Women in Aviation: Master Warrant Officer Laurie Moore

News Article / May 11, 2017 / Project number: RCAF20170511001

Royal Canadian Air Force

Hometown: Rosthern, Saskatchewan

Occupation: Traffic technician

Current job: I am currently one of two subject matter experts conducting a full study review of the traffic technician occupation.

We basically break the occupation down to its lowest of roots and build it back up systematically to meet the needs of the CAF [Canadian Armed Forces], starting with a master task list for every job at each rank. We determine who is best suited to complete the task, regardless of whether or not they are doing it now.

It is also important to put the right people in the right locations so we’ve restructured and reorganized the trade as a whole, ensuring mission success at every location. The hardest part was convincing all stakeholders that the final product was good for the CAF as a whole, and that compromises would have to be made.

We started the study in September of 2015 and the new changes were implemented in April 2017.

Editor’s note: Traffic technicians plan and manage the movement of personnel, materiel and equipment by road, rail, air and sea. Their duties include passenger reception, warehouse operations, aircraft and rail load planning, and aircraft loading/unloading. Loadmasters onboard RCAF aircraft are a subset of the traffic technician occupation.

What drew you to join the Royal Canadian Air Force?

My dad was in the RCAF and I thought he had a pretty interesting career. He was involved with a lot of different things being an aerospace engineering officer, including inventing new systems for the military and designing bombs to go through German bunkers in conjunction with the United States Air Force. I found military aircraft very interesting and initially thought I wanted to work on the computer systems of the CF-188 or be a helicopter pilot. Interestingly enough, [the job of] traffic technician was offered and when I learned what they did it instantly drew my interest. The travel opportunities were a big draw as well as the possibility of becoming a loadmaster. Dispatching cargo and troops out of the back of an aircraft looked as challenging as it did rewarding.

What have been some of the highlights of your career with the RCAF?

In 2006, I was one of the crew members who flew into Bagdad to assist with the extraction of two rescued hostages (we weren’t part of the rescue effort, just the means of getting them out of the country).

In 2007, I was selected to represent the RCAF at the International Women in Aviation Conference in San Diego, California. This was an amazing experience for me to meet with some very incredible women, from the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots) to the first female pilot selected to the U.S. Navy acrobatic team, the Blue Angels. It was at that conference that I also met [United States test pilot] Chuck Yaeger [the first human to officially break the sound barrier]; that was pretty cool in itself.

In May 2009, it was my great pleasure to fly my sister into Kandahar to start her seven-month deployment. That was the first time in our careers when we were both in the same place.

When I was selected as one of 10 loadmasters to be in the initial cadre on the newly acquired CC-177 Globemaster III, it was a big deal for me, because of the accomplishment in itself (and being the first and only female), but also because my dad was part of the initial project to procure the aircraft. During my final flying tour in Afghanistan, I was fortunate enough to present Prime Minister Harper with the 429 Squadron coin.

If you could provide advice to young women who are thinking about joining the RCAF, what would it be?

It’s sad to say, but it would have to be: Have a thick skin. Be confident in who you are and your abilities. Don’t play the gender card. There will always be a small group of people who think you don’t belong but don’t let them get to you. Believe in yourself and be your biggest advocate. You can have a very rewarding career doing what you love, and any bad times will pass.

What have been some of the challenges of your career with the RCAF?

Breaking the gender gap. Some people still believe that women don’t belong in the military, or at least in certain professions. There have been supervisors who were too afraid of putting women in certain roles or jobs for fear that the men would think this made them inferior. They had no problem if a man got the job but there was some sort of inferiority complex if a woman did. So, naturally, there were times in my career that I would feel I was getting punished because of my gender. It didn’t happen a lot but it certainly left a lasting impression.

If you could provide advice to senior leadership on recruitment, training and retention of women in the RCAF, what would it be?

Stop being so analytical about what people think “women’s work” really is.

Far too often, we get stereotyped into roles of administration or light work because that is where people think we are most comfortable. Then we get told some sunshine and roses story why we aren’t doing other work; work that gets noticed; work the men get. I was once told by a supervisor that there was no place in our trade for women, and that one woman in particular was too small to do anything useful but sit behind a desk. “We need more burly strong men, not weak feeble women”. That day, as it turned out, we were loading a K-loader into the back of a CC-130 Hercules. Very little clearance all around and due to its weight, it required a lot of tie-down restraint. The burly strong guys couldn’t fit beside or underneath the loader, so guess who was tasked to apply those restraints? The woman that was labelled too small to be useful.

My best advice is to know your people. Know their strengths and weaknesses and build them up. Challenge them, let them succeed and fail on their own accord but don’t pigeonhole them because of what they look like or what your idea is of their capabilities.

I’ve seen a lot of woman discouraged because they don’t get afforded the same opportunities or challenges as their male counterparts, which usually causes a slower career progression. When I got posted into a “desk job”, so many of the guys would come over and say, “You’re good at this though”. Yes, and you are the same rank so why aren’t you good at it? While they were able to continue doing the job that I loved, I was the one who had to move because, “it was administrative in nature and I was good at it.”

It always appeared as if the men were given the opportunity to progress and the women were given the opportunity to get better on certain things. Rarely if ever was it vice versa.

Another thing that discourages women is when people say, “We are giving you this opportunity because we need more women doing this task.” Nothing crushes a woman’s confidence more than telling them they are getting a job for statistical purposes. When it comes to recruitment, leave the gender statements out. Everyone is a soldier and everyone is a member of the team. Training just needs to be equal. When I say equal, I mean “treat everyone the same”. Everyone has limitations; don’t equate them to gender.

It goes back to knowing your people.

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