In January, the LA Weekly published a cover story about how City Hall's dream of recruiting more women firefighters turned into a multimillion-dollar disaster. So it wasn’t too surprising to learn that not much has changed. The fire department is still trying and failing to recruit women.
Over the years, politicians and fire commissioners have called for more women in the fire department ranks. In the 1990’s, then- council member Jackie Goldberg espoused the popular but untested view that fire departments should be 20 percent female. More recently, fire commissioner Genethia Hudley-Hayes called for women to represent at least five percent of the department.
It isn’t happening. Women make up a tiny percentage of the fire department — 2.9% of 3,716 firefighters and the numbers have pretty much stayed the same since 1995. In July, the fire department lured just one woman out of 55 recruits to its drill tower training academy class, or 1.8 percent. In comparison, the Los Angeles Police Department lured 14 women out of 63 police recruits to its police academy class, or 21 percent.
Is anyone really surprised?