Hey girls, glad to have a meeting place where we can discuss and share. So I thought that I would get more trouble from the old timers when I joined, but they've been very mature and nice. It has been the young guys that got on after me that seem to be all full of attitude. I am only the 2nd female to be on the dept in their 125 year history. I am wondering if you all have any tips for me? I always feel like I have to work 200% harder than the other guys because I will always be under scrutiny. I do want to move towards a higher position and a leadership position but I am unsure how to do that when many times, I feel like the equal oppurtunity mascot who no one takes seriously. Many times I feel coddled and like the higher ups see me as more of a risk than an assett to the organization. I feel that I would have alot to bring if any one would let me. Maybe some of you more experienced ladies can weigh in on this? I know that I can't be the only person going through this. Thanks

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i've learned that you just have to ignore what they say or do. having a woman be able to do the job as good if not better cuts at their pride. i guess it kind of makes men feel masculine. idk. i just prove that i am fit for the job and i can do anything that they can. that is pretty much all you can do...and try to get in and be "one of the guys" with them.
hi, i am the only girl to be hired full time at my dept. it is difficult in the begining butit does get easier i promise, it took a while but once i proved that i was capiable of doing the job i was accepted in the "good ole boys " club. i am on track to make captian in two more years (hopefully)...just hang in there they will come around it may take more time with some than others. the one thing i can say i was never coddled they tried thier best to make me quite or get me fired ...now they are my family and we are all very close...hope this helps
Hey Megan... unfortunately you will always feel this to some degree. There is always going to be one, or more, who will treat you like this or make you feel like this. I am fulltime, on a department of over 1000, less than 2% women (there's 12 of us, 8 of us active right now, 3 on my shift and we're spread out over the city and never see each other). I am at a station where I get along well with the boys, but now and then there's a comment that will drive me crazy. The capt is respectful, but a little hesitant to let me drive. You have to take the bull by the horns. I was driving the pump the other day, just to the store, we got a call, Capt starts to speak and I took a chance and said, "I got it, I know where that is" It worked in my favour, I made there quickly and safely. You sometimes have to let them know you can do it.
I have found that keeping my head down and just working is the best way. And you're right, it seems to be the younger guys who have more issue than the older guys... odd isn't it? The older guys will see you work and realize that you deserve to be there, while the younger bucks will see you as the person who too their buddy's job. I have that discussion a lot, and remind them it took me 6 years to get hired. I was 65th on the list before the interview and finished top ten. So basically, they can shove it! haha! There will always be guys who don't like you, they won't even give you a chance. Don't bother with them unless you have to. There is nothing saying you have to like everyone, hell, you don't even have to respect everyone, you just have to be able to work with everyone. Some days that's the toughest thing you will do at work, some days it's a piece of cake. Roll with it. :)

As for leadership, just follow along your departments SOP/SOG's for promotions etc. If you have just started, give it time, you have a lifetime to get there. I won't even have the opportunity it write (we write exams here for promotions) for another eight years and even then it's just for the experience. I won't place high enough on the list (years of service plus mark) until about 12-15 years from now even if I write a perfect exam. Being a buck is okay, take the role and do it well.

Just remember, project confidence, when the going gets tough, head down and keep moving forward, be yourself and don't let those who don't like you hold you back. Everyone will have their opinion on you and you just have to remind yourself the only opinion that matters is your own (oh and of course your capt and chiefs.. haha)! Keep at it, Equality is a long hard road ahead, we may never see it... but now and then you'll do things better, faster, or smarter.. and when you do, just grin!! :)

