Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in Wildland Fire Management Must Be Addressed
Released December, 2016
• Sexual harassment and gender discrimination occur in workplaces around the world. While they affect both women and men, they appear to affect significantly larger portions of the female than the male workforce.
• Our survey confirmed that they are found in the wildland fire vocation as well.
• Of 342 respondents, 32 % reported observing incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace while 24 % reported having experienced it.
• Additionally, 54 % reported observing gender discrimination of others in the workplace and 44 % reported personally experiencing discrimination.
• These figures may be an underestimate, since sexual harassment and gender discrimination are typically underreported.
• The majority of respondents who experienced sexual harassment (64 %) or gender discrimination (60 %) did not report it.
• Reporting harassment experiences often does not improve and sometimes worsens the outcomes for the reporting person.
• Our survey indicated that those who reported being sexually harassed were supported by their manager 58 % of the time and by their organization 53% of the time, but rarely by external agencies or legal intervention.
• Those who reported gender discrimination received even less support, with managers being supportive only 28 % of the time, and organizations being supportive only 25 % of the time.
• Respondents described numerous impacts from the harassment and discrimination they experienced, including: negative repercussions for their career; feelings of depression, anger, or anxiety, and even mental health breakdowns; and substance abuse.
• We, the Association for Fire Ecology, are committed to promoting awareness about the issues revealed by this study among our members, the public, and the mass media.
• We strongly recommend additional training of fire management personnel and supervisors beyond what is currently provided on gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
• We strongly recommend the establishment of arm’s length reporting centers that are removed from the chain of command, where affected persons can report sexual harassment and gender discrimination, free from backlash within their working units.