my magnificent friends all over the world. Your friendships and kindness always warm my heart and keep loneliness away. Last, I am indebted to my family members, especially my parents, who love me and support m e without any condition. My father used to be a profe ssor before he retired from a university and my mother was forc ed to yield to her dream of becoming a high school teacher to life difficulties in her early ages. Therefore this thesis is dedicated to them. And I claim my commitment to take up the family tradition no matte r how much more sacrifices I need to make.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................8 CHAP TER 1 SPEAKING OUT THE MUTED VOICE S OF WOMEN W ITH WINGS............................ 10 Muted Voices of Flight Attendants......................................................................................... 12 Questions to Be Understood............................................................................................14 Role of the Researcher.....................................................................................................15 Doing Ethnography.................................................................................................................17 The Interviews.................................................................................................................17 Participation Observation................................................................................................22 Textual Analysis.............................................................................................................. 24 Entering/Re-entering the Field............................................................................................... 25 2 FRAMEWORKS AND THE STANCE IN THE LIT ERATURE.......................................... 26 Theoretical Framework.......................................................................................................... .26 Expectations of Gender Roles and Occupation............................................................... 26 Doing Gender..................................................................................................................28 Disciplined Body............................................................................................................... .....29 Emotional Labor................................................................................................................ .....30 Empirical Researches Review................................................................................................ 31 Gap of the Literatures.............................................................................................................32 3 CONSTRUCTED FEMININITY THRO UGH THE DI SCIPLINED BODIES..................... 34 Qualification of Work.......................................................................................................... ...34 How Do I Look?.....................................................................................................................38 In Her Uniform.......................................................................................................................43 Disciplined Bodies; Di sciplined Behaviors ............................................................................46 4 IN THE SKY AND ON THE GROUND: AM I QUALIFIED?............................................ 48 Long for Wings................................................................................................................. ......48 In the Cabin................................................................................................................... ..........51 Happily Ever After?............................................................................................................ ....54 Gendered Emotional Labor..................................................................................................... 56 5 DISCUSSIONS: INTERNALIZED MODE L ASIAN F EMININITY AND THE LIMITATION OF THE STUDIES........................................................................................ 58 Internalized Characteristics................................................................................................... .58
7 Model Asian Femininity.........................................................................................................60 The Limitation of Representation........................................................................................... 62 6 REFLEXITIVITY: LOVE, STRUGGLE, AND FLY............................................................ 64 Insider out...............................................................................................................................64 Voices on the Internet......................................................................................................... ....67 Love, Struggle, and Fly..........................................................................................................70 7 CONCLUSION: IN THE NAME OF FLYING ..................................................................... 73 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................77 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................80
8 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University Of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts LOVE, STRUGGLE, AND FLY: THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF TAIW ANESE FEMALE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS By Ching-Yu Chang May 2008 Chair: Constance L. Shehan Major: Sociology This research on Taiwanese flight attendant illus trates the female-dominated occupation in the Asian context, which contributes to the current dialogues dominated by the Western literatures. Flight attendants are mixed with a glorious beauty myth in se veral Asian countries. While this occupation always attracts so much public a ttention, research on fli ght attendants has been relatively few and limited to certain disciplines. In this research I explored how this occupation changes womens lives, how female flight atte ndants incorporate doing gender and emotional labor at work and how the femininity is constructed. The ethnographical methods of the research incl ude interviews, particip ation observations and textual analysis, were used to understand wo m en's experiences at work. During 2005 and 2006, a total of 32 interviews were conducted; participati on observations were done in several workrelated contexts and materials were collected from various media sources for textual analysis. Findings show that women's bodies are always supervised, monitored a nd disciplined in both visible and invisible m echanism when at work. In addition, femininity is emphasized and the "doing gender" process ensures their credibility and member ship at work. In addition, emotional labor is not only prac ticed in the cabin but in all wo rk-related contexts, even before
9 one is admitted to the position. A flight attendant fails to perform emotional labor to her patrons, co-workers, and supervisors in the context will find her quali fication in this occupation questioned. Moreover, female flight attendants emphasize their feminity in ways they manage and express their emotions. It is the gendered emotional labor they are producing to prevent themselves from being seen as an unqualified flight attendant. Because of the constant requirements of displaying femininity through their disciplined bodies and doing gendered emotional labor at work, these characterist ics are finally internalized as their own characteristics. Flight attendant s are projected as presenting the ideal of model of femininity. The researcher's insider positi on contributes to this research in m any different ways. In all, this research is significant not only because it addresses the gap in the current literature but also because e it has brought a unique perspe ctive in presenting the understudied women's experiences.
10 CHAPTER 1 SPEAKING OUT THE MUTED VOICES OF WOMEN WITH WINGS They were angels in their last lives. So now with their wings Always tracing back their memories bear in mind. Between the clouds. In the sky. Girls meant to fly. Name of theirs is Flight Attendant. Drawn from my fieldn ote1 Flight attendant has been an occupation m ixed with a glorious beauty myth in several Asian countries. In Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan, this occupation is regarded as an elite position rather than a job as waitress th at anyone could be qualified for. Age limitations, height and weight requirement s, education, multi-langua ge speaking abilities, cheerful characteristics as well as gorgeous appe arance together construct this female-dominated occupational position. Within such a construction process becomi ng a fl ight attendant not only means ones victorious award in a beauty pageant, but al so practically meaning ones prologue of selfindependence with lots of free traveling, luxury w ith high salary, exciting lives with novelties, and reportedly approximately 10-15 off days each month. These benefits are publically known2 1 This epigraph is drawn from my fieldnotes. Originally written in Mandarin and translated by myself, this poem, which sometimes comes in the form of a prose style paragraph, or some minor change of word usage, could often be found in different textual materials referring to people enga ge in this occupation, including flight attendants blogs describing themselves, on-line discussion forums, and the obituary of Ms. Shin-Mei Kao, one of the crew members who lost her life in the Crash of Flight CI-611 in Penghu, Taiwan on May 25, 2002. 2 Flight attendants in China Airlines had a strike in November 2005 to protest their long working hours and unreasonable duty assignments. A manager from administration of public relations in China Airline told media in an interview, We cannot figure out why they are protesting? They have good salary and when they are abroad they always stay in a 5-star hotel. This quote was later denied by China Airlines yet irritated their flight attendants for
11 attractions other pink-collar jobs cannot provide, even though they are not always true and do not reflect the negative sides of the occupation. It is not surp rising why many young girls are passionate for entering this career. For example, Ch ina Airlines, the largest international airlines company in Taiwan, had recruitment for flight attendants in 2004, and acc ording to the official data on their website, 7600 fully dressed-up young girls aged 20-25 years ol d, at least 5 in height, speaking Mandarin as well as English or even more, and with at least an A.A. or B.A., were competing through a three-month long interview process for only 80 open positions. Those who were not lucky in the competition can take their chance in another prestigious Taiwaneseowned EVA Air which also has international rout es, or several other companies recruiting for their domestic flights within Taiwan. Several other major airlines3 from abroad, even though not many, also seek their potential Ma ndarin-speaking Taiwanese flight attendants but sometimes make them leave their hometown to move to a nother country for work; or they are based in Taipei which limit them to operate flights to/fro m Taiwan only. Today China Airlines, the largest airline in Taiwan, has more than 44 international passenger service routes so the flight attendants always have hectic monthly schedules to fill up all those aircrafts, flying to destinations all over the world. And possible off days they can have in Taiwan are approximately 7-10 days, much less than half-month as known. Because of its occupational characteristics, these off-duty days are different each month and are subject to change; therefore it is not always possible to reserve the time they want to be available for impor tant occasions, such as a boyfriends birthday, a the company did not tell the truth (we are put in the mote l sometimes!) but used the public myth to create an image that they are greedy and unreasonable to against their justification of the strike. 3 Including Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Thai Airways (Thailand), Singapore Airlines (Singapore), Japan Asia Airways (Japan), Air Macau (Macau), Un ited Airlines (U.S.A.), Northwest Air lines (U.S.A.), Emirates Airlines (United Arab Emirates) and Gulf Air (Bahrain).
12 sisters wedding, a classmate reunion, or getting together with family members in Chinese New Year. Expected or unexpected time conflict is one of m any difficult issues those lucky young ladies come across after acquiri ng the crown of the title flight attendant and realize their occupational lives are not always as they wish. First of all they will receive serious training, from aircraft knowledge and service procedures to grooming regulations, manners and behaviors when in the uniform. After the tr ainees join the line of flying, they will learn other hidden knowledge at work that was never taught by their tr aining manuals but by their senior colleagues. Juniors know they should always being respectful to seniors while they dont know how mean senior colleagues can be, or how to distract an upset male purser by exercising feminine characteristics. Service techniques are polished and refined after practic ing and performing with passengers on board. How to put on make-up, arra nge a hair-style, contro l weight to ensure fitting into the personal-made uniform, or following the dress code when staying overnight in hotels or showing up at crew center in Taipei are other detailed instances of tacit knowledge lied in their sub-cultures. Muted Voices of Flight Attendants While this occupation always attracts so much public attention, surprisingly, research on flight attendants has been relatively few and lim ited to certain disciplines. The keyword flight attendant could appear in studi es related to air engineering, f light safety, tourism business management and medical health (Boyd and Bai n, 1998). In these studies even though flight attendants are seen to be the research objects, and the findings might be beneficial to people engaged in this occupation (e.g., Chang 2006; Ren 2004), in-depth understanding of flight attendants experiences is not the aim. Research on flight attendants in so cial sciences is even more invisible after the classic work The Managed Heart: Commercialization of human feeling
13 by Arlie Russel Hochschild in 1983. As descri bed earlier, the prevailing beauty myth is intertwined with this occupation in the Asian countries; young wo men attracted to this position may later perceive the distinctions between their imaginations and realities. Examining the experiences of Asian female flight attendants is more than essential. It will address the absence of the muted authentic voices of women e ngaged in the occupati on. Understanding their interpretations, negotiations and practices be tters our knowledge of gender and work, and it contributes to the dialogues currently dominated by cases in the western societies. To practically conduct this re search project, I narrowed m y focus on Taiwanese female flight attendants working for China Airlines, which is not only the largest but also the first airline company in Taiwan. This justification was base d on several reasons. Firs t, with its 40 year history, it has built up a systematic, institutionalize d process in terms of employers training and career development. Also, compared to other Ta iwanese airline enterprises, the demographic characteristics of the current flight attendant s (i.e., age, gender, a nd years of occupational experiences) could be more diverse, which could provide more detail ed sketch of this occupation. The varieties of flight routes implicating different working cond itions are more representative. Years of flight attendants work ing experiences do not simply re fer to the period of time flight attendants work in this company but also it could include, if any, the time engaging in this occupation in other airline companies. China Ai rlines is known for its leading role among air service industries in Taiwan. In the flight attendants recruitmen t, newly-graduated or graduateto-be is usually not one of the re quirements, while the other major international airline, Eva Air, usually requires so. Because of these two reas ons, many flight attendants working for other companies are also attracted to seek their chance to join China Airlines and could possibly realize their wishes. By recrui ting respondents from this company I am able to come across
14 people who used to work for other airlines. It served as a convenient way to collect flight attendants experiences in other companies as well, especially with concer ns of my limited time in Taiwan to conduct interviews.4 This strategy later on proves to be successful even though I did not purposely trying to locate people who have worked as flight attendants in several companies. Last, the researchers personal resour ces and extensive contacts in China Airlines could contribute an important part in conducting this research smoothly. All together these reasons explain how focusing on China Airlines c ould help to meet the goal of understanding as many Taiwanese flight attendants life experiences as possible in this research. Questions to Be Understood As described earlier this research aims to understand how being a flight attendant influences w omens lives. I do not plan to conduct research that is similar to the existing ones, which usually regard flight attendants as no more than objects to carry on the study purposes. Stories of how women engaged in this gendere d occupation have not been understood from a position of subjectivity. That is, I aim to explore womens experiences of embodied gender work in the workplace, and under this premise how their working experiences are shaped, and how these valuable working experi ences which cannot be acquired by anyone influence womens lives. Eventually I aim to construct the subjectivit y of this specific occupational group of females by letting them speak their own voices. These in itiatives serve as my research rationales. As a previous flight attendant myself, my personal perceptions served as a basis in preparing my initial research que stions. For instance, after phys ica lly leaving the occupational context and literally cutting th e connection after my resignati on, by looking back it inform 4 Even so, I still regard not being able to conduct inte rviews with flight attendants in companies besides China Airlines as one of the limitation this research has. When in the field I tried to spread words of mouth to see if any potential respondents from Eva Air or other companies are willing to participate in my studies, yet the response is limited, which does not surprised me. This will be further discussed in Chapter 5.
