WKU Instructor presents research on female leaders in occupational health and safety
- WKU College of Health and Human Services News
- Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023
Jacqueline Basham (pictured left), fellow in the WKU Center for Environmental and Workplace Health, and instructor in the Department of Public Health, recently presented research on "Female Leaders in Occupational Safety and Health" at the 2023 Board of Certified Safety Professionals Foundation's (BCSP) Research & Innovation Summit, a national conference.
The purpose of the study was to determine what challenges women serving in safety leadership positions face as part of their careers, and to identify potential interventions that could be used to increase the number of females working in the safety industry.
Basham’s research identified six barriers to the majority of participants. These included:
- Work hours and travel required
- Lack of formal education in the safety industry before beginning their career
- The low number of females overall in the safety industry
- Frequently having their authority questioned while performing their job
- A stigma of the safety industry not being for females
- Being young and inexperienced adding to frustrations in performing their job
Three major types of interventions were identified. These included:
- Resources including those related to childcare and maternity leave, financial support, and flexibility in scheduling
- Training including leadership training and specific occupational safety and health topics
- Support mechanisms including support from upper management, mentorship programs, and having the support of a safety team
Basham shared, “This research was important to me because I am passionate about occupational safety and health, as well as ensuring everyone is safe no matter their background. After seeing an article from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) about the low number of women in the safety field, and being a female in the industry myself, it made me want to understand how that influences women in the industry and how we could make it easier for other women to get into what I believe is a great career. It's also important that workers know they are represented. With almost half of the workforce being women, it is important that they feel represented in safety, and know their safety at work is important and acknowledged.”
Jacqueline Basham is an Associate Safety Professional who is currently a student in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Western Kentucky University. She also serves as an instructor at Western Kentucky University in the Department of Public Health where she is the program director for the Environmental and Occupational Health Science (EOHS) undergraduate program. More information about her research can be found here.