What did the women say to fitting-in? Being singled out to do difficult tasks on your own when it was group training. Minor mistakes highlighted and being made a fool of in front of watch. Colleague making things up to watch about things I did or didn't do on fireground. 1st station ignored. Walked out of rooms etc. 2nd station - physically, verbally, sexually harassed. Inappropriate questions, conversations, magazines, language and comments directed at women while I was around. Belittling, sexual innuendo, preventing attending courses, shouting, swearing, threatening behaviour, being told I was not putting my career in front of my family and this was wrong, threat of no promotion because I was a mum, intimidation, telling colleagues how I was no longer competent at directing courses, being prevented from transferring to another department.
The question asked at the Avon women and leadership conference (2006) Question How do we increase the numbers of women firefighters in the fire and rescue service? Answer Change the culture Question How do we change the culture? Answer Increase the number women firefighters in the fire and rescue service
Is harassment a consequence of structural, institutional or individual actions? Case studies Four women who left the fire service – Principal Manager challenged the culture just be being there marginalised by other principal managers throughout the fire service held her ground – worn down - took out a sexual harassment action – so weakened settled out of court (including a silencing agreement) – Watch manager successful career promoted and not accepted by peers looked for help – unsupported by managers – took out sexual harassment action - so weakened settled out of court (including a silencing agreement) – Firefighter treated badly – stood out against the flow – weakened – took out sexual harassment action – settled out of court (including a silencing agreement) – Student harassed whilst on workplacement – kept secret – spoke out after she left – will not now join the fire and rescue service
These arguments almost make as if fireservice culture has a life of its own Firefighters culture is a combination of group ownership, tradition and history Values that one cohort of firefighters will only pass down to people like themselves As a result, it is often the culture (rather than individuals) that takes the credit/blame for how the fire and rescue service harasses women who try to become firefighters
Where does masculinity come from, what does it mean, how powerful is it? Creation of the imagery by firefighters that they risk their life to protect people who cannot protect themselves But how does this caring image fit when firefighters deny women access Harassing women to to protect firefighters public image?
Potentially three competing interests Firefighters have minds of their own Firefighters make a choices when they join in on cultural practices – good or bad Sometimes group behaviour can be so powerful as to almost force firefighters to act in a certain way – culture is learned behaviour
Informal Culture The informal culture set by the firefighters the way things are done around here Whether firefighters imagery is true or not it is believed by the public And by the firefighters who act out this part who must defending it protecting it proving it Firefighters do this by fitting people they recognise as like them in with their culture
Colin, six years service There are sheep and there are shepherds, or a shepherd. And a lot of people only see that way and anything that this person says is always right. Just overpowering..its hard to explain, come on lets do this and it just rolls. Starts, its like a snowball and it just gets bigger and bigger and you get caught up in it as it rolls and gets bigger. And thats the only way I can explain it in our watch.
Firefighters culture Fitting-in with the team Positive when it provides good team working skills Positive when it results in teaching new firefighters how to do their job Negative when bonding results in group think Negative when it celebrates a masculinity based on informal hierarchies and heroic imagery Negative when it becomes a counter culture that is controlled by white men who seek to exclude all others to protect their masculinity
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Fitting-in offers a range of services Fitting-in seeks to work with the experts – those leaders of the fire and rescue service who were chosen for their decision-making skills. Since 2001 Fitting-in has also provided a free space for the fire and rescue service and academia to meet and share research. This free service continues and people are invited to send their work to be published on this site. Fitting-in offers an extensive research, educational and training portfolio, snapshot audits and elite-briefing led workshops each designed to act as levers for change? Snapshot AuditsSnapshot Audits: - are a new concept developed especially for the MFRS that led to them saying: "The Service are delighted with the research and reports produced by "Fitting-in. We believe that your original hypothesis and work undertaken in Merseyside has resulted in a ground breaking piece of work that can only serve to inform the wider fire and rescue communities." If you want to look afresh at an old difficulty, respond to something new, carry out an impact assessment, then ask how fast we can turn around our research in an efficient, rigorous and economic way. Fitting-in can also cater for your traditional research needs and you may wish to tap into our expertise - contact us to see what we can offerresearch Elite WorkshopsElite Workshops:- are stand alone one day packages for senior managers and authority members on a whole raft of areas. Subjects covered include fire service culture(s), the employment of women as firefighters, change management, initial training. We can offer a whole host of education and training packages. These workshops have a primary aim of seeking solutions and will be customised to your requirements - they can also be used as team building days for your senior managers. We also offer a workshop for people who are having difficulty in understanding how equality works and what diversity means; people who may need to spend some time reviewing their attitudes. Contact us at Visit the website
Dr. Dave Baigent BA Honours, GradIFireE, PhD Mobile For a full CV After serving as a Station Officer for over 30 years in the London Fire Brigade, I studied for a first degree and then researched for my doctorate on fire service culture. doctorate on fire service culture. Principal Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge where I wrote and lecture on the UKs first Public Service Degree. This degree focuses on the critical skills necessary for uniformed services and considers formal and informal cultures, community participation, leadership, change management, modernisation, politics, equality and diversity.Anglia Ruskin University Director of the Fire Service Research and Training Unit at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. My research is mainly associated with the harassment of women firefighters, the development of informal masculine cultures and training.women firefightersinformal masculine cultures training. I am the founding director of Fitting-in, a consultancy that provides research, training and education for the fire and rescue serviceFitting-in Services include: snapshot audits to test new ideas and reconsider old difficulties; customised workshops to set strategy and at the same time build and develop teams;workshops to set strategy and at the same time build and develop teams; a range of customised educational/training opportunities; particularly on culture, change management, solving problems and the employment of women firefighters;culture, change management, solving problems and the employment of women firefighters; research Recently, with Sarah OConnor, I have been working with Merseyside developing the Ethos project that seeks to reconcile cultural difficulties, implement core values and improve industrial relations. Ethos 1 and 2 reports drew the following commentEthos 1 and 2 reports "The Service are delighted with the research and reports produced by Fitting-in. We believe that your original hypothesis and work undertaken in Merseyside has resulted in a ground breaking piece of work that can only serve to inform the wider fire and rescue communities." (ACFO Bill Evans) To sum up Dave has a 360 degree view of the fire and rescue service, he has been a firefighter, a researcher, educationalist, academic and consultant