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To study gender-based violence among first responders in training and workplace settings

A researcher at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has been awarded a $30,000 grant to study gender-based violence among first responders during training and in the workplace.

Jennifer Jasper, Program Director for JIBC’s Centre for Conflict Resolution, was one of 32 recipients of a total of $933,571 in Knowledge Synthesis Grants on the subject of gender-based violence. The grants are a partnership between the Government of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and Women and Gender Equality Canada.

Jasper’s project will systematically explore available evidence related to gender-based violence in police, fire and paramedic training and work environments and how that might impact gender diversity in these professions. Statistics examining gender equity in these historically male-dominated, hierarchical organizational structures demonstrate that the percentages of members who self-identify as other than male are very low – for paramedics it is approximately 36 per cent, police around 22 per cent and for firefighters less than 5 per cent.

Multiple initiatives have been launched over many years to improve gender diversity within these fields but have had little impact on these numbers. In addition, the education and recruitment models of these professions depend heavily on peer evaluation, where bias, power imbalances, stereotypes and gendered violence may be introduced.

“At this point, it is unclear what is known about gender-based violence in first responders and how that might impact initiatives to promote gender equality within these fields,” said Jasper. “I’m excited to work with my research team to synthesize the available evidence so that we can better understand aspects of training and work culture that influence performance, retention and succession as well as mental health and safety for first responders. This review will inform JIBC’s work on building curriculum and educational models that are culturally aware and ensure students meet the required competencies.”

Analysis of the available research will look at developing an understanding of the prevalence and experience of gender-based violence in these professions, in both work and training environments. It will also explore the root causes and risk factors of such violence, to provide information to guide policy, make changes and efficiently develop related research agendas.

”JIBC is proud to be leading research that could ultimately improve the work and lives of those in the first responder community,” said Colleen Vaughan, Vice-President, Academic. “This project aims to do just that while helping such employers understand and overcome the barriers to increased gender diversity and equity in those fields all of us rely on to assist us in our time of need. I look forward to seeing the results of this work.”  

The objective of the research project is to advance our fundamental understanding of how gender-based violence negatively impacts the gender diversity of first responders, and to increase awareness around the root causes and risks factors of training and working in these spaces. In addition to the scholarly benefits, this research will provide evidence to inform policy and initiatives to make first responder organizations more equitable.

The results of the research project will be posted on the SSHRC website in early 2024.


Want to make a difference every day? The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) provides the education and training to let people to do just that, being there to support others when their health, safety or property is at stake.

JIBC is a public, post-secondary institution focused on justice and public safety professionals at all stages of their careers in fields including law enforcement, firefighting, paramedicine, security and emergency management. Complementing these programs, the Institute provides instruction in related areas such as conflict resolution, mediation, leadership and counselling, offers graduate studies in cybersecuritybusiness intelligence, and tactical criminal analysis, and conducts applied research in the justice and public safety fields.