Fighting Fires and Gender Roles

A flipped car on the side of the road and multiple vehicles stopped, but no one is getting out to help forced 4-year old Michelle Egler to ask her mom why. Egler’s mom told told her that people just don’t know how to. In that moment, the child decided that she wanted to know how to help people when she became an adult.
Today Egler is working for the Lenexa Fire Department, where her first and only application was sent. She had an amazing application because she knew that as a woman she would have to work extra hard to prove herself equal to men. “I wanted to feel confident in myself that I didn’t get the job just because I was a woman.” On every break from school, listen she found training to make her application stand out. listen “I built up several pages full of certifications- to set myself apart from everyone else”.
Because Egler was the first woman selected for a job at Lenexa Fire Department, her application seemed like a long shot. “I was confident that I was a good applicant, but I didn’t really pressure myself for the job”.
Imagine many large men who have been there together for years and are very comfortable with each other. Now imagine having to dive into that with no one to stand next to you and talk you through the awkward moments. Being the first and only woman to intrude on the man cave of a firehouse is exactly what Egler did. “It did feel like there were a lot of watchful eyes” she said.
At first, Egler tried to not make any waves. Eventually she decided to start the introduction process. “I’m not typically one to try and engage people — but I purposefully went out of my comfort zone to try and get people to know me as quickly as possible”.
The first time that Egler felt the ice from her coworkers break was during one of her first nights on shift. A few people met to play cards and one of the guys accidentally let a bad word slip. When Egler laughed it off, everyone saw that she wasn’t offended easily just because she was a woman. “I felt like I was then more part of the group.”
Egler’s advice to young women who want to pursue a job in a male-dominated field is to be certain and confident. “I had already made up my mind and that’s what I wanted to do, so there wasn’t really another alternative for me and I think that helped.” Egler said.