Women In Aviation Security
Women have been shattering glass ceilings all over the place in the last few years. We're seeing more female leaders, business owners and STEM workers than ever before. "Because of the lower ratio of women to men it can mean that female officers have more responsibility to cover certain positions and do certain tasks."
There's been a revolution of women breaking down barriers that had kept them out of certain professional fields.
And some industries are now itching to bring in more female thought leaders and workers to balance their gender representation and take advantage of the value women can add to their industry.
One industry that's falling over themselves trying to bring in more women is the aviation security industry.
Lynn Meechan, a former National Manager for a large security company and Aviation Security Officer says there's a strong need for more women in the security industry as a whole, "Women underestimate their power and abilities especially for this industry."
Lynn says it comes down to their natural propensity for communication and empathy.
"A woman's communication skills and empathy mean they deescalate situations more effectively and their attention to detail and multi-tasking skills makes for clear, clean and concise reporting and paperwork."
According to Lynn the message is clear across the security and aviation protection industry, "We need more women."
While more women are joining the industry, the demand is still growing according to aviation protection officer Lauren Paton.
"In the three years I have worked in aviation security there has been a steady flow of women joining the industry, however the ratio of women to men is still quite low."
Part of the demand for women in aviation security is due the nature of the security screening processes that often require additional female guards in order to offer appropriate options for searches.
"As same gender passenger processing is required at the airport, female officers are highly sort after and receive plenty of shifts."
Lauren Paton who works at Brisbane Airport says that being a woman working in the security industry has its challenges and its rewards.
While that added responsibility might be daunting there is an upside Lauren tells us. "The great news is this means there is plenty of work for women in aviation security."
Lauren says her role in aviation security has afforded her the opportunity for continued growth and professional development. "During my shifts leading the team I am always backed up by my superiors and there is always ongoing training."
There's also strong female representation in leadership which is something Lauren really appreciates. "Many of our leaders in the company are women and it is great to learn from them on a professional and personal level."
The advantages of having strong female representation in your management team is that you are offered more opportunities for leadership yourself.
Lauren says she has enjoyed growing professionally in the role and has been impressed with the lack of sexism. "As a female APO that occasionally takes on authoritative roles, I have found that I am not treated differently to the male leaders."
Although Lauren concedes there is the occasional misunderstandings or friction. "In some instances when there are cultural or religious differences there can be some friction however the majority of the time my instructions are followed and I am treated with the same respect as other leaders."
Lauren who had a thriving career in hospitality management before making the change to the aviation industry says it was a natural fit for her skill set. "Before I became an Aviation Protection Officer at Brisbane Airport I was working in hospitality managing bars and gaming rooms."
While it was a good stable career Lauren wanted to make a change and find something that gave her some challenges along with physicality and customer facing work. "Doing a physical job and interacting with people is my ideal work environment. My customer service background and experience made me an ideal candidate for aviation security and I was excited to see where those skills could take me in other areas."
Lauren says the move from hospitality to aviation security was a natural progression for her. "I've always been interested in border security and anything to do with travel as I caught the travel bug young. After many trips overseas and thus many airports I was fascinated by how everything worked."
According to Lauren the decision to make the change came after she found out about training opportunities. "I decided to change to the security industry when I discovered that Asset College provided an aviation security course. I wanted to change to a job in which I was helping contribute to a larger goal of safety, proficiency and great customer experience in an area that is close to my heart."
It's a change Lauren is glad to have made, as she's found success and opportunities for growth in the industry. "After 3 years working as an APO I'm still in love with the job. There are so many tasks to undertake and roles to experience."
The roles are varied and take you to many different places. "In my time at the airport I have worked in the primary screening areas at both International and Domestic terminals, worked in checked baggage screening, freight screening and even had shifts training new staff and leading the team. There are endless opportunities to learn and grow."
She says the advantage of being a woman in aviation security is, "we are highly valued and sort after."
When asked if she would recommend the industry to other women Lauren was quick to promote the benefits. "My advice to any women that are thinking about joining the security industry is, don't be afraid and give it a go." "In my line of work, I have always been backed up by my team and my superiors. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow and it can help build your confidence." "I really love this work and can't imagine doing anything else."