15 myself how much I have changed and have been influenced by my previous occupation. While I could also recall my colleagues sharing similar e xperiences in different scenarios, the idea of sociological imagination urges me to question if what I have observe d, perceived, and sensed, whether from my own or my colleagues opinion s, belongs to our individual encounters on a personal basis or on certain hidden principles we might never thi nk of recognizing their existences. If the answer is the latter, wh at and how we could identify and explain ii sociologically turning the value of women s voices. Based on this concept, I let my understandings and perceptions of female flight attendants experiences shaped these questions to be answered: How does this occupation change, if any, women s lives in any ways since they began to seek the opp ortunity to work with airlin e companies, and become more experienced through the years? How do female flight attendants incorporate doing gender and em otional labor at their work, whether interacting with in-fli ght passengers or their colleagues? How do the requirements of employment, training and regulation at work include the tacit knowledge that em phasizes femininity as its characteristic? How is their gender conceptualization constr ucted by the society of fe male-dominated occupation? Role of the Researcher As I have discussed above, I aim to ma ke conne ctions between womens lives and sociological scholarship. My iden tity shaped this research at every stage of my project. This research was initiated in Novemb er 200 was more significant about the timing was, four months earlier, I was still working for China Airlines as one of their flight atte ndants. Seven years of working experiences provided me abundant inform ation to conduct this research. My emotional bonding to this group of people closely connects me, as a researcher to the women in the field, who used to be my colleagues and still treat me as one of them. Rapport between the researcher
16 and the respondents could be easily built up, since I am not an outsider. In the meantime, my privilege as non-outsider was the background knowledge I have acquired and shared with people in the field, which might not always accessible to the outside researchers5. My identity as a previous flight attendant myse lf, cannot, should not, and would not be removed from this research. Instead, it should be acknowledged to contribute to the uniqueness of this study. In the meantime, by acknowledging my identity, it is also ad mitted that this research was not initiated by a nave outside re searcher who happens to find th is topic could be interesting. When I came to the U.S. for my advanced degr ee I had another resear ch topic in mind, which was in fact inspired by some experiences I came across at work but has nothing to do with the occupation of flight attendants.6 Yet after immersing myself into this discipline I started to realize the gap in the literature: even though flight attenda nt is seen as an elite occupation with many benefits, the voices of women who engaged in this occupation are absent. Even though my past working experiences serve as the fundamental basis of initia ting the research, and also as described above contribute to the outcome to certa in extent, I did jump to any conclusion before I (re)entered into the field as a researcher. Neither did I ever try to intentionally find any testimony to support the arguments, which actually did not exist before I began to analyze the data. Indeed as every human being I also make judgments to the context I am in, which reflect my perspective as an insider. Meanwhile, as a re searcher I keep my outsider role to my best by reserving my opinions to myself, or exposed to the extent that an insider should be able to empathy the situation but not changing the words my respondents want to express. I have tried 5 For instance, some information regarding flight security, companys secrets, or individual privacy need to be kept confidential to any unrelated others but can be reve aled to me, if not thats not what I already perceived, without any hesitation. 6 My original motivation was to study on the experiences of women from South-East Asian countries immigrating to Taiwan because of merchandized marriages.
17 my best to balance between the objective perspe ctive a research should keep and the subjective position a previous flight attendan t should take. What I insist to do was to let the voices to be spoken by the flight attendants themselves. The fact that I was also one of them sharing the same experiences did contribute the part ial conclusion in the way I shape this research, the tone of my story-telling and the sense-making analysis process, but from the very first beginning I did not see my sole interpretation the c onclusion itself. In f act, by reevaluating my previous job through a sociological lens, I have learned a lot of dimens ions from the overview an insider as I was in the past could hardly observe. Doing Ethnography To fulfill my goal as probing Taiwanese female f light attendants live experiences I apply an ethnographic research strategy in collecting qualitative data. Research methodology includes interviews, participation observations and textual analysis. The timeline of the research was divided into two stages due to the researchers schedule in acce ssing the field. The first stage was mainly for conducting interviews between late December 2005 and the beginning of January in 2006. Data collections were more extensive and in -depth in the second stage for more time and energy of the researcher could be devoted to the field during the th ree months stay in Taiwan and on her way back to the United States, from late May to mid August in 2006. At this stage participant observations and text ual collections methods were also used in addition to conducting interviews. The Interviews One-on-one personal interviewing was my main re search m ethodical strategy. Instead of focus groups, which may be perfect to grasp a general idea of the opinions from my respondents and may raise new topics I never thought of I decided to put aside this method for two reasons: first, considering the heterogeneous working schedule of my respondents, to hold a focus group that
18 meets up with every participants schedule will be quite challenging, espe cially since my field research was conducted in the high seasons of travelling, which means my respondents are occupied with work even more. Second, In China Airlines, as many others in the Asian airline companies, flight attendants working cultures is hierarchical. Junior f light attendants must respect senior flight attendants opinions and most of the time juniors should follow seniors instructions. With this background members in th e focus group may hesitate to express opinions that may be offensive to those who are senior or junior in the group, especially when they talk about incidents they have between colleagues due to the hierarchical wo rkplace. In some cases however, more than one respondent was interviewe d at one time because of their suggestions. The respondents relationships in these cases are usually good friends, which means the rapport and their friendships they have built up could override the hierar chy. And in these cases, it is always the respondent I meant to interview brou ght up the possibility to bring another flight attendant along. They see the interv iew as a chance for them to ge t together with their friends and become more like a social occasion. Potential respondents were easier to be targeted f rom my pr evious-built relationships. In the first stage I began with inte rviewing flight attendants I still have contact with. Also a snowball sampling method was used to re cruit potential respond ents. With my privilege as an insider, I discovered one of the best ways was to presen t myself in the crew center to seek flight attendants and management personnel who are availabl e to talk to me in th eir spare time, or they could multi-task during the interview. For example, one respondent generously let me interviewed her at her convenienc e: after she was released from her duty as a flight attendant operating a Taipei-Hong Kong flight in the morni ng, she had one and half hour for herself to stretch and relax a little bit, ta king care of some bills at the ba nk, and socialize with other flight
19 attendants also in the crew center before the ca ll from her role as a moth er required her to pick up my kid from school. Also many flight attendants engage in talk ing to me to kill time or set up an appointment for formal interviews dur ing their standby duties which requires them physically present themselves at the crew cen ter for occasional flights that might need a substitute flight attendant to fill into the ope n duty due to anothers emergent sickness, being caught in the traffic or other va rious reasons. Some interviews with the supervisors were done during their lunch break, or when they were d ealing with some routines not requiring much attention when talking with me. In the first stage 11 interviews were c onducted and in the second one there were 21 interviews. In total 32 interviews were conducted, including 28 fe male flight attendants, 2 female pursers, and 1 male ground superv isor and 1 female ground supervisor. Their age ranged from 21 years old to approximately 50 years old. Because of the age limitation of the flight attendants recruitment, the different age cohor ts also reflect their working expe riences as a flight attendant, which also implies their position in the occupati onal hierarchy. Therefore for an age of 22 suggests a newly-joined crew member, the age of 30 implies an experienced crew member being in line for 8-9 years, and the age of 40 or more implies a managerial pos ition as a purser or a ground supervisor. In total, 26 of my respondent s fell into the age category between 21 to 32 years old, 2 are between 33 and 40, and the other 4 are above 40 year s old. The original plan of interview was estimated within an hour length and notified the respondents so beforehand. Yet very few of them did end up within an hour. In fact, most of them lasted two to three hours, which had provided abundant and resourceful qualitative data supporting this research. Responding to how my respondents regard the formal, academic-minded interviewing as more social occasion, two of my respondents spontaneo usly came back to me again after our first
20 interview to continue our chat with another re spondent you may also want to talk to they recruited for me. Considering the limited free tim e in Taiwan they coul d squeeze between their hectic schedules, their endeavor in helping my research, which I sincerel y appreciate, should be acknowledged in the harmonious relationships betw een the researcher and the respondents, and reflected from the perspective of how they see themselves in this research dedicating to present their thoughts fairly. An interview guideline was prepared before I be gan m y first interview and I kept it at hand in every interview I conducted. At first, the ini tial few interviews I conducted always began with the ritual of asking my respondents to sign the consent form and briefing about them the questions later I plan to ask and record their answers. As more interviews had been conducted and I felt more and more familiar with managing the interview techniques, I gradually tended not to show my respondents this guideline during my briefing unless they request it, which most of time came out of curiosity (what is that?) rather than checking on for concerns. Later, especially at the second stage I found the interview guideline was unnecessary in many cases. It is because of the atmosphere would eventually become more like a g et-together-to-complain and gossip occasion between colleagues and frie nds, rather than a formal interview between researcher and respondent, even though my runni ng tape-recorder reminded such relationships for both of us. Instead of using specific guide line in m anaging the intervie w structure, what I always described to my respondents about my intent when I kindly asked for an appointment of interview was I would like to liste n to your thoughts upon our job, how you think of it, and how do you perceive you rself at work. And you could te ll me whatever you want to tell me.
21 When looking back I see this self-revelation played as a m agic sentence in terms of the interviews. For instance one respondent beginning to ta lk as soon as she saw me in the caf we managed to meet, even before we stopped by the counter to order our drinks. She continued her, quoted herself, overwhelming complaints illust rated by one stories afte r another for the next following three hours. When she finally wanted to stop and be excused for the restroom, I read my interview guide and realized she had answered all my questions without me asking them, and had offered me her profoundly, insightful percepti ons far beyond I asked for. This impressive case was not quite unique and similar scenarios re peated in my other interviews with flight attendants. It not only reflect to how my respondents see me as one of them whom they could trust, but also, on the other hand, implying how th is occupational group shares common concerns, worries, emotional and physical experiences. As I cl early indentify my intent is to know better on other flight attendants thoughts on our jobs, my respondents, ther efore, respond to what I said with the assumptions I could completely un derstand them well and I am mostly likely to agree with the overwhelming complaints I probab ly also have myself, and I am interested in listening to that, which share by all people engagi ng in this occupation. It also indicates the findings of this research could hi ghly represent their experiences. The analysis strategy is roughly based on the Charm azs (2006) version of grounded theory methods. I analyzed interviews conducted in the first stage of the res earch and grouped several important themes. In the second stage of the rese arch more themes were identified and confirmed as findings. To my best knowledge and ability al l the data had been interpreted within the context, which is what I see as one major spir it of Charmazs version of grounded theory.. Even though it is time and energy consuming in transcri bing interviews that la sted two to three hours on average, I insisted on doing everything myself My respondents trusted me and shared many
22 sensitive details in their lives, and such trust s hould not be only considered as some first-hand data; I would not want to reveal their trust to the third party without first dealing with the individual privacy properly. Second, becau se we share background knowledge as flight attendants, the content of the interview always included many pr ofessional jargons that could create confusions later in my analysis if the person who did the transcriptions failed to follow the dialogues. And to do it in the most efficient and practical way, at this point I only transcribe and analyze the parts that directly related to the findings presente d in this thesis. Participation Observation Besides the extensive intervie ws, num erous participation obs ervations were conducted in diverse work-related contexts, including the crew center where flight attendants report to work, international flights from Tokyo (in June, 2006), Bangkok (in July, 2006) and Los Angeles (in August, 2006) to and from Taipei.7 Also with their invitations, I jo ined flight attendants off-duty social activities during their la yovers in Bangkok and Los Angeles a nd generously treated as one of the group members. My advantage as an insider made this research stand out for being able to observe the interactions happening in the places an outsi d er might find difficulties to be exposed to. Comparing to the context of oneon-one interviews, my advantage as an insider especially stand out. Without any research material such as interv iew guidelines or tape-rec order in presence, my position in the field doing participation obser vation is often mantled even though I did not 7One of the benefits airline employees have is to get disc ounted or free air tickets. Be fore I resigned from China Airlines I acquired several tickets of such for the anticipat ed vacations I finally found I had no time for before I move to the U.S. for my studies. Before they expired in fall 2006 I made use of them for my participation observations, which were not my original plan when these tickers were issued. The ticket used for Tokyo was for a personal trip with family members and for the flight I to ok, the crew member did not have a layover in Tokyo. As for the flight to Bangkok, I met up and stayed with my colleague friend who was in Bangkok for her duty flight therefore caught this chance to be with other crew members. I also made use of my flight travelling between Taiwan and the U.S. As I stayed in Los Angeles for a few days befo re I flew to Florida, my pa rticipation observation as well as an interview was successfully conduc ted during crew members lay over.
