The ACT fire recruitment efforts have been highlighting the need for gender diversity in their ranks. A diverse group of people can attack problems from different angles. Among other benefits, at a good level of diversity, improved perspective, safety, and efficiency are afforded active teams.
Statistics show as little as 2% of firefighters are women. Obviously, more than 2% of women are capable but many feel excluded from the “boys club” that the average person thinks of when they think of firefighters.
The ACT fire recruitment campaign has to break through decades of stereotypes to be successful. The planned campaign won’t shatter the stereotype, it is a start.
Opposition to Woman Focused ACT Fire Recruitment
Naysayers to the women-focused ACT fire recruitment campaign are judgmental. They feel that the most qualified person should be chosen. “How is it best for everyone if a woman performs worse than a man in the tests yet is picked anyway?” Fears are founded in the safety of team members, anyone performing less than optimally is an unnecessary risk to themselves and to the team they support.
There are dangers in focusing on women as new recruits. It has been suggested that they will have a different standard and different female-only tests, which would confirm the fears and would only lead to insulting capable women. There is no reason to reduce their requirements, as fit women are just as capable as men at passing the exams.
This campaign is less about picking a female candidate and more about providing an inclusive environment that respects both genders and their needs, giving equal opportunities, and utilizing the wide variety of skills that come with a diverse workforce. It’s about making firefighting an attractive choice to anyone who’s interested.
All over the world, women firefighters face discrimination and sexual harassment at work on a daily basis. Gear wasn’t built for them, as is are generally built for the majority of firefighters, and since 98% of firefighters are men… well you can do the math! Worldwide, women are often denied promotions based on gender alone (how many macho men have you heard say “I won’t take orders from a woman”?).
The woman-focused ACT fire recruitment campaign needs to not only address outreaching women in the capital territory, but also changing conditions and the environment within the firehouses themselves! This is no easy task, but the sooner change is effected, the sooner potential women recruits will be affected.
How do you feel about a woman-focused campaign in the industry? Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments or contact me with any questions.