Take care Megan! :)
Hey Spanner, Thanks so much for taking the time to reply in detail. I guess that I will just have to keep on keepin on. Also, I am usually the type to keep my head down and shut up and ignore ppls sh*t but I think that I am going to start speaking up more often when the brand new probies get bucky and start flapping their jaws. I don't know why for some reason, they think that I deserve any less respect that they give any of the other senior members. I spoke up in meeting the other night and the same ppl shoot me down and roll their eyes with out even trying to hear my valid point. I rarely speak up or contribute unless I have a valid point. I'm venting, cuz grrr they piss me off sometimes...Anyways, Thanks.
Hey Courtney, thanks for replying. The other female on my dept. came before me and was gone before I got on. Also, she did not make a good impression on some of the guys, so I think that they thought that I was going to be just like her. So I have had to do alot of work just proving that I wasn't like her.
I went thru this on my first department...the "oldtimers" didn't cut me any slack...I actually had to pull a 300 LB guy out of a burning building BY MYSELF to "prove" to them I could do the job better than them!!! Ignore them if you can, but always let your actions speak louder than your words!! Two years after that, I voted the Assistant Chief of the Fire Department...and the two "oldtimers" were the only two no votes...I had 20 yes votes!!! As cocky and full of themselves as the younger crowd can be, they will recognize talent!! And you seem to have a good head on your shoulders!!! Keep up the good work, and stay safe everyone!!!!!
Courtney, I have recently heard from one of the FFs that the reason that I am not included in social outings is because the FFs girlfriends' and wives' think that I am trying to steal their men and don't understand/aren't comfortable with the idea of a female FF. Puhleeeese... I thought that if anyone would be enlightened, it would be the women but I guess not. They are too busy feeling threatened and unsure of their relationships. I am at a place right now where the guys c*ck off to me and the GFs hate me, all for the sole reason of me being female. I am just going to keep my nose to the ground, keep learning and training, and do my job. Things can only get better from here.
Hey Sheri, thanks for taking the time to reply. Thats horrible that your dept. did that to you. No person should have to carry/drag/move in any way, a 300 lb person by themselves. Way to go on the promotion. What I have a problem with regarding the cocky people is, yes you may know more about something than myself or another person, but rather than keeping it to yourself so that you can be smug and act disapproving, why not share the knowledge with us if you have so much of it? There are plenty of people whom I would like to say this to. I just want to come and do my job and have a good time, but there are plenty of people who come looking for a fight. Which I don't understand, why wouldn't you choose brotherhood, comraderie, laughs over smugness, discord, discontent?
Hi, I can't say that i am all that experienced, i've only been in the fire service for a year. i am the only female interior firefighter that is active- sort of- we have another female that was interior but she is currently the safter officer so she can't go in. she has been a member for 25 yrs and has shared alot with me, but she is ready to slow down and ease out of it. the other female usually only does ems. most of the guys are very good to me, they never give me a hard time. i know that there are some that think that women don't belong there, but they don't bother me about it. so, i am pleasant and nice to everyone. they do tease me, but i tease back. you have to be able to handle the teasing and be able to give it back. don't freak out at every fart and burp. that's the way they test us. if we go crazy with the equality and sexual harassment everytime they tell a dirty joke, they won't like us. but you can also draw a line and say "please don't talk like that around me." and that is usually ok. i know that sounds contradictive, but it is the wording that you use. don't say "that dirty joke is sexual harrassment and i'm going to write you up!!!" it's ok to prove yourself, it's good for the ego. there is nothing wrong with working hard and having the chief/captain-who-ever, say "yeah we have a woman, and she is the hardest worker we have". i have taken classes (and passed) and worked my butt off at scenes and trainings, and they now know that i am as good as them, maybe not as physically strong but i am good at what i can do. i have even received compliments from other departments, and a local paid city department (with no women ever) asked me to take their test and join them. how long have you been there? are you paid or volunteer?
Megan,
for themost part, it was a good department...I should have also said the reason I had to "prove" myself more than anyone...My Father was the Chief of that department. A lot of the "oldtimers" thought I was being handed a "easy ticket". Hence, me being a little...stubborn(?) and bullheaded at times. My Father tried to get me to be a little less sensitive about what they would say, but I just don't always like to let them have the better of me!!! They did come around after they saw that I had a good head on my shoulders, and letting your knowledge and stature speak for you are the best ways to prove yourself. I was a little to young to realize it then, but hindsight is alwys 20/20!!! Anyway, thatnks for the reply and as always...Stay safe!!!
I thought I did but now I'm not so sure :( but I still respond because I like what I do.
Hi Ladies. I went through a lot of the same type of thing. It took a long time to earn the respect of my crew (I still work at the 200% capacity), I had issues not only with the other GF's and wives, but the other female member. She was jealous that I was around 'her boys'. I started having BBQ's and initiating other social events inviting the whole FD and spouses. This did ease the tension a bit, but I still have several women that are insecure in their relationships and assume that I am just trying to 'move in' on their men. BTW, this only happens on my volunteer department. I am the only oilfield / blowout / well control female firefighter in my region and while we don't socialize outside of the job as much as the VFD does, I have never run into the same jealousy problem.

I found early on that there were many women ON departments that were very competitive with and ignorant to me. I merely knuckled down and worked even harder. It's made me a better firefighter and a better person. I am a woman and I don't ever try to diminish that fact (not that I wear make up and have my hair coiffed on the job). I simply conduct myself with the dignity, pride and honour that ANY woman in our position should.

Hold your heads high, be proud of what you have accomplished!

Stay Low, Stay Safe!

Carrie.

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