Practical Support for the Changing World at Work 
Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
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Consider This... June 2018 Issue Number 215

Is a monthly electronic newsletter which links current events and issues to the daily challenges faced by fire and emergency services managers. Current topics in the areas of leadership development, workplace diversity, change management, and conflict resolution will be discussed.

We hope that you find the information here useful and provocative.
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Upcoming Events  

Fire-Rescue International will take place August 8-11, 2018 in Dallas, TX.

The King County (WA) Fire Chiefs Association will be holding its annual meeting at the end of September on Bainbridge Island, WA. Linda Willing will be a featured speaker at this event. More details to follow.

Now available! On the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda F. Willing. This book features interviews with over 35 women firefighters from the United States and Canada. The book is available from major online booksellers, and signed copies may be ordered through this website.


In the News

When Women Don't Quit

The most recent Boston Marathon was one of the most miserable in history for weather: horizontal rain and freezing temperatures, and it also had one of the highest dropout rates among runners in recent events. By mid-race, the overall dropout rate was up 50% compared to the previous year.

However, the rate for finishing under those miserable conditions varied considerably by gender. For men, the dropout rate was up almost 80% compared to 2017. For women, it was up only 12%. This trend was consistent for both citizen and elite runners.

Some commentators speculated that women did better in those conditions because of physiology-- more body fat to insulate them against the cold. But in the Boston Marathon of 2012 on an unusually hot day near 90 degrees, women also finished at a higher rate than men, the only other event between 2012 and 2018 when they did.

There are many theories about why women might rise when conditions are at their worst in such races. A high tolerance for pain, perhaps linked to evolutionary adaptations to childbirth is one theory. The fact that women are known to pace themselves better in longer races might also play a role. According to researcher and author Alex Hutchinson, men tend to start races more aggressively and take a higher risk approach that could backfire if conditions significantly deteriorate. Elite distance coach Steve Magness reinforced this. "Women generally seem better able to adjust their goals to the moment, whereas men will see their race as more black or white, succeed or fail."

Another factor that might give women an edge under bad conditions is their tendency to be collaborative and support one another. Although this is not a universal trait among women, it did occur during the most recent Boston Marathon, allowing the ultimate winner to persist and triumph with the help of her more-favored teammates.

Persistence against obstacles, high tolerance for pain and discomfort, the ability to pace oneself and be flexible with goals, the desire to collaborate and support others: these all sound like great qualities for women in any profession or endeavor, including firefighting.

Source: The New York Times, April 22, 2018


News Brief

The ACLU has filed discrimination charges against the Fairfax County Fire Department, the fire department union, and Fairfax County. The charges are the first step in filing a federal lawsuit for discrimination in the department's treatment of women members. The charges were filed on behalf of two of the highest ranking women on the department.

Source:, May 23, 2018


Sexual Harassment Update

Reverse Discrimination

There have been several recent lawsuits and at least one settlement made to white male firefighters who claim they experienced discrimination or disparate treatment because of their race. These cases are often reported as incidents of "reverse discrimination."

But folks, in terms of the law, there is no such thing.

Talking about reverse discrimination implies that there is one legal system in place for minorities and women who experience discrimination in the workplace, and another different system for those white men who are wronged by this previous system.

But it is simply not true. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on five characteristics: race, sex, ethnicity, religion, and color. (Age and disability were added later.) This law includes everyone and applies to everyone, even those who are usually in the majority. So if you are a white, male, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant with blonde hair and blue eyes, and are experiencing discrimination because of any of those traits, you are equally covered under the same law that protects everyone else.

When so-called reverse discrimination cases go to court they are adjudicated according to the same law that is applied to cases of women or African-Americans or Latinos or anyone else who has experienced workplace discrimination under the terms of Title VII.

Talking about reverse discrimination as if it is some uniquely different condition than any other kind of discrimination is just another way to divide people. And we really don't need that right now.

Sources: The Advocate, May 24, 2018 and May 11, 2017




© Linda F. Willing, 2018