The Executive General Manager of Safety and Assurance at Airservices Australia was recruited here over two decades ago following time as an air safety investigator and undertaking research work on aircraft cabin safety.
Reflecting on her long career in a traditionally male-dominated industry for International Women’s Day celebrations, Dr Marrison says that many positives can come from challenging gender norms in the workplace.
“A male-dominated workforce is often reported as being a hostile environment for a woman, but that has not been my experience,” she says.
“It seems counter intuitive, but in being different and having ‘got into their world’ they can be very supportive.
“I have on occasions thought that this may be because they recognise that you could be their daughter, you could be their wife.”
Although she acknowledges that her experiences are not a reflection of all women at work, Dr Marrison says her time in the industry has been overwhelmingly positive, with her workmates appreciative of the skill sets she has brought to all settings.
“I think it’s been recognition that yes, you are different but you bring something to the party,” she says.
Dr Marrison believes it’s an exciting time for women to be in aviation-related careers.
However, she also notes that both men and women already in the industry must continue to challenge norms and welcome disruption for the sake of professional and organisational potential.
“We need to set the standard, mirror those behaviours and really challenge people and say we’re not going to reach the potential of this organisation unless we leverage off every piece of diversity and different ways of thinking that people can bring,” she says.
“Because we don’t have all the solutions and we need to be open to everything.”
And that challenge includes changing mindsets around what are or aren’t defined as ‘female-friendly’ jobs such those in air traffic control or aviation firefighting and rescue, she says.
Dr Marrison says her longevity in the industry and at Airservices Australia is due in part to being able to take advantage of flexibly work options.
“Supporting flexibility in the workplace for both men and women key to progressing workplace gender equality,” she says.
“One of the things I see being quite different now is that the requests for flexibility that come to my desk come as from as many males as females.”
“And my view is that in delivering flexibility for a male you are delivering flexibility to their partner”.
“It’s all about making sure people want to come to work because they love what they, do but also that they have the time and space to fulfil their wider obligations to family and community. And that balance for me is key.”