Maree Boyle described an Australian ambulance service as a ‘masculinist organisation whose core business involves traditionally feminine work practices.’ The field of paramedicine has transformed in recent decades from what was an ambulance driving role, a trade that traditionally consisted of men, to a first responder role where highly trained professionals deliver specialist health care. During this transformation there has been significant growth in numbers of women qualifying and working as paramedics. Thus far, there has been little response from ambulance services and professional bodies regarding equity, diversity and inclusion within the industry. Furthermore, there is scant academic scholarship in the area. This chapter examines women’s experiences of sexual harassment in their roles as paramedics through two inquiries about sexual harassment inthe industry in Australia - The Commission to Examine Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment within Ambulance Victoria (2020) and the NSW Legislative Council Report on Emergency Services Agencies (2018). We use Joan Acker’s gendered organisations theory to thematically analyse the impact of the hegemonic masculine, neoliberal organisational culture on the sanctioning of sexual harassment within the industry. We consider the symbolism of hegemonic masculinity and how its relationship with the underlying ideology of neoliberalism emphasises aggressive individualism, competition, and the subjugation of women. This chapter considers how these combine to construct women and femininity as ‘other’, to exclude women from social networks and organisational hierarchies, and ultimately legitimise the harassment of women. Our analytical lens assesses traditional conservative gender perceptions and biases regarding gender roles in the profession and considers the impact of sexual harassment on women’s career progression, personal wellbeing and abilityto deliver high standard clinical practice. Preliminary reviews of the two inquiries about sexual harassment reveal that the paramedicine profession is embedded in a culture where sexual harassment is constructed as a norm. Acker’s gendered sub-structured framework assists in analysing persistent hedonistic cultural practices that result in sexism and the sexualisation of women in the workplace, and informs more broadly, the issue of professionalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender, Feminist and Queer Studies
Subtitle of host publicationPower, Privilege and Inequality in a Time of Neoliberal Conservatism
EditorsDonna Bridges, Clifford Lewis, Elizabeth Wulff, Chlesea Litchfield, Larissa Bamberry
ISBN (Print)9781032328294
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2023


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