Venice gets its first female gondolier

Women’s Rights: 1

Tradition: 0

Venice has broken a nine hundred year-old tradition by certifying its first female gondolier. The trade, normally handed down from father to son, recently opened up to everyone when the city of Venice introduced an official gondoliering course in 2007. That course has just had its first female graduate, the Guardian reported.

Giorgia Boscolo, a 23 year-old mother of two, said that she’s always been enchanted with gondolas and that childbirth is much more difficult than maneuvering the large boats through narrow canals. Boscolo had to take 400 hours of coursework and prove a detailed knowledge of Venice’s labyrinth of waterways.

It will be interesting to see how accepted she will be by the other gondoliers, but one thing’s for certain, she’ll certainly be getting a lot of customers until more female gondoliers start plying the waters of Venice and the novelty wears off.

Any bets on what year will be the last year to have a female “first”? There are a lot more barriers left to break. Running a gondola isn’t exactly walking on the moon, but it cuts the number by one, and that’s something to be proud of.

Top 10 stupidest laws you could encounter abroad

Flight attendants are a part of the history for work equality

When the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed this week, there were echoes of women in the past who have worked for equitable pay and fair work practices. Flight attendants have a long history of pushing for such fairness.

One of the first flight attendants, one might say, was Katharine Wright a suffragette, and the Wright brother’s sister. She was the second woman to ever fly when she accompanied Wilbur on a flight in Pau, France to show that flying was safe for everyone. If it wasn’t for her, their success may not have been as great as it was. As women cast their eye upwards, they became part of the fabric of social and economic justice.

Here’s a timeline of flight attendants breaking the glass ceiling of the sky:

1945– First labor union of flight attendants in the U.S. was formed. The Air Line Stewardess Association (ALSA) worked for pay raises, duty limits and the right to see personal records among other things.

1957– Mohawk Airlines hired the first African American stewardess. Ruth Carol Taylor was the first African American stewardess, paving the way for others. TWA was the first major airlines to hire a black stewardess after Mohawk Airlines’ action.

1960s– Fought against airlines’ policies that flight attendants retire at age 30 to 35, but without success. Made some headway with the passing of Title VII, The Civil Rights Act. One part of the act forbade discrimination in the work place based n sex. By the late 60s, airlines dropped the age discrimination policy and the policy that said flight attendants couldn’t be married.

1972– A group of flight attendants formed Stewardesses for Women’s Rights and began to protest sexist treatment of stewardesses. Airline campaigns like “Fly Me,” (National’s) were seen as deeming and the sexy images of stewardesses being pushed to sell flying were seen as a way to keep women from being treated as equal to men and affected their ability to do their job effectively. What was their main job? Assure passenger safety.

1974 – Association of Flight Attendants formed in a separate union from Transport Workers Union which was male dominated. Union began to challenge airlines policies on maternity and weight restrictions.

Also in the 1970s, continued their long battle to be seen as recognition as safety professionals. There was a continued push for flight attendants to have some sort of certification program to prove their qualifications as having specialized skills.

2003– After September 11, 2001, proof that flight attendants were indeed safety professionals was evident. Congress mandated a licensing program for flight attendants.

So, now we know why Gadling’s own Heather Poole can save our lives, and have a child, and be married, and not have to worry about losing her job as she gets older–just because she’s getting older or gains a few pounds. Not too shabby.

[Facts found in Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, page on “Flight Attendants & Labor History.”]

Saudi women now allowed to stay in hotels alone

As a woman I am always partial to questions of global women’s issues. Tackling the world on your own as a woman definitely has its struggles and delights, but most importantly, it makes you more aware of the treatment of women across the globe. Fortunately I am happy to announce a change in policy from one of the countries where the everyday life of a woman is under strict regulation: Saudi Arabia.

According to the AP, today the Saudi daily newspaper Ali-Watan reported that the government has made a policy decision allowing women traveling on their own to stay in hotels or furnished apartments without a male companion. Hotels will now accept lone women travelers, as long as their information is sent to the local police.

Although it may seem like a small step to us Westerners, it is a big advance in a country where women are under strict Islamic law. Everyday life for a Saudi women entails everything from not being able to drive to needing the permission of a male guardian to travel abroad.

The international community has voiced its opinion on the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, insisting on the necessity for change. Beyond women’s issues, as a travel destination Saudi Arabia isn’t on the top list for the U.S. government; it was placed on the State Department Travel Advisory website, last summer and again during the holidays.

See also: Saudi women may finally be allowed to drive