Sisters in the Brotherhood: Experiences and Strategies of Women Wildland Firefighters
AuthorMitchell, Kalynne M.
AdvisorBlithe, Sarah J.
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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Drawing from a feminist discursive theoretical framework, this research used qualitative interview methods to analyze the challenges of women wildland firefighters as they work disproportionately alongside their male coworkers, and the strategies they use to deal with those challenges. Data collection for this study involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews either face-to-face or via telephone. Findings revealed that women wildland firefighters experience an array of challenges due to traditional gender norms, gender stereotypes, and the culture of hegemonic masculinity; and they use various strategies to deal with those challenges. For instance, the data reveal that women in the fire community endure gender discrimination, sexual harassment, microaggressions, stigma, imposter syndrome, struggle with work-life management in contrast to their male coworkers, and often alter their behaviors based on the need to become accepted in the masculine dominated culture. Implications for the fire organization are discussed, and recommendations for future studies are explored.