Finally, after 10 years, Michelle Maliniak won her battle against the Tucson Fire Department for sexual harassment. It’s amazing how long this took.
Despite 21 years on the job, Ms. Maliniak never got the respect she deserved from her male counterparts. It wasn’t enough to prove she could handle the work. It wasn’t enough she worked twice as hard to prove she could handle the work. She endured sexual innuendos disguised as pranks, her car was vandalized, and offensive and degrading notes were strategically placed for her to see.
Almost everything Ms. Maliniak went through I experienced over 30 years ago. Are men still so threatened by a strong woman able to hold her own? Sad, but apparently true. No wonder fewer than 1% of firefighters nationwide are women.
For those women who take on these jobs, stay strong. Don’t give up what you love. If you do, then the men who made you quit win. Don’t let them win.