Jackie of All Trades: The Emergence of Stewardesses in the Belgian Fleet

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The emergence of oceans liners marked a turning point for female employment at sea. While women were generally not supposed to be crew members before the advent of steam, the unprecedented growth of the passenger trade created a formal female labour market. This transition was encouraged by a gendered demarcation of space on ocean liners and new interpretations of leisure activities among female passengers in first and second class, which in turn created a demand for stewardesses. This paper examines the work duties, geographical backgrounds and maritime careers of stewardesses who were employed on Belgian-flagged ocean liners departing from Antwerp. It highlights that the profiles and careers of women seafarers differed from their male counterparts in the steward’s department and concludes with the suggestion that to acquire more insight into the transformation of the maritime labour market, future research would benefit from more comparative approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages14
JournalJaarboek voor vrouwengeschiedenis
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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