23 purposely do so. My differences sometimes never revealed themselves until the encounters at the moment like this, if it ever occurred: Which flight youre on duty now? No, I am not on dutyI stayed with Yi (my friend) now. Are you on annual leave? Was it easy to get on a seat for standby ticket? The flight is quite full isn t it? How long will you stay here? Actually I not flight attendant any morethis is m y last few discounted ticket excerpted from my fieldnotes during the layover in Bangkok. This conversation was at the breakfas t buffet of the hotel Whats your room number? Oh, I am staying at my friends place. Another flight attendant explained for me I ha ve left CAL for gradua te school and will go back to F lorida tomorrow. Later another flight attendant arrived. She recalled I once told her I planned to resign, happily found I did do so. She kindly proposed this offer, Do you have a place to stay? Y ou could stay with us in crew hotel tonight. They have free shuttle to the airport. W hen is your flight? excerpted from my fieldnotes durin g my visit to the hotel crew members stay in Los Angeles It is clear that my credibility in the field wa s seldom challenged unle ss I purposely redefined my role. Another good example happened in Decembe r 2005 during my field research in Taiwan. I went back to visit the crew center for my previous colleagues and acquaintances in management division, the guard at the entrance gate of crew center neve r thought to check if I have appropriate identification befo re he let me enter. He was surprised when I told him I am a visitor, and after he und erstood I was a former flight attend ant I could obviously observe a no wonder look on his face. Later when I rethink of this triviality, I notice that I did dress myself unconsciously following the past standards I presented at crew center: neat look, high-heeled shoes, in certain fashionable style, with light make-up and a nice handbag. If I visit the crew center with my student look, woul d the guard still let me enter the controlled area without any hesitation? To enter the crew center, a pers on without appropriate id entification card every employee should have will be asked to apply for a temporary admittance, therefore as a non-
24 employee being permitted to enter the controlled area without questioning. This again illustrated the researchers position in the field. Textual Analysis I see looking into the general publics opinion on this occupa tion as well as the airline advertisem ents and publications could provide us understandings of the expectations and imagery of this occupation projec ts, or, to be more specifically, how women engaged in this occupation being expected to perform in order to meet up with the an ticipation, resulting how they are required to do at work. In this logic, to my best I collected the material related to flight attendants, including articles from newspapers, magazines, books, advertisements from airlines companies websites, flyers from some privat e schools selling their se rvices to prepare young women for successfully passing the job interviews and becoming flight attendants. In addition, I made all means to collect any other for ms of ma terials written or created by flight attendants themselves, in cluding their articles posted on their blogs, photo albums and their message boards. I also screened several on-line di scussion forums on flight attendants I had been involved and active in since I st ill engaged in this occupation8. The texts I have acquired as an enthusiastic but silent reader like others, however, was not us ed to be analyzed for my findings but was pondered constantly to shape my ideas, thoughts, and self-debatin g in my process of conducting this research. In the meantime, I di d not take advantage of the anonymity on the internet to purposely evoke discussions on f light attendants. All th ese forums had been established and existed for a few years. The only dialogues I would id entify being initiated myself are the articles I had been writing in my native language on my personal blog about my own memories of being a flight attendant. As it will be discussed later in the chapter on 8 Since 1998 I occasionally began to post articles I wrote my lives as a flight attendant in several on-line forums and have established my fame on-lin e for writing these articles.
25 reflectivity, it is quite interesting to observe how people see me shari ng these personal, vivid experiences at work. Entering/Re-entering the Field As soon as I observed the gap in the current academic discussions on this femaledom inated occupation in Asian context, I imme diately made up my mind to devote my time and energy to this occupational community I once belonged to, and still regarded myself, and being regard by them, as one of the members still. Yet it is essential to distinguish my emotional connection toward this group of people as an inside r from my outsider role as a researcher. Even though at this moment I could pres ent my findings and arguments fr om an omniscient stance, at that moment when I decide to enter, or to be more precisely, to re-enter the field I am familiar with, definitely there was worries and concerns of uncertainty in my mind. It is because I am so familiar with the field, I understand it requires me even much more carefulness and prudence to examine my findings for fear that I might overlook the details I take for granted, or I might jump to the conclusion based on my personal judgmen t rather the common recognitions from the collective experiences of flight attendants. I believe I have done my best to fulfill this task and present flight attendants expe riences in their own voices.
26 CHAPTER 2 FRAMEWORKS AND THE STAN CE IN THE LITERATURE Why dont you just give us surveys as others did? Yeah, we could just fill in the numbers for you. Drawn from my fieldnote These quotes are the comments made by two fli ght attendants after learning m y plan was to conduct interviews instead of giving out surveys as others. Their tone and intonation were obviously not challenging my research methods, but, as they explain themselves by their following remarks, It will be easier for you to do your work and we could distribute surveys for you, a considerate proposal to their former colleague. Thei r comments remained as an unimpressive anecdote in my fieldnotes yet came b ack and haunted me ever since I finished my ethnographic field work in Taiwan and began probi ng in previous literatu res related to gender, female-dominated occupation as well as studies on flight attendants. And I am going to discuss my theoretical framework as well as the existed em pirical studies in this chapter and later explain the reasons why I see their comments empha size the significance of my research. Theoretical Framework The ideas of gender roles, doing gender, power to m anipulate and discipline human bodies as well as emotional labor serve as the theoretical basis of this research. Expectations of Gender Roles and Occupation Gender refers to the set of arrangement s by which a society transform s biological sexuality into products of human activity, and in which these transformed needs are satisfied. (Reiter 1975) Gender role is define d to be a set of behavioral norms and social expectations associated with males or females. Parsons and Bales (1955) proposed the theory to distinct the
27 difference roles men and women play in family. The masculine role is more task or instrumental and the feminine roles defined to be more expressive and socio-emotional In this theory, the woman are believ e to be more capable in the expressive, emotional activities such as fulfilling the internal functions and st rengthen the ties within the family Men, on the contrary, performed the external of the family such as providing financial support. Following this tradition, the expected gender roles divide women and men into different categories: women have been expected to seek pe rsonal development by caring for ot hers, while men care for others by sharing the rewards of their independent work achievements. (Gerson 2002) Also the socially assumptions on successful female role model of housekeeping in contrast of males roles as bread-winners can be observed in different cultures backgrounds. (e.g., Beoku-Betts 1995; Steil 1997) Gender roles could also been st rengthened and emphasized in m edia. For example the content in advertisements for household goods emphasizes domestic labor is females responsibilities and promotion of an ideology about housework that reinforced women's de dication to it. (Fox 1990) In addition to performing housekeeping du ties, other characteristics of females expressive and emotional role such as being care -givers for children or for the elders According to Aronson (1992) such ideology was constructed by the society expectation, female regard care works as their responsibilities or no one else will do it. The discussions on the expected females g ender role not only limit within how it is practiced within the institution as family. It al so leads the dialogues to address other societal dimensions, such as occupations. Kapp Howe ( 1977) discussed the female-dominated, so-called pink-collar jobs and her examples include waitre ss, hairdresser, florist, nurses, secretary, receptionist, tutor, babysitter, maid, nanny, cosmetol ogist, editor and pianist. These jobs are
28 examples of projecting these expectations on females which responding to the discussions on female gender role. Also, these jobs are assumed to be non-skilled required. It might also imply the lower income and less care opportunity for women because they are not assumed to support the family as men do. In all, gender roles are expected not only to be f ulfilled in the family lives, but also in the workplace. Female are assumed to be prudent, pa tient, caring and kind. In this sense, certain types of occupations are assumed to be more appropriate for females as the pink collars job examples. Doing Gender West and Zimmerman (1987) conceptualized th e idea of doing gender. Distinguished fro m biological ascription as sex; gender is an achievement cons tructed through psychological, cultural, and social means, and is not like a speci fic context with names so that whoever put into that context will be called by that. Being a gendered person in society involves in the interaction works within different social situ ations. West and Zimmerman continue with the resources for doing gender. The differences betw een genders are identifie d and created; other social or cultural frameworks help to construc ted the difference and jointly make the differences stand out, in other words these frameworks ar e encouraging and appropr iating the performance people devote to display. Also the images of mu scular (i.e., brave, aggr essive, strength) and the feminine traits (i.e., timid, tender, weakness) ar e emphasized as the standards, and if people are expect to have the traits accordi ng to their sex as the natural char acteristics; if people dont have these traits, or people are not sure if they have they must do ge nder to meet the standard. As a circle the doing gender will be internalized and reinforced in the socialization. West and Zimmerman then refer to the two sex categories. In a world of dualism people assume there are (only) two sexes therefore people produce the behaviors responding to the sex categories we fall
29 into and in the mean time people expect othe rs also do so. However sex categorization is different from the accomplishment of gender: one may fail to convey the images of femininity others expect (accomplishment of gender) but we will not say it is not female and exclude this person out of the sex categorization. In this sense, gender is an ac tion people produce and express themselves in the social setting wh ile sex is biological identity people own. Following the discussion, gender expressions at work require accountability and peo ple who fail to fit the image by perf orming gender accordingly will find their professional ability are questioned and challenged. (Rees and Garnsey 2003; Forseth 2005) Halls studies on service industry workers, waiter and waitresses (1993) discuss on how work organizations construct gender relations by allocate m en and women to different positions and evaluate their job performances by how well gender is done. At this point, our understandings of the intersections between gender and occupation have advance fr om how the expected, ascribed gender roles being related to the occupational categories, to how workers take initiative in performing gender to credit their qualifications. Disciplined Body In his book Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison in 1975, Foucault presented his idea on th e power over human bodies. He saw in th e military the techniques to manipulate bodies reflect man is viewed as a machine. Similar conception could also be examined in prisons, schools, and hospitals. According to Foucault the manipulation over hu m an was to be uninterrupted, constant, and detailed and it finally leads to the keyword, discipline. He then developed the arguments on different, detailed techniques passing from one in stitution to another eventually together made up a new micro physics of power over individual bodies, which then spread throughout the social body itself, including th e punishment system.
30 Discipline requires confinement to the certain disciplinary space to accommodate the people, such as brooding schools and factories. Individuals within beco m e machines and yield themselves to the ultimate power over their bodies. Emotional Labor Sociologist Arlie Russel Hochschild first de fined the term emotional labor in her book The Managed Heartcommercialization of human feeling (1983). Based on her studies on flight attendants working for Delta Airlines in 1980, her definition of emotional labor is "management of feeling to create a publicity observable facial and bodily disp lay. It involves people engage in the service occupation endeavor to manage their em otions so they are consistent with the display rules on what kind of emotions are allowed to ex press at work, regardle ss of their internal feelings. According to Hochschild, jobs involving emo tional labo r are defined as those require faceto-face or voice-to-voice contact w ith the public; the workers need to produce an emotional state in another person; and last al low the employees to exercise a degree of control over their emotional activities. The process of modifying one's own emoti ons and expressions is called emotion regulation. In emotion regulations, indi viduals need to modify initial feelings by changing the situation or the cognitions of the situation, or modify their behaviors by suppressing, faking or amplifying an emotional response. This acting process c ould made individuals successfully accomplish the occupational requir ements, make them experience the positive effects such as increasing sense of personal acco mplishment; however, it could also contribute to the negative experiences such as the stress, emotional exhaustion, de pression, and a sense of inauthenticity.
31 Williams work in 2003 is an example of the post-Hochschild discussions on emotional labor. It co llected both qualitat ive and quantitative data from Au stralian flight attendants. She indicates that emotional labor is both pleasurab le and difficult at different times for the same individual. On the other hand, she introduced the gender perspective by linking emotional labor with sexual harassment and passenger abuse, and found it is as an impacting factor on emotional health. Empirical Researches Review Reviewing the history of flight attendant he lps us to understand how the occupation has been a fem ale-dominated job. Nielsen (1982) recorded the history of fli ght attendants in the United States. Boeing Air Transport, which is th e United Airlines predece ssor, firstly employed women as cabin service in 1930. They were calle d hostess and stewardess, which implying the occupation require females engaging in foodservice as waitresses do in the restaurant. Employer policy soon prescribed that the stew ardess had to be not only young but also slim attractive, white and these component are importa nt for airline marketing and public relations. These employment standards can be regarded as the roots of the beauty myth coming along with this occupation. The majority of the latest researches on this occupation in the post-Hochschild era, responding to what has been pointed out earlier, treated flight a ttendants either as ornam ents carrying the study purposes or as quantitative data, in my colleagues word numbers (e.g., Haise and Ruckers work on the uniform and company im age in 2003; or studies from tourism and nursing care by Chang (2006) and Ren (2004). At this point flight attendants put into the discussions are on western womens experiences. For instance Wh iteleggs work, as latest as in 2005, addressing womens experiences in the re quired mobility due to the occupation characteristics is based on American f light attendants based in Atlanta.
