Eriksen, C. (2014). Gendered risk engagement: challenging the embedded vulnerability, social norms and power relations in conventional Australian bushfire education. Geographical Research, 52 (1), 23-33.
Building on an identified need for gender-sensitive approaches to bushfire risk engagement, this paper examines outreach initiatives specifically targeting women's bushfire awareness and preparedness in southeast Australia. The results of an online survey, together with two workshops with community engagement staff and volunteers from rural fire services, convey perceived aids and obstacles for engaging women. Efforts at engaging women with bushfire risk management are shown to align squarely with efforts to create a more gender-balanced and gender-sensitive environment for bushfire brigade volunteers. The paper demonstrates how gender roles and gendered norms are reinforced by the patriarchal structures that shape everyday life and the on-the-ground application of official outreach policy and practice. This, in turn, results in heightened dimensions of gendered vulnerability to bushfire. Three key pointers to more successful engagement emerge from the analysis: the benefits of hands-on experience and practice, the strength of networks and the imperative of supportive learning environments.