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UCLA Professor: Too Many White Male Firefighters Out There



In an article printed in the Harvard Business Review, a UCLA professor argued that there are too many white male firefighters in America.

Corinne Bendersky, Professor of Management and Organizations at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, who does research on “gender bias,” posited “black firefighters still face challenges with social exclusion and explicit racism,” and “firefighters tend to default to a reductive set of traits (physical strength evaluated through strict fitness tests, for example) that serve to maintain white men’s dominance in the fire service.”

In addition, Bendersky opined that because 64% of calls for firefighters are triggered by medical emergencies, being male is often insufficient, writing, “To succeed as a firefighter, stereotypically masculine traits like brawn and courage are simply not enough. Firefighters also need the intellectual, social, and emotional skills required to deliver medical emergency aid, support each other through traumatic experiences, and engage intimately with the communities they serve.”

Bendersky noted that 96% of career firefighters are men, and 82% are white. She claims, “Many fire departments recognize that their lack of diversity as a problem and say they’re committed to increasing racial and gender diversity.” She cites research she has done that prompted her to write, “when the topic of female firefighters came up, the importance of physical strength was consistently and spontaneously invoked to justify the relative absence of women in the fire service, but the importance of compassion (a female-stereotyped trait) was rarely, if ever, brought up to argue for bringing more women into the profession.”

Bendersky claimed she heard women firefighters say, “I have to prove myself on every call, every time” and “Everyone expects you to fail.”

Bendersky segued to sexuality issues: “Openly gay men are exceedingly rare in the fire service; the few who are out of the closet face severe social exclusion.” She writes, “Ultimately, most firefighters who are not heterosexual white men must be extremely resilient to overcome relentless scrutiny and exclusion in their careers.”

Bendersky offered her advice: “I also encourage leaders to elevate the value of skills that align with stereotypes about women and minorities through concrete actions. For example, to promote the social and emotional strengths commonly associated with women, one might look for ways to acknowledge and celebrate crew members who demonstrate what we call the ‘heart and soul’ of a firefighter in the station and out in the field.”

Then she intimated that black Americans are generally in better humor than whites:

Joviality — defined as “markedly good humor” and one that helps process emotional trauma — is a positive trait associated with black Americans somewhat more than with white Americans, so explaining that a jovial culture can increase crew effectiveness may reduce some of the skepticism about and exclusion of black firefighters.

Bendersky concluded:

Hopefully, the departments that have implemented my training approach with will see continued improvement in their efforts to confront the diversity challenges of the fire service, and will serve as examples to others across the country, as well as different types of organizations that would like to become more meaningfully diverse. Perhaps most importantly, it will make a difference in the careers of talented and hardworking firefighters.

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  • Larry says:

    Do we have fire departments to put out fires or to serve the fantasies of social engineers who think they are smarter than the rest of us? This woman has had so much education she has become stupid.

  • james sherwood says:

    Sounds like more BS, to divide, constant nonsense from College Profession, leaves U to wonder, why we spend so much on these so called experts, only to start more racism, over & over again..What happen to affirmative action, that U shoved down our throats, for the last 30 years..

  • William conley says:

    Yes let’s place physically inferior people in there so when they have to climb a ladder twenty strories high and chop a wall or door down with an axe then still be able to drag your limb dead weight body out the burning building down the ladder, but when they send all these weak people in who are cowards they’ll let you burn to death before they exert themselves to much or risk their lives. This is about a moronic argument she thinks she’s making. If she’s white she’s a white guilt hate filled person to the brim. If she’s not white she’s just a racist man hater which seems to be acceptable in today’s society as long as it’s white straight males you’re attacking.

  • Charlotte says:

    Yeah, I think she needs to put on a suit, go on some calls to see what firemen REALLYdo!

  • Joe says:

    If I’m choking from smoke in a house on fire that I can’t get out of, please send me the biggest, strongest, bravest SOB’s you have in the department. I couldn’t care less if they’re mostly white men. Please don’t send me a truck full of weak women that can’t bust down the door or gays that won’t bust down the door because it might scratch their fingernail polish. If it happens to be mostly white men who can pass the physical standards, then so be it. If women just want to join the fire department to go on medical calls, join an ambulance service. I’m 6’3″ and weigh 240 lbs. Tinkerbell couldn’t drag me out of a fire if I’m unconscious.

  • VaWhiteTailHunter says:

    Guarantee you this lady has brown eyes because she’s so full of chit, it’s oozing out everywhere.

  • kat says:

    Personally, I don’t care what race they are as long as they could carry me down a ladder safely and know what to do with medical emergencies. I guess this idiot professor wants the standards lowered just so we can have diversity on paper. Black men are just as capable as white men – could it be that many black men don’t want to be firemen???? We don’t need white nor black people in a position if they do not want or cannot do the job.

  • Curtis Bartley says:

    Well miss dumb butt why don’t you change jobs and put out fires or are you white? Blacks are in better humor well that could be because most of them are high on something all the time. Do know something no brains you better never have a fire you just might wake up dead.

  • Cate Wilson says:

    Well maybe that’s because white males are brave and are willing to put their lives on the line to serve others. Why don’t you take the physical big mouth and see how you do. You’d wet your pants and start crying after 2 minutes. Maie female white black purple polka dot, the physical for any FD is grueling and not many can pass it . So shut your pie hole and go back to your me too and don’t forget your hat.

  • RWF