The prevalence of female members of staff in the security industry has varied greatly over the years. I have spoken to many that were working before the SIA had their standard license introduced and those working post the introduction. Their stories of how they were received as a door supervisor and what the connected expectations were, are as varied as the personalities performing this ever-increasing important role.
Personally, I was brought up to believe that Job roles and the functionality within them, are based solely on the person’s ability to perform the given tasks associated with it. This in my mind would never come down to the gender of the applicant, in as much as it also would not be based on age, sexual orientation and race. There are however some caveats to these points, especially when looking at Door supervision. You may look to have a language represented at a venue, or an understanding of a particular culture and its values. With these points in mind then, it was a surprise for me to find that some women are still having issues when working as door supervisors, from both the general public and also colleagues. I decided that I would have a delve into this issue and build some opinion on its cause and effect.
The general perception from the public it would seem is far behind where the industry believes it is, this is proven with the surprised reaction that greets a hospitable door supervisor when opening a door, or giving a warm greeting on entry to a venue, the comments of “the most polite doorman I’ve met in years” or “you’re a really nice person”. These statements (although nice to hear) go in some way to show that the image of the “bouncer” really does need some polishing still, to a large proportion of the night time economies people, we are still viewed as the angry big guy that will throw you out from a venue when misbehaving. This outdated view is a little saddening, at Radius we have been investing in the training and hospitality element of our staff at every opportunity. There is talk in some circles that this point is now “done to death” however, this thought is obviously not shared by some proportion of the public and needs further work, reversing years of opinions and experiences clearly takes more time and effort.
The size and shape of door supervisors (profile), is a hotly contested area for many reasons. Some venues and their management team are always looking for the biggest people in stature, sometimes overlooking the fact that even larger people can be incompetent door supervisors. This physicality impression I believe is why sometimes women get overlooked, which is very short sighted. Ask any person’s opinion on which sex is more capable when deciding to draw a heated debate to a swift conclusion.. we are agreed then! The balance of a person is by far the most valued personality trait and this should be the primary consideration in any security role.
Having a woman on your venue in this still male dominated field of work, goes some way to prove that the management are forward thinking and have some appreciation of how to increase proportional representation within their circle of influence at least. Some Female customers are delighted to see their gender represented, rightly believing that this would give them some understanding when interacting with the door staff in a manner that usually goes begging when dealing with an all-male team. In a perverse way this can also cause issues with other women which view a woman on a door as some sort of statement of intent, or confrontational perhaps. This is true in other professions where there is a dominance of one gender, who would think twice about a male Midwife or a female Heavy goods Mechanic? Whilst these statements are thought provoking, the same can be said for the male members of a door team. The alpha male mindset, I’m bigger/stronger/fitter/more intelligent than the next man, causes issues across the spectrum (especially when you add alcohol). That sense that a heavily built male entering a venue needs to be kept an eye on, is a preconception based on other times this occurred and could be correct, however equally it could be that this person is of no concern at any time, and actually the slim male that entered before him, that has recently had some bad news is the one to watch.
Does this Male/Female debate go further though? We have had thousands of years where the Gender roles in each situation or set of circumstances have been very clearly defined, and whilst I’m not looking to use this point as an excuse, there are obviously issues as to how we perceive ourselves and our roles in society in a larger context. What do I mean by this? Well historically men have defaulted into the provider category, this in turn moves into a defence mechanism, trying to prevent harm to our families and friends. Women historically have had the home role to fulfil and being Mothers to our children, nurturing and educating. Whilst these points are moving further away from being gender specific in recent history and quite rightly too, we are all still pulling against years of pre-programming. Generation after generation of learned behaviour and genetic inheritance is going to take some shifting. Perhaps this is where some male door supervisors take their protective roles too far with female colleagues, this can then in turn be viewed as a weakness as the team look to absolve all exposure to risk for their female counterparts, rather than concentrating on the issue, risk or threat? Instead they should be respectful of the fact that this woman has chosen to be involved in the door supervisor role, fully understands the issues and is happy to be there. This does not mean we should stop striving to achieve this equality though, it’s a continuing educational piece to reinforce learning over time that anyone willing to learn can be an asset to a team. It is far more important to find where their place is within that team, working to the strengths of the individual, to achieve the larger goal.
So back to this door supervisor question. If we agree that the challenges and situations are so varied because of the diversity in customers, then we also need this diversity on the door. The greater the pool of knowledge, experience and expertise, then the greater the understanding, empathy and professionalism in dealing with the endless issues and items faced by our Door teams and security people nationwide.
Let’s move in the correct way, towards a progressive future, where our capabilities always come before gender