32 Women engaging this occupation in an Asian s ociety is absent from the mainstream dialogues. Therefore it is exciti ng to be able to locate several pieces on flight attendants in an Asia context which incorporate with gender pers pective. Tyler and Pamela (1998) studied on the weight watching behaviors among Indian flight attendants. Yang (2004) concluded male flight attend ants could experience identity struggles in this female-dominated career based on the very limited resources he could acquire for his research. Hsus thesis for her degree in Journalism in 1996, titled Well-dressed Cinderella --Female f light attendant at the workplace has been most cited work in studying Taiwanese flight attendant in all social science discip lines. It might not be because her study was extensive and acknowledged, but because her work has been the only published academic study on this occupation, which alwa ys attracts so much attention in Taiwan. Hsus work focused on how womens beauty and bodies emphasized in the media to project the company images. Also she discussed how sex ha rassments in the workplace intertwined with such beauty myth. Gap of the Literatures When put into previous lite rature into consideration, I would like to address the perspective of intersection betw een gender and work by bring into pe rspectives illustrated in Asian womens own voices. And this explains th e reasons why I would not give them (us) surveys and make my work easier. Womens experiences needed to be understood beyond the numbers. By understanding womens experiences in this unique female-d ominated occupational context, the significant contribu tion of my study is to addres s the gap in the literature. The aim to conduct this qualitative research was not to dispute if the im age of flight attendants should or should not be projected in the way as Hsu also described. Instead, I would like to understand on the individual level, how these working experiences shape, influence or change their lives, whether women in this occupation have perceived they might be manipulated
33 by the invisible power. In the next chapter I woul d like to discuss how fli ght attendants perceive themselves when they are in their di sciplined space, that is, workplace.
34 CHAPTER 3 CONSTRUCTED FEMININITY THRO UGH THE DISCI PLINED BODIES During the 47th anniversary birthday party, a veteran flight attendant leading another 21 cabin crew wore traditional uniform s fr om different time periods, to display the companys rich history...This marks CAL s first uniform change in 11 years For a long time, China Airlines used the traditional cheongsam as its uniform, because the cheongsam reflects a special Oriental aesthetic for womens wear. However, to fit modern requirements, the new uniform combines beauty, fitness and convenience, and a more ergonomic cut was adopted to emphasize both function and spirit. Inspired by CAL s corporate logo (a plum flower) the new uniforms come in three colors, including velvety purple and plum blossom for cabin chiefs and supervisors, and purple gray and plum blossom for flight attendants and ground staff. China Airlines Celebrat es 47th Anniversary media news announcement English version, released at December 4, 2006, Taipei The most important reason to have flight attendants on board is for the flight safety rather for m eal service as people may assume. Flight attendants are trained to equip themselves with abundant and extensive knowledge of the aircraft, and to handl e the emergency situations independently, including evacuat ing passengers in the worst s cenarios. Yet besides being knowledgeable to these essential as a qualified ca bin crewmember, Asian flight attendants are also anticipated to meet additional standards and fulfill extra responsibilities. As reported in the news, flight attendants embodied the impression th e airline company aim to make. In this chapter I explore how womens experien ces the constructions of femi ninity through their bodies. Qualification of Work Most airline companies have indicated physical features requirem ents in the recruitments of flight attendants, the fact of which often regarded as th e common sense people who are interested in applicati on should be aware of. The recruitment is a long process, which may last two to three months. Even though the details might differs for each airlines, recruitment activities for flight attendants in Taiwan us ually involve at least two face to face interviews, English ability
35 tests, an aptitude test and finally a physical ch eck-up on health condition. In the first face-to-face interview, all applicants will be carefully scrutini zed if the height meets the standards before they could proceed further in this process. For female applicants the height rest riction is to be above 160 centimeter (approximately 5 feet 3 inches); and for males 170 centimeter (approximately 5 feet 7 inches) is the minimum. Many of th e respondents recall their first job interview experiences in similar tone. Afte r entering into the huge auditorium (later known to be the crew training center) and successfully passing the scrutiny of height, they then proceeded to a long line waiting for interview with many other young females who we re also fully dressed up and endeavored to be looked like a r eal flight attendant. The atmo sphere in the auditorium was tense and everyone seemed to be nervous, yet as soon as enteri ng into this a uditorium people automatically see themselves should behave elegantl y, speak softly, and intera ct with others with careful manners. As described above in this very first conf rontation with the occupational culture, the stres sful job interview had turned the space into a context that incorporated no candidate failing to meet the physical feature requirement such as height, or failing to behave properly under such stress. Lin, a 30-year-old female flight attendant with 7 years long working years told me her girl friends story. The first thing they did was to measure the height. I knew Im fine (with 168cm ) but my girl friend who is 159 cm knew she might be in trouble. We talked a bout it and she already had mental preparation she w ould failthe flight attendant 1 told her she is not qualified because she is 1 centimeter less than the requi rement. My girl friend begged her to let her enter the center, at least give me a chance t he flight attendant told her she had come across so many others similar to her case. Her supervisors had required her to stick to the rule and there should be no exception! My girlfriend cried OUT LOUD at once even 1 In the interview process there are always current flight attendants being asked to assist in the pre-interview process, such as measuring the interviewees height as in this cas e, distributing materials, maintaining the lines in order, giving directions etc.
36 though she knew it is most likely to happen in the very first place. It was shameful because everyone was looking. When I asked Lin to talk to me about the interview she was in 7 years ago she said she has forgotten everything and only m y girlfriends tears are the only thing I can still remember vividly. Later in the interview when we talk ed about the difficult pa ssengers on board and her gradually lost of patience, her girl friend o ccurred to her mind again so she commented: Well if it is my girlfriend that I told you ear lier with 159 cm com ing across this I bet she would be much more qualified to be a flight attendant compared to me. (I: Why?) Because she is such a tender person and sh e always speaks softly. But sadl y she is too short after all. Another younger flight atte ndan t told me her experience two years ago: Someone said in the on-line discussion forum about how she successfully passed the height screening process by putting san itary napkin in her panty hose under her heels so that she could becom e higher even without the shoes! But I believe they (the company) already know about how applicants m ight cheat. I noticed that they look especially close to those w ho are about the minimum height and make sure they dont hide anything under their heels. It would be shameful if got caught. According to their authorities, height restricti on is im portant in order to make sure flight attendants could easily reach out their hands to close the overhead bin or help passengers with their luggage. Yet from my personal experience, wh ich is also confirmed in the dialogues with other colleagues experiences, even though I did pass the feature screeni ng with my 5 feet 4 inches in height, and could be even taller with my high heeled shoes, I could still experience difficulties in closing the heavy, full-loaded ove rhead bins in my tight uniform. Sometimes I would rather take off my shoes to stand on the passengers seat to reach for the bin easier and more gracefully. Or if I am lucky enough I migh t borrow a hand from my male colleagues or some kind male passengers. And this brings in to another interesting point: if the height restriction is really as important as the emphasis, regardless of the fact it might not help that
37 much in the cabin working environment, why th ere would be differences between the minimum standard between male and female? Couldnt men be shorter than required since that still meet the standard or women would be asked to be taller? This implies how airline companies filter the candidates with certain type of body features they prefer to s ee their flight attendants have, in such a disguised mechanism and as shown earlier candidates would make effort to change their bodies accordingly. The qualified body is the first thing to be confirmed. While height may not easily be changed, ca ndidates (and later m ight become a trainee flight attendant) could attempt to make their ap pearances like a real flight attendant. Airline companies often request the applicants attires in the interviews. For ex ample, the recruitment announcement on China Airlines offici al website clearly indicated: Female: must wear short-sleeves shirts skirt to the length to the knees. Long hair must be made into a bun. In this attire code the candidates are m eant to be checked if their figures and appearances could project the glamorous and elegant images flight attendants should have. Besides, being able to carefully follow such attire instruction implicat es the obedient characteri stic. A flight attendant recalled an incident happened in her first interv iew. One of the interviewees in the same round with her wore a three-qu arter-sleeves shirt and let her long hair down. As soon as they entered into the room, a female interviewer (who late r known to be a purser) frown her face and challenged this girls crankiness immediately. She asked, why do you let your hair down? Didn t you know there is an attire request? Didnt we ask you guys to wear short-sleev es? She was irritated by this persons indifferent attitude. She (the candidate) dared not apologize for her mistakes at all. She (the interviewer) said if next time you were able to have another chance to come to our job interview again, remember the difference between short sleeves and three-quarter sleeves!
38 While every female come to the recruitment with the hope to get adm itted and dress themselves as correct as possible, this candidate who chose to express he r characteristic by dressing in the way she like undoubtedly be seen as unqualified. In most cases, on the contrary, candidates usually carefully consider how they should dress and present them selves in the interviews. A flyer fr om a private school soliciting how their services could help students to pass the job interviews demonstrates how a young woman makes effort, with the mindset of working in the airline she aims to join, to shape and change their appearances accordingly: In our Pose and Etiquette cl ass you will learn ho w to stand, sit, walk, couched down to pick up some stuff on the ground gra cefully in the job interview. Before the interview you will be instruct ed by o ur professional beauticians and hairdressers for your individualized make-up and hair style in the interviews. You will learn different techniques for grooming for the interviews with different airline companies. For China Airlines you could wear a purple shirt to reflect thei r uniform color. For Eva air you would better look like a obe dient daughter-in-law. For Cathay Pacific, you should wear makeup to the extent that you look i ndependent and tough. For Singapore Airlines present yourself as a mature, feminine woman. Before becoming flight attendants these young wom en already attempt to carry the company images with their bodies enthus iastically. After they are adm itted to be a member, their qualifications are even more rep eatedly and diligently confirmed. How Do I Look? Women engaging this occupations are expected to project the im ages of elegance and decent when at work. To begin with, we l ook into China Airlines grooming regulations2 which served as a sketch of image airlines anticipates from their flight attendants: Make-up: 1. Foundation: close to y our original skin co lor with no glitters. 2 This is an inside-circulated material listed in flight a ttendants work regulations manual (Revised date: 2004/03/01) which is not open to public review. Even so the groom ing regulations are never confidential information.
39 2. Eye Make-Up: the color of eye shadow, eyelin er, mascara must be conservative N o sparkling glitters. No fake eyelashes 3. Cheek color: should be neutral color. 4. Lipsticks and Nail polish color: appropriate an d conservative color. Nail polish color such as black, green, blue is prohibited Hairstyle: the length of short hair cannot exceed th e end of the collar or it must be m ade into a bun. Hair accessories can only come into black or blue color and cannot be larger than 12 cm in length. Bang cannot be longer than the stance of the eyebrows hair spray must be usedcannot be too curl ycan only be dyed into natural color. N o fashionable hair style and must look elegant. Accessories: 1. Earrings: only single white pearl eardrops are allowed to be worn and m ust be attached to the earlobe. The size of the pear l cannot be larger than 0.8 cm. 2. Rings: at most one could be worn on each hand 3. Bracelets: only come in gold or silver color and less than 0.3 cm in width. 4. Watch: feminine style rather sports, cartoon or leisure style watch. The detailed grooming regulations focus especia lly on th e color of the make-up and the size of the accessories. Keywords such as neutral, c onservative, appropriate, or feminine imply the grooming regulations are turning women into a uniformed look; a look that has no personal characteristics but a look of fe minine fashion. Heavy make-up is required at work but the color and style to be used are not allowed to be fash ionable. The message of this grooming regulation suggests flight attendants should present themselv es to in conservative, elegant and obedient manners which imply a prudent lady, a gentle ho stess or a considerate housewife rather some negative associations oppos ite to these roles. These grooming regulations depersonalized wom en in the occupations as they are not expected to present their persona l style at work but to reprod uce certain projection. Respondents who used to work in EVA Airway also confirme d with similar experiences, as one of them claimed:
40 We could only wear green or orange color of eye shadow at work with red lipstick which m atches the color of EVA. Come on! Not ev eryone looks nice as in traffic lights3 or Christmas trees! In the training, all flight-attendant-to-be begi n to learn to follow the groom ing rules, the standard look at work. (To me: dont you remember?) Red is red, blue is blue (referring to the m ake-up color) Then youre safe for the a ppearance check. Everybody knows. Standard look refers to appl ying heavy m ake-up with heavy a nd conservation colors which are cohesive with the color of uniform. And togeth er it could best emphasize their femininity. What matters is never the make-up techniques or the colo r one prefers to use, but if one is willing to make-up and look feminine, And by performing such make-up process they again prove the commitment to merging into the occupa tional cultures and to become an authentic flight attendant as soon as they remove the la bel as trainee. Ever y new flight attendant gradually realize how this is th e point of the process of put ting up heavy make-up and look the same as others: (Talking about her time as a trainee) I was very clum sy and made a big mistakebut purser said even though he was angry he forgav e me, because at least I wear perfect makeup showing that I do respect my job. And this learning process, I argue, is to enforce th ese trainees to learn how to be feminine, in other words, to do gender to be qualified at work. And their efforts are always examined: Instructors said as a trainee, the best way to wear m ake-up is to follow the rule because you are always observed closel y (I asked: by whom?) Who? Everyone! In ground training school instructors check you. When in the cabin pursers specifically check your performance. And of course other crewmembers check on you too. This argument could be testified by the fact that so-called standard look m ight not still be practiced by a more experienced flight attendant. For a more experienced one, first she might 3 The traffic light in Taiwan comes green, read and yello w. The yellow lights meaning equals to the flashing walking lights in the U.S.
