Who makes attractions safe?

Some of the women of F24 at lunch

There are many people involved in setting standards that make amusement rides and devices safe. The ASTM F24 standards are used in 19 countries, and counting. The committee has almost 900 members, and holds meetings three times annually. Meetings held in USA have almost 300 people participating in multiple concurrent sessions, literally poring over language used in standards to ensure that people following the standards will interpret the requirements as intended.

Committee F24 meetings consistently open with a round of introductions, welcome of new members, and at least two social receptions to encourage mingling. Special sessions are held to orient student participants to the process and assure them the industry wants to meet them. Yet, because of the recent growth and sheer size, it seemed to me that some people did not know other people with whom they had quite a lot in common.

One sub-group that is of importance is the Women of F24. There are an impressive number of women in leadership roles in their respective firms: senior executives, owners, technical leads, and so on. There is no need for young women pursuing this industry to think they must do it alone. The student delegations to F24 have included impressive gender balance, and the future looks rosy. However, everyone needs networks to help them out through tougher times, and as trusted peers for quick resources and information.

At the recent meeting in San Diego, we organized a women’s networking lunch following the closing meeting.  Quite a few of the women had to catch flights earlier in the day and could not join us this time, but we had a fantastic session, with all of us getting to know one or more people better, and realizing how much we had in common.

We all agreed that the attractions industry had for the most part been remarkably receptive to women, thanks to some fantastic male allies as well as other women. At the same time, it was reassuring to know we were not alone in the experiences doing things “women don’t do” earlier in our careers.

Any women attending the next F24 meeting in February should make sure they schedule their flight home late enough to stay for an extended Saturday lunch!

Photo [L to R]: Kathryn Woodcock, Assoc. Prof. at Ryerson University, Director of THRILL Lab; Linda Freeman, Senior Sales Engineer, Rockwell Automation; Franceen Gonzales, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Whitewater West Industries; Joelle Javier, Engineer-in-Training, Ontario Technical Standards and Safety Authority Amusement Devices and Elevating Devices (and THRILL Lab alumna); Cyndy Sypher, CEO, Sypher & Associates Field Engineering; Pam Armitage, Standards Manager, Disney Parks and Resorts; Nancy Medeiros, Regional Manager, Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit, State of California; Jennifer Halverson, President, Adventureworks; Kathy Fackler, President, SaferParks. Background scenery: Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego California.

Lunch sponsored by Garrett & Jensen and Sypher & Associates Field Engineering.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto's Ryerson University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (https://thrilllab.blog.ryerson.ca), and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.