Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Good Men

The stories keep coming out.  Women, firefighters and others, are still being harassed and discriminated against while working in the government agencies.

This is nothing new.  As a rookie firefighter in the late '80s, I saw it, and kept seeing it throughout my career.  From the men who would stand in front of me at briefings, refusing to move so I could see the map, the overhead who would address my male trainee instead of me, to the crew boss on my second fire who told me I should take a male crewmember's creepy comments as a "compliment," it was out there.  Many women had it much worse, with actions committed against them that were criminal.

But this is for the good men.  The ones who gave me a chance early in my career, and didn't treat me differently than anyone else, as long as I could do the work.  The ones who didn't judge all women by one who might have failed.  The ones who, although they were skeptical about female firefighters (and believe me, we knew you were), didn't show it in their actions.  The smokejumper who parachuted into my first big fire as an incident commander and didn't take over, even though he easily could have.  The men who worked all night alongside me on the fireline and treated me as a sister and an equal.

Change is slow.  There are still old boys' clubs, people who will talk over women at meetings, and those who think it's okay to make crude comments.  Those of us who started long ago learned to keep our heads down, work hard, and not to show emotions. We knew that would help the women of the future who were coming up behind us.

But it's easy to get into man-bashing, and the good men are out there.  I'd like to think there are more of them than the other kind.  So to all the men who helped me along the way, I appreciate you.  You offered me a job, showed me how to fight fire, and treated me the same as any other firefighter. Thanks, guys.
At a spike camp in 1997.  Thanks jumpers for the parachute.  What a mess! I was there for 21 days straight.





6 comments:

  1. As a female civil engineer I feel the same way. I've been treated as a lesser person than my male counterparts, but I've also had great male coworkers that stood up for me.

    Once a man came in my office looking for information. I gave him the information he wanted but then the man asked if he could talk to my supervisor. (He actually wanted to talk to a man - just didn't want to come out and say it). One of my male coworkers happened to walk by, so this man asked him the exact same question - and got the exact same answer from my coworker. After the man left, I told my coworker what the customer said to me. My coworker replied "You should have told him you were the boss! I'd have backed you up!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had this happen too. I had someone once walk past me and to one of my seasonal male employees to ask a question. And this person knew I was the boss!

      Delete
  2. At an agency board meeting, one of the outside directors looked around the room until his eyes landed on a female -- me -- and said he needed a cup of coffee. I sat for a moment, thinking of what possible responses I could make and keep my job, and then got up and got the coffee.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this post, made me a bit teary-eyed, and how you looked for the positive, and found it, in the midst of what often was quite negative. We often forget the good men on the job. Like you and your readers, I have had both types in my working life. We hope it is changing but in some professions, it is still too slow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of men just don't see it, unfortunately.

      Delete

I try to answer all comments, so comment away!