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Gender and the achievement of skilled status in the workplace: the case of women leaders in the UK Fire and Rescue Service

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Abstract

This article focuses on a hitherto un-researched group: women leaders within the UK Fire and Rescue Service. The process of modernising the Fire and Rescue Service has increased expectations of workforce diversification and of women more easily entering, and progressing within, the organisation. Here, however, participants’ commentary testified to the difficulties faced when seeking recognition as a skilled woman in this context given the persistence of firefighter men as the occupational ideal type. Achieving recognition for both physical and non-physical skills remained an embodied, gendered and contested process and one that was not eased by promotion. Participants identified the heightened visibility that accompanied leadership as especially problematic. The findings suggest that some new elements of the modernised UK Fire and Rescue Service culture are less successful than they might be at supporting women in leadership roles.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-255
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Volume30
Issue number2
Early online date22 May 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

    Research areas

  • Body, Gender, Fire and Rescue Service, Leadership, Management, Skill, Work

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