The president of the United Women’s Firefighters recently wrote a letter to the Brooklyn federal judge in which she claimed that women are so underrepresented in the firefighting world that the organization is considering a lawsuit against the FDNY for discrimination. But some claim the fact that there are just 32 women in the FDNY has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with physical ability.A reporter for The New York Post said that the lack of women fighting fires is based “…on the biological fact that the vast majority of women are not built to carry 100 pounds of gear.” Many people quoted in her article expressed concern and astonishment that a skinny, little woman might soon be trying to carry them out of a burning building. Apparently, these people have been looking at too many men’s magazines and not enough at the general population.
One way to increase the number of chick firefighters is to change the physical requirements for the job. Some claim the fitness tests don’t reflect what happens in the field and are too focused on upper body strength. Advocates for chick firefighters think the FDNY should change the test so it is focused on overall strength, rather than performance of irrelevant and difficult skills—like jumping over brick walls. Tests were changed in the 1980s to focus on speed rather than strength in an effort to attract women.
I think they should go this route. After all, they changed the job name from “fireman” to “firefighter” for a reason. What do you think?