Good news and bad news about women taking on firefighting

I stumbled on an article this morning in the Salt Lake Tribune about how efforts to recruit more women into wildland firefighting jobs made by the U.S. Forest Service and former women firefighters seems to be working. While the average number of women in these jobs nationwide is about 10% (which is 10x the number I found in my research), these efforts have bumped the percentages up significantly.

What great news! It was also heartening to read other women's perspectives on why they loved their fire jobs. They all touched on the reasons why I loved my job. The camaraderie, satisfaction, excitement, being outdoors...all of it.

I jumped to the comment section of the article because I wanted to add a few thoughts about my former fire career, and how good it was to hear more women were discovering all of the wonderful things about not only a job working in nature, but one filled with excitement, prestige, satisfaction and pride.

Reading through the comments first before posting, my stomach turned. Here were men bashing women, wondering why these women wanted to be "male", or if they were just filling a "women" quota, and other derogatory statements, including references to women envying and wishing they had a certain male piece of anatomy. Exactly the same kind of crap I used to hear over 30 years ago. These guys must feel their manhood is being threatened.

When I became a firefighter, I did NOT take on the job because I wanted to be a man or to because I wanted to be better than the men; I took the job because I thought I would like the work. I loved my job, did my job quite well as a matter-of-fact, and resent any man telling me that I was trying to be a "man" for choosing that career path.

To women in men's jobs: Stick with it! Stand your ground! Please don't ever let men put you down or make you quit. Some day I hope we will no longer have to prove our abilities. May that day come soon.