From being women-friendly, our industry should consider ways to be more family-friendly: Liana Coyne

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This International Women's Day, Liana Coyne, Chief Operating Officer of Coyne Airways shares her insight with The STAT Trade Times on working in a male-dominated industry. She observes when we are considering why more women are not attracted to a career in air cargo we should ask ourselves what barriers there might be, formal and informal.

At any point in time in your career, have you faced queries like why did you choose air cargo as a career while it is considered more as a ‘masculine’ concept? Is it the tendency that is keeping away women from this sector that it is only meant for men?

On reflection, I think most jobs I have had been in male-dominated industries. I remember going for an interview for an internship with an NGO focused on conflict resolution in Africa while I was at university and one of the panels asked me if it would be an issue joining an all-male team. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me at the time, and I asked simply, “No. Should it be?”

I think that, when we are considering why more women are not attracted to a career in air cargo we should ask ourselves what barriers there might be, formal and informal. Is there a reason why a woman might not be comfortable or productive on your team? If so, why and what can you do to remedy that?

I think one major question to consider is how do we, as an industry, become more family-friendly? The statistics show that the wage gap between men and women who are not mothers is closing, but persists between men and women who are mothers. This ‘motherhood penalty’ is because women are still expected to be the primary caregivers for children and that may lead to employers either shying away from employing or promoting women in their childbearing years or women choosing careers or positions where they can better manage work and childcare.

I would like to see a world where both mothers and fathers are seen as equal caregivers. I think that will take a cultural and probably legislative shift in most countries. However, on a company level, I think there are steps that can be taken to enable both men and women to balance their roles as caregivers and workers, particularly with the advances in technology.

If we are to take something positive from the coronavirus crisis, I think that it has created the right conditions to rethink the workplace:

1.     It has underscored the importance of family relationships;

2.     It has exposed the tremendous amount of work that goes into raising a family; and

3.     It has shown that we do not necessarily need to be tethered to our desks to be productive.

When life returns to normal, I think many of us will miss the time we spend at home with our children. I hope that we will be able to restructure our days so that we can balance business needs with spending quality time with the people we love: that might look like leaving early from work to pick up our kids and spend an hour in the park with them or making sure we make it for bedtime every day and then working from home to make up the hours.

An apt question to ask a woman now is how did you manage work from home and personal life as air cargo is witnessing busiest hours due to the pandemic?

As a single parent, I have been very fortunate and privileged to have a robust support network at home.

What are the initiatives implemented by you in your organization to encourage women to choose air cargo as a profession?

We are a family company and family is at the heart of what we do. We do not have any initiatives aimed specifically at women but we try to be sensitive to the family commitments of both mothers and fathers.

 


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