Women of Delta: Charlotte’s story

A recent Delta recruit, Charlotte works as part of our Structural team as a scheduler. She’s no stranger to the difficulties of being the only woman in a team, and the longer lengths one might need to go to, to earn equitable respect in some offices. Her story is one that resonates with many.

*The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, it’s almost like Mother’s Day in Europe where people celebrate women and their lives, but particularly celebrate mothers. They’ll be extra thankful to mothers and grandmothers. Some people even take offence if you don’t buy them flowers on the day. Just something to acknowledge them. In the UK its doesn’t seem to be such a big thing. 

I think it’s great that we’ve got this now, I think women have more choices than they ever did. 

I think that’s because marriage is not really a thing like it used to be, that was our only option, to get married and have kids.  We didn’t have a chance to go to work because our work was in the home. Which I’m not saying isn’t still important, because it is to build a family, but it should be 50/50 responsibility.  It shouldn’t just be all on one or all on the other. We’ve got the rights to work now, so men should step up their game and help with their home life, because that’s still a job within itself, but it’s just not the option that women have.  I think it is a great reason to celebrate International Women’s Day, because we’ve finally got options. People should be out there living those options. 

Taking it back to childhood, when you were growing up and thinking about your future and your career what were your aspirations? What did you want to be?

My auntie was a head Air Hostess for British Airways back in the ‘60s, so she had a very high-powered job for the time. She had her own team, and she flew all across the world on long haul flights so she would stay away often.  She’s seen the world so ever since I was young, I aspired to do something like she did. 

I have travelled a lot. I never went down that route of being an Air Hostess, but seeing her, the life that she had made for herself, that made me want to be like that. So, I wanted to travel and know that I didn’t have to have a man with me while I did it, I could do it all.  Even back then in the ‘60s my auntie was representing for the women out there.

My Mum she is so strong too, I grew up in an Irish family, she worked, took care of the home, and looked after three children. She did it all, she worked nights and then would come home, take us to school, clean the house, sleep until about 3 o’clock, then pick us up, do dinner, do everything else and then got back to work. She was a soldier; I’ve always had strong women around me, and I think they’ve made me what I am today. 

So, would you say they’ve influenced your career choices?

Yes, they have, they’ve shown me that whatever you choose, if you put hard work into it, you’ll get reward. No matter what career it is that I’ve chosen, and in every job, I’ve done that, and it’s led me to Delta today. 

You’ve been with Delta for only 3 months so far. What’s your experience been like? 

Brilliant, it’s been really great. It really has. Working in a male environment, I thought I might have to prove myself like I did in my previous job where I worked in the plumbing industry. It took me a long time to prove myself there. But here, I was just accepted straight away. I’ve made really good relationships with the people that I work with and being in a team of men, they respect me and that is something you don’t get very often.  I got it instantly with these guys, in my previous job I didn’t. I had to work twice as hard to get to the respect. 

Having to prove yourself previously and getting that respect – do you think that’s related to you as a person, or do you think that has any relation to you in your gender, or both?

Both. I think women in the workplace they have to prove themselves and their worth, even today you still have to. You know, even the clothes that you wear to work for example, I don’t dress smart, but my work shows I that I’m more than capable of doing the job so we should just be accepted. People should give us marks off the back of the work we do, not what we look like or what gender we are. If our work is 10 out of 10 then we should be getting the respect. 

So, I know you’ve only been here for quite short amount of time, but what would you say that your proudest moment has been here? 

When I passed my probation and my manager said that I’ve come on further than they expected, so it really boosted me. I felt like my hard work really paid off and it has been noticed. They’ve given me great feedback. That’s exactly what you want. You want your manager to tell you’ve done well. So, I’ve passed my probation, they’re very proud with what I’ve done, and that makes me really proud. 

If anything, it makes me want to work harder – I think it’s my proudest moment so far. 

It sounds like in the past you’ve maybe faced some barriers, do you feel like they are related to your gender?

100%. So even where I’ve travelled. I met people and they would say “who did you come with?” I’m sorry I went by myself? “You went to America by yourself and got a job?” Yes!

I’m more than capable of doing it myself, the previous job I had I was in the plumbing industry for, five years, literally 99.9% men.  I had to learn quickly. Every day I had to be better than the best male workers in that environment and it was hard work.  But I was more than capable. I was there for five years, and I was promoted two or three times. 

Why did you feel like you had to be better?

Because in that kind of industry, and especially having blonde hair, people just thought I was a bit of an “air head” and where my personality is quite happy and bubbly, they didn’t see behind that. They just saw that she’s happy, bubbly, got blonde hair, so I had to show them that I could actually do the work, and still be this person – who I am. I had to work extra hard just because of what I looked like. 

On the positive, though, it doesn’t sound like you feel that way at Delta? It sounds like you feel like an equal level with everyone else?

No, not at all. Not at all. I do feel equal because the team that I work with now, have just accepted me for who I am, and they’ve helped me along the way. And it feels great to be part of a close-knit team. It doesn’t matter it’s all men they’ve accepted me for who I am, for what I look like. They know that I’m more than capable of doing the job.

Do you think that takes away a certain pressure with having to always outperform everyone?

Yes, I do, but I think that’s just ingrained in my personality. I come from an Irish background where there was not much work, so my parents moved here, hard work was instilled in me. I understand what you’re saying from the gender point of view, but that’s just how I’ve been brought up, so I want to work hard for me, not for anyone else. 

When did your parents move to the UK?

When they were teenagers. My Mum and Dad lost their accents on purpose. They purposely lost their accents so they could fit in. 

Knowing how much that impacted you as a kid in terms of the way that you operate through the world and the way that you’ve learnt to cope with some of those inequalities from quite a young age what would you say to the generation of females who have started to think about work? What would you say to them to encourage them? 

Be yourself, work hard, that’s all you need to do.  You don’t need to be anyone else, be exactly who you are. Do not change for anyone and work hard. In whatever you do, if that’s making your dinner, make yourself a great dinner. If it’s going to the gym, work out really hard. If you’re going to work, work the best you can. Just do the best you can and be yourself and it will always turn out alright in the end and it will always be enough. You don’t have to change. 

How do you think we can encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles?  Not just going in for a job just working hard, but making them believe that their ambitions of being up high in a company can come true?

By hiring more women. 

There are opportunities out there for women. There really is, it can be intimidating going into a mostly male workforce. So, if there are more women around then it shows that there are opportunities for them. If there are women in management positions already, that gives off a vibe that you can come and work for a company and you can aspire to anything, and it can be done.  I think it just comes down to hiring more women. 

Really, on CVs if you didn’t have anyone’s name or gender on it and just compared skills, I’m sure there would be a lot more women hired, just like now you can’t put your age on there, maybe you shouldn’t put your gender or your name on CVs, it should just be based on what your skills are. I bet there would be a lot more women hired. Who knows that might happen in a few years – you just don’t know do you?