41 already found herself given more space and flexibility in proving her commitment and accountabilities at work; second, she could now be feminine enough to be excused from such self-accounting process, as this quote implies: It is very easy to tell who the new-comers are: by the way they put on make-up. Nevertheless when at work, formal employment as a flight attendant does not excuse wom en from displaying gender and their appearances ar e still under supervision. Yo, aged 28 with 5year working experiences told me a negotiation encountered when she accidentally had a small but a noticeable wound in her left side cheek. Besi des this accident she is in good shape and is ready to work. However putting make-up on her wound is unreasonable. She wonders if she could leave that area uncovered by any cosmetic product. For fear that being reported by purser for not fully make-up she deci ded to drop by the management offi ce to explain the situation in advance: I asked if it is okay to go to work with this situation. She (the m anage r) stared at me coldly without saying a word. I again explained I dont want to ask sick leave because I am fine. All I want to know is if I could put on make-up as usual, eye color, lips, foundation everything but skip this area, would this be okay. If a purser wrote a report of me about this, or even if a passenger wrote a complaint letter to comment on me, things like that, would the management office see I already ex plained in advance a nd acquired approval. She still didnt answer my question directl y, but with comment you know everyone must wear make-up at work. If you dont want to then ask sick leave But I dont want to ask sick leave! I want to sw itch flights next month! 4And I am not saying I am not putting on make-up. I would still put on make up only not this area. I kept telling her my point and she again and again repeated if I want to go to work then complete make-up is needed or Ill be responsible for myself. The other c hoice is sick leave wh ich I dont want to Yo was very upset for their dialogues kept as an endless loop for ten m inutes. She was most upset about her managers attitude: 4 For a flight attendant ask for sick leave she will be depr ived of the right to switch flights with others for two months. As the working schedule is decided by the dispatching center the only opportunity flight attendants could somewhat shape their schedules to their preferences is by switching flights with others.
42 You see, I already had concerns if it (her wound) would leave m e scar later on. And it is not complete recovered yet. If I put on founda tion or powder on it wouldnt it be worse? She is a woman herself how coul d she being so not understanding? If it were she had this on her face would she put on any cosmetic stuff on that? And she asked me to apply for sick leave for r ecovery. It is easy for her to say. S ick leave means I cannot switch my flight sc hedules with others in the ne xt two months and my salary will also be deducted. Why do I have to ask sick leave why I am so energetic and ready to work? Simply because of my perfect appearan ce is? Would I work less hard than others because of this wound? Would I smile less? Would I refuse to serve my passengers water because of part of my face is not covere d by foundation? Would I? Would I? Would you? Would you? Even though this incident had happened quite a wh ile before our conservation, Yo still has anger to the incident which deeply im pressed me. Yos anger comes from her confrontations with her supervisor, who should be able to empathy and understand her concerns as a women herself. Yet she got this frustrating response implying she cannot be qualified to do her job. This reminds me what I witnessed before. A se nior colleague I had worked with had a quite large dark birth m ark on her arm. She was a ve ry cheerful person and very enthusiastic and responsible as a flight attendant. Yet the purser of that flight wa s not happy about her birth mark. He first rudely asked how she survived the in terview without being noticed of it, implying she shouldnt be here: If I were the interviewer I wouldnt let you in. He later even commented if she ever thinks of getting rid of it by laser to lower the possibilities of cancer. And because it was a flight layover abroad, he finally requested her in the returni ng flight the next day to put on foundation to cover it so that it wont scare the passengers. I remember the senior colleague was about to cry but chose to be silent. Womens bodies need to look perfect at work as showing their respect to the occupation. Besides of the regulations to follow, their physical appearances also need to be perfect. If not in perfect appearance discrim inations described as a bove may occur. In my interviews I was very careful in asking my respondents who I think might come across such skin problems for fear that
43 I may hurt their self-respect, or they might be defensive, as if I am also suspiciously challenge their credibility. I seldom lead to conversation flow to skin problem purposely unless we talk about it through the way. Moon was one of my best friends while working in China Airlines. She had pimples problem for quite a while. She wa s interviewed with an ex-flight attendant Chun, who is very close to her and thre e of us had built certain rapport together from our past trip to Hong Kong for leisure. Moon brought the skin problem up herself when we talked about and the atmosphere in the interview and it was more lik e a friendly chatting. Moon told me her countless uncomfortable experiences when interacting with other flight attendants, especially with those who had brilliant beautiful skin. I feel ashamed you know. Especially with those who have wonderful flawless skin. Watching them makes me even wonder how I get myself here. Those are the real flight attendants and I am not. Sometimes when passe ngers watch at me longer than they should Ill begin to be shy and think they must be thinking, how she being a flight attendant with so many pimples on her face? You know Ive b een so sad for a long long time. I have spent a lot of money on skin products to impr ove my skin. (Chun and I tried to persuade her to think the bright side and her skin probl em is getting better, which is true) But it is still not as good as others. Later when Moon was on the phone Chun told me once they flew together, a senior flight attendant mocked Moon to her face: Oh m y god! What did you do with yourself with so many pimples? You should stay at home instead of scaring the passengers in flight! These experiences above illustrate when at work if a wom ans femininity is not flawless she could be questioned by passengers, colleges and (even female) supervisors. In Her Uniform Another important that contribu tes to the flight attendants image is the uniform. Uniform is regarded as the identity of flight attendants and is seen to express the image of the company. A flight attendant in the uniforms walking in th e airports all over the world is the best live advertisement for airlines. Airline companies make use of this as a chance to project their
44 company images. For this part, flight attend ants are aware of how and what the uniform, cheongsam, represents; how it attr acts peoples attention and curi osity, sometimes from flight attendants in other airlines: In Amsterdam airport...two women asked, your uniform is so beautiful! Where are you from? And we proudly answered: we are China Airlines from Taiwan! Once when we were waiting for the aircraft (arriving) in Abu Dhabiand I was shopping in the duty free, a flight attendant w orking for, I dont know, some airline from middle-east I guess approached to ask if she could take pi cture with me because she thinks our uniform is beautiful Like the grooming regulations, the dress of uniform also has certain regulation to be followed. The high-heeled shoes distributed by th e company are not very comfortable to wear. Many flight attendants therefore would rather buy some similar s hoes that better fit themselves. Yet some supervisors do not appreciate this idea for it is then not uniformed. Some passengers even write to report this confusing situation: why that stewarde ss shoes are different from the others? But male flight attendants do not have similar problem because they were given any shoes or socks as part of their uniform. So they c ould be to buy what they want to wear to work according to their preferences. 5Another issue is the pantyhose fli ght attendants wear at work. The brand flight attendants ofte n buy and wear are with high de n, which is designed for women in the occupations that stand ve ry long, such as nurse, surgeo ns, school teachers and of course flight attendants. When I began my first interview there happened to be a new regulation just announced: the color of the pantyho se should not be light skin-col or alike and instead of dark skin color. One of my res pondents expressed her opinions: 5 I didnt ask male flight attendants opinions on it but I understand not all male flight attendants appreciate that either. For they have to pay by themselves. In the meanti me some of them in my memory are happy about choosing it. I remember a male colleague told me he spent around US 200 dollars for his shoes and commented on he knows its unfair but at least he could wear something nice.
45 It is non-sense. Okay, if they are not happy about our pantyhose then give us the one w e should wear. We pay by our own money then why we cannot buy what we want to wear? Why they need to care such trivial thing? It is one of the proofs how womens bodies ar e monitored and disciplined at work by their uniform ed appearance. Cheongsam, the style of their uniform, was made to fit someones body perfectly. Flight attendants figures were measured to made their own cheongsam at the beginning of the career, and are expected to wear the same size in the following years because there will be no re-measurement every year when new uniforms are given6. That is to say even thought there is no written rule to ask flight attendants to keep an eye on not gaining weight, there is silent monitor on womans body everyda y in life through this made-to-fit uniform mechanism. A flight attendant shares her experience which repr esents the problem many flight attendants also face: When I raise my hands up to close the overhead bin my dress will also goes up. Normally, when I put d own my hands my dress will return to its original status. Yet if I gain any weight, when I raise my hands and put them down, my dress will not come down but will be stuck itself to my thighs area! No one te lls to lose weight, but your will know because your uniform tells you! Many other respondents have also shared sim ilar experiences of the confinement in wearing uniform. The cheongsam has two splits on both sides, so if a woman in the uniform not acting carefully, it is eas y to expose her body (upper thighs) to the extent of em barrassing herself. This was one of the reason I myself would rather step on a passengers seat to close the overhead bin and of course I was not the only one who wo uld do so. While running or walking too fast is not allowed except emergency; it is not easy in the first place to run with tight uniform. 6 Unless one requests to do so and for most of the time it on ly happens after the maternal leave. For others who dont have the understandable reasons and want to resize their uniform, they often need to go through a long troublesome process to do so, and they have to tolerate the inconvenience long waiting period before the uniforms sent back to them. Therefore many flight attendants would not to experience so many annoyances simply for some tiny changes in their uniforms.
46 Besides not running in the cabin, other aspects of wom ens beha viors when in the uniforms are supervised as well. Trainees are told to prac tice how to grin with th e exact seven teeth being revealed, which is seen to be most sincere and la dylike, in front of the mirrors again and again. Another flight attendant told me her friend in Si ngapore Airlines was taught what kind of bras they should wear to make sure their breasts are in fuller figure. Another flight attendant who used to work in Eva Air explained how the unifo rm implies the flight attendants status in hierarchy. Flight attendants uniform in Eva Air is in suit style. And ther e are different patterns on the sleeves according to their seniority. That is to say, ones position could be simply identified by their uniform at a glance. For more senior crew they tend to make their hair fuller and the bun in a higher position on the back head to create a certain noble look to match their uniform, which differentiate themselves from the juniors. There is no sp oken rule, she said, but you just knew there are ce rtain hairstyles and certain make-up you wouldnt do unless you are the senior crew. Whats beyond an outsiders imagination on the un if orm is all the silent constraints and the implicate control over womens bodies. Disciplined Bodies; Disciplined Behaviors Flight attendants appearances have been stric tly supervised and m on itored in many different ways. Their physical features, appearance and fi gures are always monitored by the company, the passengers and even by themselves. Responding to Foucaults arguments, for these women, their bodies have been manipulated with different techniques and being disciplined all the time in the workplace. Female flight attendants bodies have been unders tood for the use of the airline com panies they work for. As projected in many ai rlines advertisement, the glorious flight attendants treat the passengers with the utmost hospitality. Female bodies become the objects carrying imaginations
47 the company wants to associate the potential cu stomers with: a beautiful sweetheart, a caring mother and an elegant hostess, which altogether implicate the expectations on their gender roles. In the next chapter I will further discuss the arguments on the disciplin ed behaviors in the discipline workplace: their emotions.
48 CHAPTER 4 IN THE SKY AND ON THE GROUND: AM I QUALIFIED? She is such an elegant flight attendant. When she answered my request, she said I will be right back with you instead of Just a moment please. Quoted from a passengers praising letter to the company, posted on the announcement bulle tin for flight attendants reference Emotional labor refers to how the service provi ders, such as flight attendants, produce the pleasan t atmospheres in their in teractions between the service receivers, in this case the passengers on broad, to create comfortable surrou ndings of hospitality. Flight attendants manage and disguise their internal fee lings to display the behaviors co nsistent with the occupational requirements. In the chapter the conceptualiza tions of emotional labo r managed by Taiwanese flight attendants toward their patrons are examined. In addition, findings also suggest that such labor is not only practiced in th e cabin, but in all work-related c ontexts, even before they have admitted to the position. A flight attendant who fa ils to perform emotional labor to her patrons, co-workers, and supervisors in the context will find her qualification and credibility in this occupation is challenged. Long for Wings People who long for engaging in the occupation as flight attendants see it is as comm on sense to present oneself as an easy-going, kind and cheerfu l person in the job interviews. As discussed earlier there are always thousands of candidates competing for limited openings, everyone strives to impress the recruiters in their contacts within few minutes in order to persuade them she or he could do this job well. While physical features as well as appearances are also important characteristics to make some candidates attract more attention in the first impression, airline recruitment managers always claim the company is looking for people with good personality apt
49 to the service industry. In other words, peopl e who could perform emotional labor well enough to provide the patrons a pleasant experience of flying. Therefore th is is every interviewees goal in the job interview. Many of the respondents talk about their interview ex periences as with the keyword smile, which is known to be one of display requirements of service workers. Also many of the respondents mentioned they would susp ect the possible questions being asked in the interviews and practice the answers they would respond. When I practiced before the interview I first put myself in the recrui ters shoes: what kind of person they are looking for (For instance if being aske d what part-time job I had before) I used to be an English tutor for little childrenwith patience and love Ever since I decided to pursue my dream to be a flight attendant, I often ask m yself whatever incidents I come across if I were a flight attendant now, what would I do? I would like to change myself into a gentle person; behave elegantly and being caring to people surround me. As this becomes part of my characteristic I could present myself in this way in the job interview. This technique might be universal for any job in te rview preparation; the difference is to what degree the correctness the answers could achieve d depend on how it could project their persona, implicating they are able to do the emotional labor well. Also even though at this stage they might not see such labor has to be produced w ith proper management of emotion and sometimes involve oppressing the true feelings example here shows they are r ecognizing this as part of the occupational requirements and predict they will be expected to demonstrate such ability in the interview. In the interview with the male ground supervis or talking about how the perform ances of the candidates in the interviews are evaluated, it is confirmed that the candidates ability in managing their feelings in such a st ressful occasion is seen as an i ndex to their potential to fulfill the emotional regulations. Also, the ability to project the persona that meet up with the occupational requirements is thought highly of.
