Air France stewards should wear headscarves too

That might be a better solution than allowing air stewardesses to opt out of the Paris-Tehran flight route.

The French airline appears to have dodged a bullet for now, but those flights still need to be staffed. Who might these be? The Air France stewards mainly, and the air stewardesses who opt-in for the flights — sure, I could see the long queue of eager stewardesses waiting to try the headscarves.

The gender imbalance is almost certain to happen: an Air France steward can’t refuse the flight assignment for, say, solidarity with female colleagues on their dress code restrictions. BTW, this is not ‘reverse discrimination’. The female attendants have the right to refuse an assignment to Tehran only because they received differential treatment, so it was a compensatory right. That male attendants would be forced to replace their female colleagues is merely an unfortunate side-effect.

But something still feels off.

The truth is, however one describes it, the other ‘non-discrimanated’ party ended up short as a result of these policies. In some US universities, ‘affirmative action’ admission policies are implemented to maintain racial diversity. Asian-Americans candidates, in general, demonstrate superior performance in academic exams and some extra-curricular areas, but they often face longer odds of entering top universities compared to similarly qualified candidates from other racial groups. These policies don’t add up: if race is not a major factor in intellectual and academic performance, then racial balancing should not be needed, as the candidates’ performance would only reflect past efforts and individiual talents. The ‘affirmative action’ only serves to affirm that some races are inherently weaker, and their members need a handicap to compete. And that would only perpetuate that race is a deciding factor in performance …

Back to the issue of Air France and the headscarf: certainly an airline cannot hope to change the sovereign law of a nation, but it can impose additional dress codes on the male staff also. Obviously, as compensation, air stewards would gain the right to opt out of that route too. And this would reveal the fundamental issue and solution — the airline needs to offer greater incentives to entice staff to serve on this route. Merely forcing one group to serve in place of another hardly seems in line with the values that the French espouses.

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