I recently met with a fire chief in the area. During the meeting the topic of females in the fire profession came up. For many organizations, there are only a handful of female firefighters at most. Imagine being the female who goes to work every day knowing she is entering a male dominated profession.
Law enforcement faced the challenge of integrating females into the profession many years ago, and in some cases still struggle with the issue. These female firefighters are the new pioneers of today. They have the same job responsibilities of their male counterparts, but have to work harder to trail blazed the path for those females to follow. In many older stations, the buildings were not constructed with separate bathrooms or bunk spaces for men and woman. Besides the issues of building construction, they must still live and work within the male dominated fire culture. At what point is a joke or comment cross the line from being funny to harassment? How does a female stand up for herself as a person without being labeled a derogatory comment? These issues and many more will eventually be worked out. As society, and demographics of the workforce, changes more woman will enter the fire profession. The woman who work in the profession today are true pioneers with the grit of the woman who walked across the great plains in the 19th century. There are creating the path for the future and have earned the right to be called “Professional Firefighter.”