“There’s only one person you need to believe in you – and that’s you.”
Before becoming a cabin crew member in 2016, Rose Streete was terrified of flying. For Rose, flying involved holding tightly onto the arm rest, dreading both takeoff and landing. “It wasn’t until 2013, on New Year’s Eve, which also happened to be my birthday that I realized my love for travel far exceeded my fear of flying,“ says Rose.
Three years later, Rose decided that working with WestJet as a cabin crew member would enable her to help those who, like her, had a fear of flying that prevented them from exploring their passion. “Our world is vast. By conquering my fear of flying, I can fulfill my desire to see the world and provide my children that same opportunity. WestJet has allowed me the opportunity to help others do the same,” says Rose.
We sat down with Rose and asked her a few questions about her love for travel, what inspires her and the importance of empowering girls and young women.
What challenges do women face in the industry?
From 2013 to 2015, I immersed myself in community work, working for a local non-profit organization in Mississauga, Ontario. In those two years, I conducted a research project that required me to meet with 23 young women between the ages of 15 and 24, who were living in racialized and marginalized communities to discuss the barriers they faced in striving for success.
One day I asked a woman I knew that worked in community development to come and speak to these young women – she also happened to be a pilot. When the group learned her occupation, they were infatuated with her. For the majority of the group, it was the first time they had seen someone that they could relate to, who was successful in a non-traditional role. The impact of that was unmeasurable.
When young women exclusively see themselves represented in traditional roles, it decreases the areas of opportunity they believe they will find success in. This results in a continuing lack of female representation in industries like aviation.
What would you like to see change in the aviation industry?
More consistent efforts to increase female representation; International Women’s day is one day. During the other 364 days of the year, young women are making decisions for their future. I would like to see more successful women celebrated consistently, showcasing that no matter your gender, you can be successful within the aviation industry.
Additionally, the broader aviation industry needs to do a better job of specifically targeting young women in their recruitment efforts. The prospect of becoming a pilot was once labelled as more suitable for men, but we know now this isn’t true. Now we need to do the work to demonstrate to young women that they too, are worthy of a successful career in aviation.
Tell us about a time when you were proud to be a woman in aviation?
I follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them done unto you. This rule has guided me for a long time and makes me successful as a cabin crew member. Every time my guests board our aircraft, I try to put myself in their shoes. I empathize with each guest as a mother, someone with a fear of flying and as a human, focusing on how I can get them comfortably and safely to their destination and elevate their love of travel.
After a flight lands, I often have children come up to me requesting to see the flight deck, telling me about their dream of being a pilot. The other day, I had a young girl approach. The crew immediately made her feel incredibly welcome and did their best to encourage her. This was an opportunity to empower this young woman and the crew did just that and I was incredibly proud to witness it.
To learn more, visit westjet.com/womeninaviation.