Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Jobs for the Girls

It’s taken me awhile to write this as I became quite despondent about the Domestic Violence Support Service providers.  Previous posts had expressed a hope that there was a sea of change, that the policy makers were beginning to recognise that Domestic Violence is NOT a Gender-specific crime, but a crime perpetrated by males and females with members of both genders also victims. 

Local councils could help to affect change but I have now learnt that our elected representatives may try and introduce new policies, but their successful implementation depend on the local authorities’ paid staff who may also have their own agenda.

Sometime ago, I met with my local council and received assurances that, following our meeting, they would be more gender-inclusive in their support services.  My optimism was further fuelled when my local newspaper approached me for my opinion when they’d received word that my local council would be creating a job that would be reaching out to male victims of domestic violence.

So what happened?  For a long time, the job wasn’t advertised anywhere.  I contacted the chairman of the council to ask why and he informed me that the role would be an internal appointment.  He also kindly said that should no internal candidate be found, then the job vacancy would be opened up to all.  If that happened, he would let me know and true to his word, a month later he did just that.

I applied, but this is not the rant of someone who missed out.  I was disappointed I admit not even to be called for an interview.  When the selection period had passed me by, I contacted the council and asked for feedback as to why my application wasn’t considered.

I heard….nothing.   It took me several requests and five months later, I finally received the feedback I’d asked for.  In fact, by this time, I’d learnt that the job had gone to a long-term council employee with many years in administration but no experience of Domestic Violence.  My requests to the Human Resources Department for feedback where constantly ignored.  It was only when I contacted the councillor who I originally met that the paid staff sprang into action.  Within half an hour of speaking to my contact, I’d got a response at last.

As ‘including men’ had been a key part of the advertised job specification, I also asked how this was being developed.  Of course, I didn’t get any straight answers.  The Feedback received was the standardised . We received applications from many highly-qualified candidates who unfortunately did not meet the internal criteria set by the council.’ 

As for services for men,  ‘We are networking with all stakeholders to provide best service.’  Seeing no men’s group or support services existed in the group of stakeholders, forget it – it’s a case of same old, same old.

There are many fields where the male gender is underrepresented, but everyone is afraid to acknowledge this.  Industries that are male-dominated are frowned upon and we often hear of political parties having female-only shortlists in order to produce another female MP for that constituency.  I believe that balance is best in all fields as men and women have separate natural skills and giftings with both sets required for well-being. 

Good male role-models are required but where do you find them?  Not in schools, where the majority of staff are female.  In this fatherless age, imagine the societal impact if there were more positive male role-models in our schools.  The care industry is predominantly female.  There is a need for more male workers, it is not healthy for service users.

The same goes for the counselling industry.  More balance needs to be found.  I have been training as a counsellor.  I ended up being the only man in the classroom.  On a couple of occasions, I was absent.  On my return, one of my peers said to me, “I’m glad you’re here today.  The class is always a lot calmer when you’re here.” 

There may be areas that require more female staff, but the same is true but never spoken about for men.  It’s all about Gender Balance.

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