The Washington Post recently turned to Attorney Debra D'Agostino for her insight into gender discrimination cases filed against our federal firefighting services. Mounting evidence and victim accounts indicate that working environments in federal agencies like Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service are often openly hostile towards women firefighters.
"There’s something about firefighting that seems to make it a uniquely discriminatory environment," Attorney D'Agostino told the Post. "I deal with female law enforcement officers all the time, and I don’t hear this sort of thing."
Attorney D'Agostino represents Anda Janik, who formerly worked for a federal fire station just outside San Diego. She was not provided her own facilities at the station and had to approach her battalion commander every morning to use his own private shower.
"SHAME & FEAR"
Anda Janik's story is only one of several embattled female firefighters profiled by the Washington Post. There are numerous accounts of sexual harassment, physical intimidation, and open hostility from misogynist co-workers in federal firefighting departments throughout the country. While some officials note that improvements have been made, many advocates agree with Attorney D'Agostino: federal firefighting departments seem particularly entrenched in discriminatory and even criminal behavior towards women.
"As women, many of us feel shame and fear of coming forward to report misconduct," says Yosemite National Park Fire Chief Kelly Martin, "and cannot bring ourselves to be the ones who have the difficult and painful task of speaking up about this type of serious allegation."
You can read all of "Few women fight wildfires. That’s not because they’re afraid of flames." on the Washington Postsite.