Female Firefighter Fitness Rule Changes – To Misunderstand What “Talent Pool” Means

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Imagine the following. We decide for some reason or other that there should be many more male midwives. We have decided that the absence of male midwives means that we are missing the ability to draw from the widest talent pool possible. We also note that men more generally are uncaring brutes, entirely blind to such things as empathy, emotion and caring, meaning that the current rules selecting those who aid at that most important moment in a mother’s life need to be changed. So that we can have uncaring brutes there as well. Thus we do so – we’ll select more of those who shout “Shut up and push, you bitch!” in the name of diversity and recruiting from the wider talent pool.

To the extent that we’re not already doing this in our NHS midwife selection process we might not think this all that great an idea. It’s entirely possible that a near entirely female dominated profession needs to be opened up to male candidates. We can all imagine that there are social barriers to empathic snowflakes taking part in this very definition of a feminine moment. But we would think that ignoring the qualities required for the job is not in fact expanding the talent pool.

We all rather grasping that “talent pool” means those capable of doing the basic requirements of the job. Those who have that and are currently excluded, sure, work to recruit from them. Those who don’t have that basic ability then we don’t actually want to be recruiting from them at all.

Fitness tests for female fire fighters could be reviewed because of lack of women, say HM inspectors If fitness tests mean that women who would be good firefighters aren’t becoming firefighters then sure, go for it. If fitness tests mean that women who would not become good firefighters do not then the current tests are working admirably – they’re restricting entrance to those who have the talent required.

Fitness tests for women entering the fire service may need to be reviewed because there are so few female firefighters, according to HM inspectors. Just 5.7 per cent of firefighters are women, which is “too low,” said Zoe Bellingham, HM Inspector of fire and rescue services. “Most fire services are not attractive employers to wide swathes of their communities so they are not accessing the widest talent pool possible,” she said. “Are selection tests creating a barrier?”

Staff in more than half the fire services they inspected told them they felt the recruitment standards had already been quietly “lowered to ensure more female applicants were successful.”

A basic requirement is to be able to throw Granny over a shoulder and climb down a ladder. It’s called a Fireman’s Lift for a reason. Given the innate gender differences in musculature – upper body strength especially – this is something more likely to be found in men than women. The requirements of the job militate against an equal distribution across genders in the workforce. More importantly, in the desired talent pool from which we draw that workforce.

The basic misundertanding here is about the meaning of that phrase “talent pool”. This is not, for anything at all, the general population. It’s the group of people who have both the necessary talent and also the necessary desire. Something that simply isn’t equally distributed across gender for a certain number of jobs and occupations. There really are times when male greater tolerance of risk, or upper body strength, are going to skew matters. Just as there are those times – say primary school teacher, midwife – when female attributes are going to come to the fore.

All of which has absolutely nothing at all to do with any one individual and their fitness for a task. But when averaged out over the population we’re simply not going to see equal outcomes in everything.

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Jonathan HarstonMatt RyanBarksintheCountryDavid MurphyLeo Savantt Recent comment authors
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Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

I wonder whether the people who espouse the requirement to draw from the “talent pool” consider themselves to be within or outwith the pool?

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Here’s an entirely speculative scenario. No relationship to real life is claimed. You have a job/profession that is entirely male. The first few women who have the ambition to try it and the gumption to overcome their natural limitations and meet whatever requirements there are, they get a little reaction from some of the blokes but learn to muck in and are grudgingly accepted. Then women see that and want to join but need the tests adjusted. When that happens the proportion of women goes up and they ask for concessions, no swearing, no farting, time off for kids school… Read more »

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan
David Murphy
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David Murphy

No its not, I have worked in IT for forty years in several countries and numerous companies and industries, from startups to major corporations, as programmer, BA, QA and project manager – never heard the term used anywhere.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

You got me. Since you’ve covered every possible part of IT with your experience I’m obviously making it up. Even faked the web site for the sake of a throw away comment on here.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

If, and I hope it will never happen, I were to become trapped in a burning building I would care not one jot as to the gender of my rescuer. I wouldn’t even care if they had offended somebody on social media with hurty words. I would care for one thing and one thing only, that my rescuer could rescue me. In all serious the drive for equality of gender will be the death of quality. Close to 95% of work related deaths are male, do we want more women to die so that we shall all be more equal?… Read more »

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

You are part of the non-woke problem. I’d rather drown than have a RNLI volunteer with a sexist mug pull me from the sea.

You have to be willing to sacrifice for the right thing.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

As usual, Viz is there before you: comment image?auto=webp&s=bfb6e83528ff86320c87f828c6bef3a64430fd3f

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Appreciate the insight, now I get it.

Preferring my own survival and indeed anyone else’s over equality, I am just too selfish for the modern world.

Sadly being a rather old dog mending my ways is rather unlikely.

BarksintheCountry
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BarksintheCountry

Has anyone taken a quick look at the job requirements used by the NHS to hire midwifes? Probably discriminatory beyond imagination.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

The fitness tests are not eliminating people who would be good firefighters, by its very definition it’s eliminating people who *wouldn’t* be good firefighters. It’s like Einhoven University deciding that eliminating engineering applicants on the basis of brainpower is unfairly eliminating people that don’t pass the brainpower test, so in order to recruit those brainpower failures to a brainpower job, they’re going to elimate people on not-brainpower instead.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

We laugh at the ancient Chinese Imperial Civil Service recruiting applicants based on poetry-writing skills instead of administrative skills, but that is what we are fast-forwarding our society towards.