50 I always look for the smiling lady among them (the interviewees) and try to ask her more questions. T he answers dont matter and actually I dont quite care what kind of person she is. As long as she shows a gentle but enthusiastic attitude to me; makes meas a stranger to herfeel comfortable in this 30 se conds contact, then I see potential. His word reminds me of my own ve ry first interview at the age of 22. The girl next to m e was so nervous that her body was trembling. I was nervous, of course, as well. My strategy to deal with it was to tell myself, focus.convert your energy for nervousness into smile. So the more nervous I am, the bigger smile would show on my face. This personal expe rience led me to ask him about his opinions on the can didates fright in the intervie ws. What if they cannot calm down, such as trembling in answering your question? Well, even I see her hands or legs are nervously shaking (laugh) She is so afraid of m e and the whole situation but she could s till answer my question well under such circumstances, I still think she ha s potentiality to become a good flight attendant. His words clearly explained the real personality of flight attenda nts is not the point. As long as one could control her personal inner feelings to certain extent and still get the job done like in this c ase answering the question properly this person has proved herself/ himself to meet the qualification of the occupationa l requirements. On the contrary, a candidate who cannot persuade the recruiter to believe in the emotiona l presentation she/he could achieve result failure in the interview, even though the true persona of this person could be kind, caring and always willing to help. This contrast to the general understanding, as well as the claims from the airlines, that they are looking for people who sincerely care for the passengers to be their flight attendants. Undoubtedly people with sweet a personality are always valued in the service industries, yet in terms of recruitment, it is more practical to sort out those who could convince their audiences they are equipped with such characteristics, judging by the emotional labor they do in the interviews.
51 In the Cabin Nevertheless successfully being admitted to th e position of flight attendant is the starting point of the learning journey in terms of perfor ming emotional labor. In the competitive Asian market airline companies strive to secure th eir existing customers and attract new ones, the quality of in-flight services is one of the main emphases of the airlines that compare and compete with their other opponents. Flight attendants play important role in providing services, and consequently are strictly trained to fulfill such responsibilities. In addition to the company images flight attendants are repres enting with their bodies in the uni forms, they are anticipated to carry the responsibility of bettering the passenge rs flying experiences th rough the interactions they have with them. It is often acknowledged, whether by passengers or by flight attendants, that it is Asian hospitality whic h distinguishes them from west ern airline companies. In my participant observations in the flight from Lo s Angeles to Taipei, a Taiwanese woman sat a few rows in front of me, approximately in her early fifties, who looked tired and frustrated when she boarded. After she settled all her luggage in th e overhead bin and got her request of a cup of water with immediate response from the flight attendant, a smile with relief was on her face when she began to comment, Our Taiwanese airlines are always the best Ch ina Airlines is the best! miserable experiences from my previous domestic flight of N airlines (an American airline company) and American flight attendant s are always so rude; with no smile and never answer the service button.our Taiwanese ladies (flight atte ndants) are so sweet and always give the good service! Im so happy Im going home! Welcome home! The flight attendant greeted he r again with a brilliant smile. In this conversation the passenge r adm ired the services provided by Asian (Taiwanese) flight attendants from an Asian (Taiwanese) airline comp any in contrast to her miserable experiences in a non-Asian cabin. And in the end, one of so -called sweet Taiwanes e ladies welcomed her abroad by implying that by being in this cabi n, she is already at home now and could enjoy
52 hospitality from home maid. In this interaction with a passenger the flight attendant successfully instilled the symbolic meaning into her emotional labor as the hospitality at home in Asia. On the other hand, from the insiders point of view, this is not strange to me at all; in fact I had numerous similar dialogues with the passengers I came across when I was at work. And acting the same as the flight attendant at this wo mans service, I would also welcome passengers arrival at home with a seemingly sincere smile. It is because how to respond to the comment like Im happy Im about to go home is one of ba sic service technique every flight attendant learned from observing their colleagues, if not taught during the trai ning by the instructor. Emotional labor is taught to be done th rough certain uniformed service dialogues. This also introduces anothe r finding about how flight a ttendants interact with the passengers or control their em otions. Service t echniques are taught during the training period, yet when most flight attendants found they gradually learn how to do the emotional labor at work, not only from the on-job practice with passengers but also, which is most beneficial, from observing senior colleagues talk and behaviors. In the working cultures among flight attendants of China Airlines1, colleagues address one another as si sters and brothers. Juniors flight attendants called the female seni ors Jie-Jie (big sister in manda rin) while the other way around is Mei-Mei (meaning little sister in mandarin). Males are often called big brother regardless of their seniority and occasionally young brother, when seniority must be emphasized. This hierarchic workplace structure not only institutionalized th e respectful and obedient culture between the junior and senior co lleague but also suggests the wo rking experiences and background knowledge should be passed down between different generations. In this sense how to display the emotion appropriately and effectively to resp ond to the passengers is definitely one of the 1 In other airlines companies similar hi erarchy exists even thought the way of addressing could be different, such as junior sis(ter) and senior sis(ter).
53 most important lessons to be learned at work. A young flight attendant told me her experience as a trainee three years ago. The male passenger was upset for not getting the meal choice he wants. Even though she provided other possible soluti ons to her best knowledge acquired from the training, this mad middle-aged ma n scolded her as a dog. Without any clue of what to do, she began to cry. At this moment my galley Jie-Jie (the flight attendant in charge of galley for preparing food) showed up from my back, whispered in to my ear, you go now, Ill take care of him. I watched in tears and let her overp ass me to approach the passengerJie-Jie crouched next to this crazy beast, looked at him with her beautiful eyes (she has long eyelash by the way) and a sincere smile on her f ace. Sir, I am very very sorry that we dont have any more chicken rice I sincerely apologize. Its entirely our fault that we cannot make you satisfied. Would you please do me this favor to try our fish noodle today? It is very delicious as well. The man was still reluctant to yield. His friends next to him now spoke up to help Jie-Jie to persuade him, come on, you see the beautiful miss are begging you now! Jie-Jie continued, Please, do me this favorPlease, be my hero! Finally the passenger was willing to do this favor f or the sake of begging from the beautiful miss. Later when this respondent expressed her a ppreciation to the senior crew and realized her Jie-Jie in fact also felt annoye d by the scene this man made while in front of passenger she acted so humble and pitiful. I was also pitiful because my eyes were red. Yet her red eyes could not make her achieve the goal in persuading the passenger to change his mind. This inspiring experience to this junior flight attendant was a new way of cont rolling her emotions at work which she never perceived. After seeing how it could be effective she also perform this new skill in similar cases toward similar types of passengers. On the other hand, this is one of the examples of how fe male flight attendants doing gender at work, in combination with doing emotional labor. This senior flight attendant demonstrated her feminine characteristics in front of her targeted male passengers both in her behaviors (crouched down; looked at him with her beautiful eyes; smile) and in her languages (I sincerely
54 apologize; its entirely our fault; please do me this favor; Please, be my hero!) to stimulate the sympathy from the men (you see the beautiful miss are begging you now!) and to imply they are in the powerful control as a he ro even though her inte rnal feelings did not admire such role at all. Happily Ever After? The last aspect of the emotional state fe m ale flight attendants produce discusses the expected receivers of the state. In other words, who are the persons flig ht attendants would like to produce such emotional impact on? In addition to the previous discussions on the recruiters of airlines companies who make decisions on their admittances and the in-flight passengers they provide services for, this resear ch suggests emotional labor is ne eded to be done to everyone in the work-related context, including other flight attendants, supervisors, or any personnel they come across inside or beyond the cabin. The conceptualization of emotion labor was based on the interacti ons between flight attendants and passengers. In term s of the flight attendants workplace cultures in this Asian context, it is recognized that em otional labor is also displaye d among colleagues, and people who fail to successfully perform so will be questioned about their qualifications as flight attendants. One of the reasons is because of the hierarchy in the workplace, the rela tionships between juniors and seniors could be decisive factor to the harmonious working atmosphere or the stressful surroundings. Since this power relationship is acknowledged as fundamental basis of work ethics, people who fail to merge in this structur e will be literally isolated, and challenged their justification in the organization. Emotional labor produced between the colleagues m ainly reflect s the respectful and obedient relations between junior s and seniors. Such culture is especially difficult for new comers who just start to assimilate themselves. Be ing at the bottom of the seniority, they are told
55 to be submissive to other senior crewmembers since the first day of training. As soon as they are formally introduced into the workplace and wo rking with the existing crewmember, these newcomers gradually learn, as the junior it is essential to modify their attitudes and behaviors to project their modesty toward the se niors, whether it is true or not. One of the respondents talked about her personality before she joined China Airlines as proud, tough and stubborn. When she just began to work, she would talk back to the seniors or argue for her mistakes she made. This problematic attitude made ma ny of the senior colleagues uncomfortable and resulted in some written reports on her attitude from the pursers which made her experience some frustrated situations, such as being implied she could be fired. Mangers in the office say if I cannot get al ong with others well indicating I dont have people skills, in other words I should not be here as a flight attendants. She then learned several strategies of surviva l after perceiving the situation, If you dont develop good relations hip with Jie-Jie who works with you in the sam e zone, she can make your flight miserable. And othe r Jie-Jie in the economy class will also begin to give you a hard time because they thi nk you dont respect them, so now they should teach you how to behave. So I tried to initiate some friendly chats with Jie-Jie. I do all dirty j obs, such as answ ering passengers service button and clean all restrooms so that Jie-Ji e thinks I am tame. I try to develop rapport whether in f act I like this person or not. Several other flight attendants talked about thei r perceptions of the interactions with senior colleagues, as well as th e efforts in creating a pleasant emotional state, which refers to the receptiveness and the compliance as a junior crew. Sometimes I feel dealing relationships with Jie-Jie could be more difficult than dealing with passen gers. If you are provide the passe ngers with what they want they will be satisfied and thankful. But some Jie-Jie are ha rd to please, or dis like you for reasons only she knows. After the purser assigned the duty I will find the Jie-Jie Ill work with and introduce myself. I would say I am green so if I made any mistake or if there is anything I dont understand please be kind enough to forgive me a nd tell me what to do. Most of the time it
56 turned to be Jie-Jie would be kind to me, since I have put myself out there in the beginning. This statement shows I am always open to her instructions. I may begin to have some friendly talk with Jie-Jie by com plimenting her hairstyle, her make-up, her watch, her nail polish color. If Jie-Jie is willing to talk more or seems to be nice I then ask how she did it or where she bought that to build up some rapportif we could become friends working together is much easier. On the other hand, regardless of ones seniority in rank, every flight attendant continues to project them selves in proper manners when intera cting with the supervisors, who could directly challenge their credibility as a qualified flight attendant. As the supervisor declared in the interview on how he makes judgments whenever a complaint letter arrives and he needs to justify if there was indeed an attitude pr oblem of this flight attendant or simply misunderstandings, I would call this person into my office and as k question and explanati on about the situation in tha t flight. I carefully examine this person s attitude to me. If sh e or he keeps blaming someone else for the faults instead of reflecti ng if herself or himself has made any mistakes firstit must be problematic of his attitude in confronting the passengers. If this flight attendant doesnt care if sh e or he would offend m e in any sense in our dialogues, then there is no doubt that this pe rson will do the same thing to the passengers. In these words we could see what expectation the supervisors have in term s of qualified flight attendants behaviors. Therefor e, to prevent ones credibility being questioned, even denied, flight attendants would also need to manage their emotions in reacting to all personnel in their work-related places. Gendered Emotional Labor In this chapter we have witnessed many in stances of how Taiwan ese fligh t attendants manage their hearts at work, responding to Arli e Hochschilds research on American flight attendants. What has moved beyond her original di scussions is the contex t in which Taiwanese
57 flight attendants need to perf orm such labor; and th e receivers are not lim ited to the passengers any longer. If they fail to do so, which was not discussed by Hochschild, they face the stern challenges to their accountabilities at work. On the other hand, these instances also show how fe male flight attendants emphasize their feminity in the ways they manage and express their emotions. By displaying certain behaviors, language use, attitudes and beliefs, the emotional labor they finally produ ced is overlapping with the behaviors as doing gender. In other words, it is the gendered emotional labor they are producing to prevent themselves from being seen as an unqualified flight attendant. In Chapter 3 we have seen how womens bodies are monitored and supervised in the workplace. In this chapter we developed another dimension on how flight attendants are also supervised emotionally which confine their behaviors. Women have been disciplined in this occupation to project the impression. I then following this logic to discuss the direction this process heads for.
