The Harvard Business Review, which prides itself for its out of the box thinking, ventured a bit too far from the box on this one: “U.S. firefighters are overwhelmingly white and male,” the publication tweeted
, adding, “that needs to change.”
Author Corinne Bendersky, professor of management at UCLA, argues that the “stereotypically masculine” firefighter image of “brawn and courage” isn’t enough. They must also possess gentler, more feminine traits.
While she admits that fighting fires “requires climbing ladders, hauling hoses, and carrying victims from burning buildings,” she adds that only four percent of a firefighter’s job is spent actually fighting fires; 64 percent, on the other hand, is spent answering medical emergencies that require “intellectual, social, and emotional skills.”
Bendersky, hailed as an expert in workplace conflict, status, and justice in teams and organizations, laments that despite the small percentage of a firefighter’s time spent fighting fires, which requires courage and strength, only four percent career fighters are female.
But she has a solution. We should reframe “what it means to be a firefighter to emphasize the importance of legitimate, stereotypically feminine traits, like compassion,” thereby creating “a more inclusive environment for women.”
In other words, change the job description.
Airline pilots spend a tiny percentage of their time departing from and arriving at airports. They spend even less time in emergency situations. Most of their time is spent at cruising altitude on autopilot, monitoring the aircraft’s systems and radio traffic.
Accordingly, it’s been said that the art of flying is 99.9 percent boring and 0.1 percent in sheer terror — an obvious exaggeration meant to prove a point.
Yet passengers boarding a flight want — and expect — that their flight crew is perfectly capable of taking off and landing the aircraft, as well as able to competently respond to whatever emergency that may arise.
The same would apply to a firefighter.
When someone is trapped inside her burning she-shed, she could care less whether the person responding to the blaze has “stereotypically feminine traits like compassion.” She wants someone with the strength and courage to break through the door, enter the burning building, and fling her over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry to take her to safety.
As far as that goes, when handed off to an EMT to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation, compassion takes a back seat to professionalism and expertise. She may not even be conscious to know the race and sex of her first-responding caregiver.
Bendersky argues that it all comes down to diversity and inclusivity, as though that should be the determining factor. On that note, she observes that 82 percent of firefighters are white, and just as bad “openly gay men are exceedingly rare in the fire service.”
Here’s a statistic for her: One hundred percent (or nearly so) of firefighters in the United States are U.S. citizens. Does she want that to change also?
Here’s another statistic for Bendersky: Only nine percent of nurses are male. Why doesn’t she address this disparity? Why isn’t she looking to diversify the nursing profession?
The point is, whatever happened to hiring the pest person for the job — the best and the brightest?
Most people applying for a position can accept losing out to someone more qualified. But failing because although you’re more qualified but you’re the wrong race, or you’re not the right sex (or have the right sexual preference) is a bitter pill for anyone to swallow.
Again, Harvard Business Journal likes to think of itself as promoting out of the box thinking. Sometimes the box exists for a reason. Within its boundaries are criteria that have served us well for millennia.
As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.