Volunteering masculinities in search and rescue work; Is there ‘a place for girls on the team’?

Weller, Sarah‐Louise; Clarke, Caroline A. and Brown, Andrew D. (2021). Volunteering masculinities in search and rescue work; Is there ‘a place for girls on the team’? Gender, Work & Organization, 28(2) pp. 558–574.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12592

Abstract

This article explores performative enactments of gender at work in a UK‐based Search and Rescue voluntary organisation, QuakeRescue . Based on ethnographic research, we analyse how gender is performatively constituted in this male‐dominated setting, focusing in particular on how hegemonic masculinity is enacted through bodies, physicality, and technical competence. Our findings show how performative acts, predicated on essentialist understandings of superior masculine bodies, constructed femininity as limited, deficient and Other, legitimising the assigning of mundane, routine tasks to women volunteers. By endorsing women's presence, albeit as low‐status team members, there was sufficient recognition to ensure that sedimented practices of ‘doing gender’ at QuakeRescue remained largely unquestioned. We conclude that hegemonic masculinity predicated on bodily practices in male‐dominated workspaces is oppressive in its effects, and until this is recognised and acknowledged, transformative potential is limited.

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