Mountain View leads the way in hiring women firefighters, report finds | News

Otto I. Eovaldi

Less than 1 in 20 firefighters are gals across Santa Clara County, increasing thoughts of gender bias, discrimination and absence of inclusivity, in accordance to a report by the county’s Civil Grand Jury.

But one office acquired higher marks for bucking the craze and building strides to correct the problem in the ordinarily male-dominated field. The Mountain Look at Hearth Office has put both equally income and exertion into leveling the taking part in discipline in the latest many years, and has because attained 10% female representation within just its ranks — the highest in the county.

Unlike other fields where by gender parity is the target, national advocacy teams say females should really comprise 17% of the first responder workforce. Even in a place that touts itself as progressive and forward-imagining, on the other hand, the grand jury report notes that Santa Clara County fireplace departments have unsuccessful to ameliorate the imbalance, and woman firefighters remain grossly underrepresented in the field.

What is actually additional, the trouble is acquiring worse. Ladies manufactured up 5.2% of the firefighters in the county in 2009, which has due to the fact declined to 4.1%. In San Jose, female firefighters make up just 2% of the workforce.

The issue starts very long before likely recruits make it through the gauntlet of actual physical and written assessments. Of the 1,988 men and women who applied to be a firefighter in 2016, only 68 had been women. By the end of the recruitment procedure, none of people ladies ended up presented a task.

National surveys have uncovered only 20% of feminine firefighters grew up wanting to be a firefighter, when compared to 40% of men, and 85% reported acquiring distinct therapy due to their gender. The wide vast majority of women of all ages reported they encountered problems with ill-fitting products and feeling shunned or isolated at perform. Extra domestically, some women of all ages have noted that the wives of male firefighters are uncomfortable that their spouses are functioning much too carefully with female firefighters.

Though gender imbalance and discrimination are critical problems, fire departments also have an incentive to employ more girls, the report reported, citing several crisis phone calls that confirmed victims have been a lot more willing to interact with feminine firefighters, specially for the duration of some healthcare emergencies or in sexual assault incidents.

“Comforting victims is a pretty critical element of the career of a firefighter and the existence of a woman firefighter can – for some victims – enable defuse the trauma of the problem when a female firefighter is present,” the report stated.

Not like other departments in the county, Mountain Watch has built a concerted energy to hire extra woman firefighters. Considering the fact that 2015, the city has poured an annual $30,000 into boosting recruitment attempts and addressing the gender imbalance, which is done equally regionally and especially in Mountain Look at, in accordance to the report. A single of those people initiatives is the “She Can!” women’s empowerment party, held jointly with the Mountain Perspective Law enforcement Department, which was postponed very last 12 months thanks to COVID-19.

In 2019, the Mountain Watch Fireplace Section experienced an all-feminine fire crew doing work jointly for the initially time in the department’s historical past, which exploded on social media and drew countrywide interest.

The fireplace department’s spokesman, Robert Maitland, refused various requests by the Voice to converse to woman firefighters for this story. The city’s PIO, Lenka Wright, said the fireplace division is not equipped to “accommodate” any interviews, but that no firefighting staff will be allowed to communicate on their behalf to the media.

While Mountain View experienced little to answer for in responding to the Civil Grand Jury report’s suggestions previous thirty day period, city officers did dispute some of the findings. The report observed that all departments in Santa Clara County gave new woman recruits former male firefighter equipment on arrival, which is both of those unfair and potentially risky, and advocated for ending the follow. But Mountain Perspective personnel say new workers are all given custom made-equipped uniforms and gear prior to arriving at the station.

The report also identified that Mountain Look at had no gender-separated dorms at its hearth stations, but that just isn’t always the scenario. Mountain Look at has a few stations with several dormitories that can be assigned by gender, and the remaining two stations have partitions that break up the rooms for privateness.

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