What’s so hard about writing a fire plan? The central role of gendered expectations in bushfire planning.
Parkinson, D. & Duncan, A.
Gender and Wildfire
Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience
Full Harvard Reference:
Parkinson, D. & Duncan, A. (2018). What’s so hard about writing a fire plan? The central role of gendered expectations in bushfire planning. Australian Journal of Emergency Management Monograph No. 3: 69.
In Australia, perceptions of men having greater bushfire mortality risk are overestimated (40% 1958- 2008 were female). Most female deaths are attributed to leaving too late. Alignment of gender roles with bushfire behaviour reflects social conditioning that denotes men as ‘protectors/providers’ and women as ‘nurturers’. Gendered expectations have high costs, and despite the proven risk of not having a fire plan, few have written one. Women escaped alone or with children, often in terrifying circumstances, or had limited autonomy, while it was men who were predominantly in fire trucks or refusing to leave. Terminology in attributing cause of death is highly gendered - women/passivity, men/action. This not only does not align with participants’ accounts, but also has implications for household bushfire planning. Understanding gender will demystify women’s and men’s motivations for wanting to stay and defend, or leave, and may allow logical examination of priorities in fire planning.