"Engendering" Change in Disaster Response: Increasing Women in Leadership Roles
Fleet Street Law; Ryerson University
December, 21 2009
GENDER AND DISASTER IN CANADA: NEW THINKING, NEW DIRECTION, Provost, M., Griffiths, D., eds., Chapter 5, International Centre for Emergency Management Studies, Cape Breton University, 2007
Disaster response has has historically emerged from male dominated military institutions. Skills emphasized as advantageous by respondents in police, fire, and paramedic fields were physical strength and prowess, typically attributed to the male gender.
As a result of these fields being almost exclusively male dominated, management obtained through internal promotion was usually male as well, especially since idealized leadership traits are often misattributed to males. Some studies have found that leadership in complex stressful operations requires an appraisal of what is at stake and the manageability of a situation, but these findings lack information on the competency of women in such roles. The absence of women in senior disaster management positions may indicate that the entire process of selection, recruitment, and promotion in a system needs to be revamped.
The nature of response in the face of disaster in the modern era increasingly employs completely different skill sets and an ever broadening inclusion of various disciplines. Despite these changes, leadership in disaster response continues to perpetuate the stereotypes of what management in the field should be, and continues to be predominantly male. This paper will briefly summarize some of the advantages to increasing the number of females in disaster management and some strategies to practically transform an organization in order to promote such inclusion.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: disaster management, change management, organizational behaviour, gender roles, women in leadership
JEL Classification: L22, L23, L31, L32, M12, M51, M53, M54, I28
Date posted: December 22, 2009