What assumptions do you make about who’s in charge?
Do you instinctively direct your gaze to the person, usually a bloke, who speaks the loudest, or is the biggest in the room?
In most situations we can readjust our gaze and our mindsets to pay attention to the person we’re told is in charge – even if it is a woman who’s language is more indirect, whose tone is softer, who’s style is more consensus driven rather than combative. But what happens in an emergency?
I’ve been musing on senior women in the armed or emergency services, who have the authority to assume control of an escalating high risk incident. It could be a fire, armed robbery, terrorist attack or some other significant event. What happens when we revert to our instincts and automatically respond to the person who looks and sounds like he should be in charge? How might that affect a community’s response? How might that endanger lives?