Gendered Safety

Gendered Safety

imageI learned this week of the Mum’s for Safety campaign (Lend Lease Mums For Safety).

Just when I thought safety could get no more stupid we now section off part of the population and deem Mums ‘the voice of reason and the one who knows best’. How do organisations get away with such sexist, gender stereotyping? Ah yes, because it done in the name of safety. Safety is sacred, no one can criticise Safety.

The idea that Mum’s are ‘the voice of reason and the one who knows best’ is straight out of the paternalism copybook (( What other gendered groups must now be less a voice for reason and now less caring for safety??? Are not Dads for safety? Grandparents for safety? Children for safety? LGBTQI people for safety? Why has a group been singled out for safety as if safety is not everyone’s business? Yes, lets drum up the selective mythology/symbol of motherhood and anchor it to safety.

The last thing we need in safety is gendered stereotypes and a preoccupation with safety as if it is a gendered activity. Poor little boy, you need mommy to keep you safe? This is the message. Ah, mommy please keep me from harms way, Hazardman is not here, I might slip and fall.

All this campaign does is reinforce all the masculinist stereotypes in the safety industry. Look at poor old David he needs Mum Judy to ‘keep him out of trouble’ and Tony needs Alicia to ‘keep him on the right track’ in life. Poor little boys, I wonder when they will grow up?

And this won an award? Of course, to match the Dumb Ways to Die Campaign ( When you have no vision for safety, this is what comes next.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

12 Replies to “Gendered Safety”

  1. John, when dumb down is your ethic then anything like this will emerge. Just a dot of critical thinking would tell you that this is problematic from many other perspectives, but then again, traditional safety is only consumed with itself.

  2. I like this part: “…The index is Australia’s definitive national benchmark …”

    It said we’re tops. It’s the definitive index. There’s no better.

    Hang on a minute.

    We believe in diversity… except when it comes to diversity indexes – we used one and it said we’re great so that’s settled!

  3. “Client design”…

    It’s very odd. Maybe it stems from a promotional view of safety? From a view that behavioral flaws are the causes of accidents. Stop being naughty.

    I don’t think safety needs advertising about potential victims being naughty because it is not a way to systematically change.

    But, on advertising as an approach…

    This one has the hallmarks of being what a relative called “client design”.

    This was explained to me when I asked this relative – who was deeply involved in advertising – what to make of really strange ads. My question was about what on earth were the ones like that were rejected given the one that went to air?

    The answer was that the ones that did not get used would probably have been quite good; much better than the one that went to air.

    He said that when you see a really odd advertisement it is usually the client’s idea. You try to talk them out of it but can’t!

  4. An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff – Adlai Stevenson

    1. Such strategies retard maturity and endorse mythologies that plague the industry. Since when did gender determine safety? Just look at the semiotics, OMG, why are women in LL not calling out this sexist stuff?

  5. In a construction safety role, as a female, I am treated and expected to be both like a nurse and a mother.

    1. Suzanne, a campaign like this simply reinforces such projection and endorsed that the naughty boys don’t have to care because Mum is not around. Now Mum is made the hero and safety is only her business.

  6. John, I see this campaign as endorsing and reinforcing all the problems the industry has in trying to be professional. I can’t imagine any real profession doing such with gender stereotyping, even the suggestion would get smashed.

  7. In an industry that has no idea of discourse or semiotics, no wonder nothing changes when one views the endorsement of stereotypes as worthy of an award.

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