“When I first joined the industry as a line dispatcher, I was well aware I was one of very few women in my field and there were challenging connotations that came with that. I needed to work harder than my male counterparts to prove I deserved the role. Fortunately, I had a strong leader and mentor who pushed me, along with my own motivation to work as hard as I needed to, to succeed. It is because of her, that when I found myself in a leadership position as a chief dispatcher, and eventually an Operations Duty Manager, I dedicated myself to elevating other women along with me.
It can be very isolating and daunting when you realize you are the only woman in the room, but instead of wallowing in that feeling, I used it as motivation to support the women who were passionate enough to enter the aviation space and pushed them to see their capabilities. Today, 19 years into my career, I am proud to say I am no longer the only woman in the room and many operations meetings I attend have a majority of women in attendance. I believe that is a real testament to brave women, who have carved out a path for themselves in a previously male-dominated field and supported each other along the way.
Throughout my journey in aviation, I also became a mother. Entering motherhood, brought other challenges and pressure to be the perfect mom and employee. Juggling shift work can sometimes mean missing out on making my kids breakfast every morning, but over time I learned to cut myself some slack. I am not ashamed to be a single, working mother. Every day I show my kids what a strong, independent woman looks like and that with hard work, they can achieve anything.
As I reflect on 2020 and its challenges, I find myself grateful for the support system fostered amongst my leader and team. It’s easy to feel a strong sense of survivor’s guilt, after watching so many of your coworkers and friends say goodbye to an organization they loved, but I’ve found myself inspired by the men and women around me who have made it their priority to take care of each other.
In my nineteen years at WestJet, we’ve faced many challenges along the way, but it is in the darkest of times when we shine the brightest through our kindness, empathy, and willingness to care.”
- Rhonda Johnson, Duty Manager, Operations