58 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSIONS: INTERNALIZED MODEL ASIAN FEMININITY AND THE LIMITATION OF THE STUDIES Because everyone in this forum know I am a flight attendant I do not wan t to write anything that is notI dont know how to explain, not like a f light attendant I guess. If anyone leaves a message to attack me or wa nts to pick up a fight with me, I tend to respond politely and avoid indirectly. I know I don t have to do so but I feel I have to. excerpted from a diary-style article I wrote and posted on-line in 1999 after dealing with some unpleasant messages on the internet. Jie-Jie, from what youve been writing I see you must be a very gentle and pretty person in real lifeI hope I will be like you som eday.... quoted from a message on my blog in 2007, from a young girl who longs for becoming a fligh t attendant in the future1 Women engaged in the occupation as flight a ttendant are often regarded to share certain characteristics. They are expected to have beau tiful appearances, eleg ant behaviors and cheerful characteristics. As discussed in earlier chapte rs, some of the commonne ss has been constructed as the occupational requirements, and flight at tendants display their physical and emotional capability in doing gender, which justify thei r credibility and qualification at work. Internalized Characteristics Many of my respondents note that they have observed their change s after beginning the work. One quoted herself to be m ore and more fe minine in these yearsI guess it is because of work. In such a female-dominated occupation a woman could always perceive a feminine model to imitate and be recognized, a model who could perform her job by exercising and emphasize her femininity as well as the long-eye-lashed Jie-Jie who turned a difficult passenger into her hero as men tioned earlier in Chapter 4. By being disciplined in all work1 This reader has been contacted and agreed her message to be quoted in this paper.
59 related contexts, women engaged in this occupati on could gradually become used to certain type of behaviors, characteristics, language usages, just to name a few. And such constant, diligent requirements of displaying fem ininity through their disciplined bodies and doing gendered emotional labor at work are finally internalized as part of flight attendants nature. Ma ny flight attendants talked about their experiences of personality changes as becoming softer and tender after working for a while. What they are used to perform at work could be brought into the personal lives, even though such expectations may not be projected on them after they put aside thei r uniforms and become a common woman. This could also explain why many flight attendants would find it is easier for them to find a position in other service industries if they decide to transfer to another career path. While one of the contributing factors is other serv ice industries prefer candidates who already have some related working experiences and job as a flight attendant is more than qualified, th e other is because they have been used to embody these characteristics in their interpersonal intera ctions and to present themselves in such ways. As quoted from a ex-f light attendants word, as a current nurse in a private clinic she obviously stand(s) out among my (her) colleagues who were never trained as we werecan never imagine I (she) would answ er phone in such a r ude way and not being ashamed for my(her) uncivilized be haviors. If all these character istics are only the results of training or some temporary eff ects from faking projection they probably would stand out in the first place, and one would not see herself w ould be ashamed for uncivilized behaviors. Thanks to the imposed by the overwhelming di scipline process, this following dialogue2 between an off-duty flight attendant with the service personnel at a full-service gas station illustrates how such internalization work in these trained womens daily lives: 2 This is an anecdote from one respondent. For readers eas ier understanding the original narrating form was revised into this dialoguing form presented here with the respondents confirmation on correctness.
60 Flight Attendant (F): Sir, ni-hao! (greeting) May I bother y ou to fuel up my car? Thank you. Service personnel at the gas station (S): Sure. Which kind (of gas)? F: 98 (super) please. Full please Thank you. S: .okay. F: Thank you ugh, Im sorry sir, do you have change if I give you 1000 NT dollar? S: Yes I have. F: Thank you. Thank you very much. S: Here is your change... F: Thank you very much. S: and your receipt. F: Thank you very much. (Then the flight attendant star ted the engine and was ready to go. At this moment the attendant tried to say something to her) S: MissI really want to tell you this...you are really kind. You are toooooo welcome. You said so many times of Thank you! If you k eep saying that I dont know how to respond anymore! F: Oh, really? I didnt know that Thank you! In this dialogue there were 11 service and gree ting word usages (thank you, please, Im sorry and ni-hao as hello) and 9 of them were t hank you. This ultimately polite conversation interestingly has showed how fli ght attendants have been used to create certain impression; and finally how they would carry it with them no ma tter where they go and whom they are talking to. Model Asian Femininity Airline companies in Asia countries are so enthusiastic in projecting certain im age advertising their flight attendant s to present the Asian hospitalit y. From the point of view in tourism promotion, it is not surprising they would do so to stimulate the consumption. And as I articulate in Chapter 1, the emphasis of this pape r is not to dispute how political correctness of such phenomenon is, but to understand in such fact ual circumstance what implication it brings to the context. Having said that, rega rdless of the targeted audience of Asian airlines enterprises, I would like to discuss what kind of feminity is promoted and encouraged in terms of sensemaking.
61 First of all, the recruitment, the training as well and laboring all direct the wom en engaged in this occupation to certain feminine model: obedient, submissive, graceful, ladylike, tender, and of course flawlessly beautiful. Young females w ho want to become a flight attendant project such imagination on the flight at tendants and endeavor to change themselves into the same category. The reader of my writing who was still an undergraduate, as she dreamed to become a flight attendant herself, she addresses me Jie-Jie as what a junior flight attendant would address her senior. Her praise of my appearance is obviously based on her own imagination since my personal photo is not released on my blog and th ere is no way she could get a sense how I look like. If my writing touches her hear t in any sense, or if I might reveal myself as a gentle person as the internalization process might have made me to do so subconsciously, her assumption on my real personality is blurred by her imaginatio n on this occupation. This reader, however, is not a unique example. It is very common to see in the related on-line forum the candidates talk about the flight attendants they come acr oss are so beautiful, graceful and hope they will become to be like them very soon. A flight attendant talked about her pers onal motivation on competing for this occupation was: I saw them (some flight attendants from Singa pore Airlines ) at the airport and they are extremely beautiful and feminine. They are ma ture women so I wonder, why couldnt I be one of them? 3 In making themselves into a qualified flight attendant, the young wom en therefore project make efforts to better themselves to be the qualified women : women who have these entire characteristic so they could become flight atte ndants. This is an on-goi ng process if they truly become one. A newly-joined trainee or an inexperi enced flight attendant c ontinues her efforts to 3 This quotation is by no means to imply all flight atte ndants were motivated to engage in this occupation with similar motivation but to present an example of the imagination from a young woman on the qualified flight attendants. From my data I have observed diverse reasons of engaging this occupation, such as financial, personal interests, significant others abroad, by chance, etc. Since this is not my focus and not related to my thesis I did not discuss the reasons in the paper with acknowledgement of this observation.
62 do gender and emotional labor in all work-related contexts to ensure their accountability in fitting into such model feminity; and disciplined monitored and supervised by the authorities, the public, and, ironically, themselves to one another. And if we return to the initi al discussion on what Asian air lines project for their com pany images, we see these Asian women demonstrate the traditional female gender role in service as good housewives, good mothers, good care-givers. By promoting their business, in the mean time, airline companies simultaneously project th e ideal of Asian women model, the ideal Asian feminity. The promotion of feminity and the promotion of Asian womens role at work intertwine and inters ect in this specif ic popular occupation. The Limitation of Representation As above I have argued how Asian airlines companies promote the ideal Asian feminity for wom en to emulate as their model based on the findings of this research project. Before I conclude I would like to point out the limitation of this research. Fi rst of all, as I have indicated in chapter 1, this thesis is based on the experien ces of women flight attendants in China Airlines. Even though the reason for it was justified, for further research expanding the diversity of the participants, including their gender, age, and co mpany affiliations, should be planned. I did try to spread this news by word of mouth, yet I find it is especially difficult to approach flight attendants in Eva Air. According to the info rmation sources from my contacts, the company culture seems to be more conservative4 and flight attendants ther efore are more concerned in addressing their opinions.5 Also, the working schedules of thei r flight attendants are even more 4 In the recruitment ne of the exam question is are you favor the idea of organizing labor union of flight attendants? Since there is no labor union for flight a ttendants in Eva Air, people who answer no will not be considered employment. Also in 2002, Eva Air laid off one hundred flight attendants without advanced notice and detailed explanation. Some of them were even awarded for best cabin attendant before. 5 Eva Air closely monitors the employees activities in on-line forums and even their personal websites. If a flight attendant says something negative about her job or the co mpany, she might face serious punishments. An Eva Airs
63 hectic so their personal time is more compressed especially in the high season for traveling. Last, since I am not an insider in Eva Air, of course conducting participation ob servation in their crew center is impossible. On the other hand, even though there is a gene ral recognition of how Asia n airlines focus on the service provided by their Asian flight attendants, by proposing my argument above, I acknowledge it does not re present the overall Asia n flight attendants experiences. Women working with different companies undoubtedly face different orga nizational cultures, expectations, negotiation, diffi culties and stress; therefore my arguments are suggested to provide the general basis for the continual discussions and examinations. Also, womens experiences in a female-dominated occupation in an East Asia society cannot represent other womens experiences in the Sout h Asia, Southeastern Asia, or West Asia. Even the cultural heritage of Taiwan results from Chinese tradi tions; I do not see Taiwanese womens experiences represent women in Mainland China, which has different societal, economic, political background. In all, Asian womens experiences should not be generali zed into one category without further exploration. flight attendant was forced to close her popular personal blog for her inappropriate opinions in the public and damage the company image. Lately Ch ina Airlines also begin to watch closely on their employees personal remarks outside the workplace.
64 CHAPTER 6 REFLEXITIVITY: LOVE, STRUGGLE, AND FLY Who cares about us? NO ONE! They think this waitressing job is easy and why these girls are s till complaining? A colleagues comment after l earning m y plan of research. Excerpted from my fieldnotes on my visit to crew center in December 2005 Insider out When I conduct interviews all my respondents or previous acquaintances from work are aware of I am studying for my master degree in the U.S. and this is my research on story of us. In the sense many of them expre ss their support to this idea, a nd give me a lot of suggestions, feedback and comments. Some will forward people I think you should also talk to because she is representative or as mentioned earlier, would begin to articulate stories after stories, or come back to me for a second conversation. One flight attendant who is also in terested in pursuing her master degree some day in the future even sugg ested me several topics I might want to look into. While I cannot express my appreciation to th em in my limited words, the meaning of this generous help is significant itself: they should help their passengers anytime at work; undoubtedly helping their colleague is regarded their responsibilit ies, as we always cover one another at work. Especially when they find out I am planning to write about our stories, the stories of people nobody cares about. They know since I used to be one of them, I should be able to understand them and present our voices fair ly. Last, it is important to acknowledge that flight attendants are aware of the misunderstandings from the ge neral public and their voices are underrepresented, and no one cares about us be cause in our luxurious dreamlike job there should be no problem. As one of my colleague s commented, Helping you (to do your research) is as if helping ourselves.
65 Even though my identity is a researcher ra ther than a colleagu e, almost all of my respondents, if they are junior than me, still cannot help them selves call me Jie-Jie in our dialogues. And I myself found it qui te uncomfortable and also inappropriate not to call some senior crewmembers Jie-Jie and feel if I dont, the tacit rappo rt between colleagues cannot be built. If I approach them with my identity as a graduate student, an outsider, the research I present here could be quite differe nt. It also could be observed in the quotes in this thesis, many of them take it for granted th at I understand them since we sh are background knowledge, in the dialogues these words a ppear all the time, You know that Werent you also Would/Wouldnt you do? These words also imply we are on the same boat. Like one respondent complained her boyfriend wouldnt understand our occupation when they just began dating, a description like And its (the tiredness) like if you fl y CI-066 followed by CI-110 right after, non-stopped which an outsider boyfriend cannot always pe rceive the extent, while I, w ho had sam e experiences before, see the point she wants to make without any furthe r explanation. This is my privilege in the field for first I dont need to spend tons of time and energy to develop the rapport to be included into the community for the purpose of doing research, and second they truly see myself is a member. When I wrote up my thesis proposal I once rais ed a question to m yself if I have no other important theme that will influence the whole so ciety to address so I could go to a project I want to devote myself to, which might be beneficial to limited people. As I have began this research for three years, from time to time I come across questions and comments on my topics, such as, I am curious why the author chose this elite group to studyit is an interesting topic but I dont see their experience s representative and bene ficial to the public.
