Gender Diversity in the Fire Department

Subject: Sociology
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 940
Topics: Social Issues, Gender Inequality, Social Inequality
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Sociological Perspectives of Gender Diversity

For many years, men have dominated key professions such as fire fighting, although research shows that women can deliver equal or better performances in some of the areas. The fire-fighting department is one of the most biased in terms of gender balance, particularly in the United States. In as much as the United States boasts as the beacon of democracy, freedom, and equal opportunity, she has failed to address the critical issue of gender imbalance in the fire-fighting department. In essence, the female representation in the U.S. fire-fighting department stands at less than 4%, which depicts laxity in most career departments with regard to fire fighting. Some of the underlying reasons for such discrepancies include occupational culture, lack of desire by women, and skewed employment practices (Fox, Hornick, & Hardin, 2006). Although women have demonstrated capability and competence in key areas of the economy, their participation in the fire-fighting department is a major concern, considering the gender disparity in the department in most U.S. states.

Reasons for choosing the Topic

The topic of gender representation is important because the world is undergoing a slow but critical democratic process with the United States playing a leading role. In that perspective, gender diversity is important in all careers, including the male-dominated careers or the careers that are considered the domain of the male gender. The modern world has seen significant social revolution, especially in relation to the place of women within the society. Women emancipation is a fundamental topic in most conventions around the world, which makes the issue of gender diversity a viable topic for this paper. Gender diversity is important because diversity leads to innovation. Besides the ethical reasons, there is need to abide by laws pertaining to diversity by including women in male-dominated careers to reflect the diversity of the society (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2013).

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Theoretical Perspectives 

In sociology, theoretical perspective entail the linking of two distinct phenomenon in order to comprehend various aspects of life and the world. Theoretical perspectives are important because they enable sociologists to view and assess various phenomena from different dimensions. In essence, theoretical perspectives involve the analysis of various phenomenon both at the micro and macro levels. Besides, the distinct perspectives enable sociologists to come up with certain philosophical positions regarding the phenomenon in question.  The three key theoretical perspectives applicable to the topic include functionalism, interactionism, and conflict (Alessio, 2011). 

Functionalism theory, as it applies to sociology attempts to categorize social institutions as environments where people can meet their social and individual needs. The perspective looks at gender diversity as a way of appreciating all aspects of the society, including gender parity. Although the fire department requires a great deal of manpower, the social inclusion of women in such departments plays a pivotal role not only in meeting the career needs of relevant women, but it also satisfies the societal concept or need of women emancipation. The modern society requires objectivity in harnessing democracy by accounting for gender diversity at the workplace. The functionalist perspective looks at the underlying social factors within the U.S. career management with respect to gender disparity. Women need to occupy equal positions as their male counterparts in the corporate world for personal and social fulfilment (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, & Weitz, 2013).

When it comes to symbolic interactionism perspective, sociologists postulate that people are prone to symbolist in their daily interactions. Whether individually or in groups, people always attach symbolic meanings to other people within the environment. For example, the society may consider women as weaker being in the physiological context. In the case of the fire department, the general discrimination against women is a contributing factor to the gender disparity. Women play an important role in the modern society and it is unacceptable to symbolize women, especially when it comes to career matters. The physiology of women ought not to be a reason for prejudice because fire fighting encompasses a number of roles, some of which may not necessarily require physical strength (Alessio, 2011). 

The Conflict perspective portrays the society as a vibrant entity that is under constant transformation owing to the scramble for the scarce resources available. Indeed, the scarcity of resources has led to the rich to control and oppress the poor. In most scenarios of career oppression and discrimination, women are the key victims. Perhaps the career openings at the fire department are scarce and women cannot beat men in the competition for such lucrative jobs. Conflict arises out of the need to create social order on the people, particularly in the corporate world. Some corporate executives may harbour the belief that women cannot perform well in top positions at the fire department. Consequently, such corporate executives, who may be male chauvinists, may deny qualified women the chance to work for the fire department, leading to gender issues at the fire department. Perhaps the conflict arises out of the men defending their territories by fighting feminism at the fire department career openings (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, & Weitz, 2013).

The theoretical perspectives is an important sociological approach that enables sociologists to view the phenomenon of gender diversity from three fundamental dimensions. Gender diversity is important in sectors of the economy and in all careers, including the fire department. The three sociological perspectives namely functionalism, interactionism, and conflict place the issue of gender diversity in various contexts although the functionalism theory provides the best explanation for the problem of gender disparity in fire the department. The Functionalism perspectives illustrates the role of institutions in shaping people’s perspectives with regard to social and individual needs (Alessio, 2011).

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  1. Alessio, J. C. (2011). Social problems and inequality: Social responsibility through progressive sociology. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate.
  2. Brinkerhoff, D. B., Ortega, S. T., & Weitz, R. (2013). Essentials of sociology. (2013). New Jersey: Wadsworth.
  3. Fox, K. A., Hornick, C. W., & Hardin, E. (2006). International association of fire fighters diversity initiative. Retrieved from http://www.iaff.org/HR/Media/IAFF_Diversity_Report.pdf 
  4. Workplace Gender Equality Agency. (2013). About workplace gender equality. Retrieved from https://www.wgea.gov.au/learn/about-workplace-gender-equality 
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