September 28 2006
Exactly Where Is the Sex Discrimination in the NYFD?
New York City's rad-fems are at it again--with another lawsuit complaining about sex discrimination in the fire department. The gist of this particular lawsuit is that there aren't enough women in the department's top slots:
Here's the report from the New York Resident's Mike McPhate:
"The women say there is an unspoken policy in the department to block the promotion of women firefighters into senior ranks. Among 2,500 employees of the city's Emergency Medical Services, a division of the FDNY, only about 20 women hold the senior ranks of chief and captain, said lawyer Yetta Kurland. Department heads disregard women's talent and experience, said plaintiff Mary Dandridge. 'It's extremely hurtful,' said Dandridge, an EMS lieutenant and 21-year veteran of the department."
"Hurtful" it might be to Dandridge and her pals, but in fact (as I told McPhate myself yesterday when he called me about the lawsuit), if there are 20 female chiefs and captains in the NYFD, women are doing extremely well there.
Back in 2002, when the heroic deeds of the brave (and overwhelmingly male) members of the NYFD were some of the most shining memories of 9/11, I did some research on a previous sex-discrimination lawsuit against the fire department for an article for the IWF's Women's Quarterly. Here's what I wrote:
"In 1978 or thereabouts, [Brenda] Berkman filed a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against the New York Fire Department, complaining that she and several other women couldn't pass the physical fitness section of the city's employment examination for aspiring firefighters. In 1982, in response to Berkman's suit, a federal judge ordered the city to lower the physical standards, and Berkman and about forty other women who were now able to pass the new and easier rest went ahead with their firefighting training. The overwhelming majority of them dropped out, deciding that they didn't really want to be New York City firefighters after all. Since 1982, the city's graduating classes for firefighters have contained only one or two women each and, out of a force of about eleven thousand, there are currently fewer than thirty women."
It's now four years later, so let's add four more graduations, which means there are probably now 38 women firefighters on the New York force. And 20 of them hold top-ranking jobs? What's the problem, Ms. Dandridge?