66 -A comment I had from a reviewer of my submitted abstract for the conferen ce I think your research intere sts in foreign brides in Taiwan should be m ore developedbecause there are growing numb ers and you could benefit more people. -From a social conversation I had with a Taiwanese B&B host in Princeton As a researcher I devote myself to the topic I care about and I am concerned. These comments somewhat reflect, however, who my research could beneficial is in questio n. As I argue there is significance in looking into Taiwanes e flight attendants to examin e gender at work, another point I would like to emphasize is, it is dangerous a nd questionable to make judgments based on the assumption based on our limited understandings on a certain group of people, whether we are academic professionals or so-called the general public. Even if my research could only be beneficial to lim ited group, I would still continue without hesitation. How important a research is should not be judged from how visi ble these people are, especially in the larger sense we have already saw the connection between the invisibility and the broader scholarship. Therefore here comes my ch allenge: the emotional part of the insider researcher to her field. It did not occur to me when I was doi ng interviews or participation observations in the field to the ex tent which I have experienced sin ce I came back to the U.S. and began my writing. The more I write, the more I f eel obligated to this project. I am not the first one who used to be a flight attendant and then resigned for obtaining an academic degree and of course I am not the first one who researches on flight attendants. Nevertheless, so far, to the date this thesis is written, it seems to be I am the first who aims to present fl ight attendants stories from the qualitative approach and from a blessed insider position. It will be arrogant to assume I am the only one who could do this research from such viewpoint, yet I cannot but think if I give up who else would carry it on from the same stance?
67 Voices on the Internet Since 1998 I began to post articles I wrote in sev eral on-line forum, simply with good will to share my first-hand experiences in the job interviews of China Airlines. At that time information and discussions on the job interviews for flight attendants were not easy to access unless paying the private training school for their services. My articles raised some enthusiastic feedback and then I continued sharing my lives at work. In 1999 with some friends help I initiated the first non-profit on-line forum on fli ght attendants. Before this website built-up, many others were limited for business purposes, or limit its users to those who are already flight crew. I retired from this website, named Flying Meow-Meow Crew Network, two years later for personal reasons, and pleasantly to see it keeps pr ospering especially the net generations have achieved the age of participating in the flight attendants recruitments. Today Flying MeowMeow Crew Network still remains its non-profit characteri stics and has accumulate more than millions visitors. I continued posting my writings on my life as a f light attendant in the following years in some on-line forum and somewhat build up a re putation, even though my reader may not know me in real life. What I did not predict was one day I would be doing what I am doing now: being a graduate student and aim to speak up for wo mens voices. And reading the articles I had written, my own voice in the past inspires and informs myself in doing this research. When I first presented this research6 I was asked a question on if I was aw are of my body being sexualized. I did not quite sure about my an swer: I thought I had. And later as rethinking this question and reading my own notes from the past, I then realiz ed I might not be aware of that is technically sexualized myself even though I might be doing it. I read and memories co me back to me: how I 6 October 21 2006. Love, Struggle, and Fly--The Constructed Femininity of Taiwanese Female Flight Attendants. Paper presented at Conference of the Social Sc iences 2nd Annual Meeting, Gainesville, FL.
68 first reapplied my lipstick before I left the galley, then crou ched next to a male passenger pleading him to forgive my Mei-Mei (the junior crew member working with me) who irritated him. Even though I did not ask him to be my hero, the intonation and the word I used was purposely feminine. I probably gently put my hands on his arm when I asked for his forgiveness as well. Self-reflections on my past voices like this example had helped me re-examine if my arguments could make sense to myself, and supposedly they could make sense to other female flight attendants as well. Yet as I had explained earlier in chapte r 1, the direction of this sensemaking process is one-way; from experiences othe r women share toward my own reflections and then conclusions, not on reverse. Another challenge I face is th e forgetfulness every hum an being would come across. I have left the occupational context and merged into an other, which requires me to think academically, work scholarly, and not to speak in my mother tongue. That is to say things I had been so familiar with might gradually leave my life. And as I just articulated I have seen my selftestimony and my stance is so important to me. My strategy, therefore, is to intentionally write my memoir in Mandarin on-line and I choose to blog. By keeping up my writing on the past I could head for the future. The reason why I choose to keep a log on-line and open to the public is, first, this is what I have been d oing and have accumulated some read ers. Sometimes from the interactions with others I see the blind spot I igno re because I had assumed that is part of me based on my current identity, like I thought I was aware of being sexualized. Second, by observing how others respond, it could give me an idea of what people might think of this occupation and my research.
69 I once tried to recruit some potential respondents on my blog therefore I briefly describe what I plan to ask and what my study is about. An anonymous reader left this comment7 : I think you should do comparisons between Am e rican flight attendants and Taiwanese flight attendants or your study is not meaningf ul and you lose the pr ivilege you study in the U.S. I gently responded with thankful ness and said I w ould consider about it. Yet in fact I felt frustrated and somewhat being offended by this comment, even though this person might leave this message out of some good will. It did occurs to me that the inter-cultural comparisons could be done at certain point, but how do I construct comparisons if there has been not much literature on Taiwanese flight attendants and none on these womens voices? And why an Asian case could not be meaningful unless a parallel is made with a western one? Last, studying in the U.S. does give some me academic privileges, if that is the way we should call it, which I appreciate; it may on the other hand defect my other qualities, such as explaining my research to others in the language they could understand. This is what relates to my third reason fo r writing about my past, to the public and in Mandarin. This trains me to be familiar with the word usage I used in past occupational context. Also a meaningful research, to my understanding, is to be able to benefit the communities I study. And explaining what a researcher does in a non-academic language is not always easy. As mentioned earlier, I had tr ied to recruit som e potential respondents on-line by making announcement in personal blog. Writing on my past and posted it on-line al so helps build up my credibility as an insider. In the end, two of my respondents responded my invitation. Because both of them see themselves have known me for a long time through the internet connection, 8I 7 Since this person did not leave any contact information I could not make contact before I quote this message. 8 And after we met one was actually a colleague we had built great rapport for working together many times.
70 still regard these two respondents recruited throu gh my personal contacts instead of via internet announcement. In many ways my own voices on th e internet play a supporting role in my research. Love, Struggle, and Fly Like many of my colleagues, I love and enj oy m y occupational life, even though we have so many physical and emotional challenges to face as well as power relations to negotiate at work. For me, and maybe for many ot hers, this is more than an o ccupation but a lifestyle; a life style full of joy in relating with other human beings in this world, a lifestyle for travel-lovers, a life-style allows oneself to be i ndependent, and most important of a ll, a life style which broadens our perspectives of the world. Some others may instead find for them this job has no more meaning but a job itself. That is to say they ha ve found other reasons to persuade themselves to stay. The reason could be providing their fam ilies abundant economic and material resources, being satisfied with their current lives and not into changes, just to name a few. If there were no loveno matter how one may interpret it toward this occupation it is almost impossible to keep on flyingafter all, this is not a world for angels. In real life it always fills w ith struggles which com e in different forms. Many flight attendants think they are the visible invisible as revealed in the prologue of this chapter, everyone could see their glory but no one would care their pain, or a ssume their lives should be care-free. Therefore many of my previous colleagues would congrat ulate me for my good news because I did successfully getting out of here for a better life There is obviously a dilemma here: they see themselves suffering, yet still they are not leaving. In that sense how they see me as the one who decide to leave and can leave? The responses are extreme opposite. Some would admire my courage to make such a big change as mentione d; some instead would try to disapprove me. When I was about to resigned, there are always kind advises offered to me:
71 Think it twice before you jumpI heard so m any stories how the resigned crew members being regretful Its hard to find a job outside now Are you sure you want to do that? And obviously I did successfully relocate myself; ye t from time to time I still come across some comments like these: You should stay in Taiwan to accompany your parents. Getting married is more practical than studying! What would you do after you graduate? Will you make as much (money) as we do now? Yet I am not at all offended by my previous colleagues. I som ewhat could understand how and why these advises and comments were offered because they do not always address my situation but more like to persuade themselves they are on the right side. What I see is, there is no right and wrong in between, it is just the choice we make. What depresses me though is to see some of them now see they ar e inferior to me. A senior colleague, who used to be like a real bi g sister to me, gently turned me down for an interview. And her reason is: I am not qualified for you to interview as oldas a m other alreadyyou should ask others. Several others who congratulated me for pursi ng a prom ising future out of here would say similar thing like this: Ching-Yu, you are the smart oneyou are differe nt from us so you could go back to school They assume because I am smarter so I could m ake the difference. By doing this research I would like to prove to my community that we should not internalized the brainless waitress image into ourselves. It was not my personal in tellectual being superior to them so I go for
72 another career, but my personal choice, which explains itself that everyone could make a difference in her or his life. This research could not be conducted without the collective knowledge all flight attendants have built up and embodied. There should be no superiority and inferiority between all courageous womens experiences.
73 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION: IN THE NAME OF FLYING So you should go! Write up our storieslet people know more about us. ---a colleagues comment on my research Intersections between gender and occupation have been explored in different ways. This research on Taiwanese flight at tendants illustrates the fem ale-dominated occupation in the Asian context, which contributes to the curren t dialogues dominated by th e Western literature. I aim to let the womens authentic lived experien ces speak our and their voices to be heard. Flight attendant has been an occupation m ixed with a glorious beauty myth in several Asian countries. In Taiwan there are always thousands of young women competing for few open positions in an airlines company to become a flight attendant. While this occupation always attracts so much public attention, surprisingly, research on fli ght attendants has been limited. Therefore I aim to construct the subjectivity of female flight attendants in this research. My research questions look into how this occupa tion changes womens lives; how female flight attendants incorporate doing ge nder and emotional labor at wor k, and how their femininity is constructed. The ethnographical research methods include in terviews, participati on observations and textual analysis. The tim eline of the research was divided into two stages between 2005 and 2006. For the interviews, potential res pondents were recruited from my relationships with previous colleagues. In total, 32 interviews were conducted. As for the part icipation observation, numerous participation observati ons were conducted in diverse work-related contexts, including the crew center, international fli ghts, and flight attendants offduty social activit ies during their
74 layovers abroad. Last, data were collected from various materials in the media for textual analysis. The ideas of gender roles, doing gender, power to m anipulate and discipline human bodies and emotional labor serve as the theoretical concepts of this research. The majority of the latest research on this occupation in the post-Hochsch ild era either treated flight attendants as ornaments or only explored quantitative data. In addition since the research has focused more on womens experiences in western societies, women engaging the female-dominated occupation in Asian cultural context is absent from the mainstream dialogues. Findings show that the femininity of women in this occupation is constructed in m any dimensions simultaneously. From the very first confrontation with the occupational culture in recruitment, a womans body is repeatedly check ed and confirmed for qualification. Candidates attempt to make their appearance like a real flight at tendant in the job in terview and physically attempt to do so as well. After becoming flight attendants, their appearance must fulfill a uniformed look which allows no personal charac teristics. Flight attendants should present themselves as conservative, elegant and obedient implying they meet traditional gender role expectations on women. In addition, femininity is emphasized by makeup, especially f or the new flight attendants. The more experienced might be excused from such doing gender processes since they have built and testified their credibility as being feminine at work, which is a way of showing their respect to the occupation. In addition the physical featur es need to fit into the ideal image as well. Therefore uniforms play the ro le of silently constraining a nd controlling womens bodies and behaviors. Flight attendants a ppearances have been strictly su pervised and monitored in many different ways, which responds to Foucaults arguments.
75 For Taiwanese flight attendants, emotional labor is not only practiced in the cabin, but in all work-related contexts, even before they have ad mitted to the position. A flight attendant who fails to perform emotional labor to her patrons, co-wor kers, and supervisors in the context will find her qualifications and credibility are challe nged. The authentic pers onality of a flight attendant is not important, instead, the key fact it is whether they could project their persona to implicate they are able to do the emotional labor well. Besides, emotional labor is taught to be done through certain uniformed service dialogues. Flight attendants gradually learn how to do the emotional labor at work, not only from the on-job practice with passengers but also from observing senior colleagues talk and behaviors. How to display their emotion appropriately and effectively to respond to the passengers is defi nitely an important le sson to be learned. Also female flight attendants emphasize their fe minity in the ways they manage and express their em otions. By displaying certain behavior s, language use, attitudes and beliefs, the emotional labor they finally produce is overlapping with the behaviors as doing gender. In other words, it is the gendered emotional labor they are producing to prevent themselves from being seen as an unqualified flight attendant. Because of the constant requirements of displa yin g femininity through their disciplined bodies and doing gendered emotional labor at work, these ch aracteristics are finally internalized as their own characteristics. And by promoting business through flight attendants images airline companies simultaneously project the ideal of Asian femininity model. The ones who are qualified to be flight attenda nts are the ones who could be fit into such model. The researchers insider position contribu tes to this research in many different ways. In all, this thesis is significant not only because it addresses the gap in th e current literature in
76 gender and occupation scholarship but also b ecause it has brought a unique perspective in presenting the understudied womens experiences.
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80 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ching-Yu Chang (Louisa) received her bachel ors degree in foreign languages and litera tures at National Taiwan University, Taiwa n. Before she came to United States, she worked as a flight attendant for China Airlines for seven years. Experi ences she had acquired from this occupation broaden her vision, inspire and empower her in many different ways even after she had transferred to the academic career path. Af ter receiving the masters degree, she now continues her education to obtain her Ph.D. degree in Department of Sociology at University of Florida.