First off, I have zero issue with women working in any of these fields. If this is what you want to do, fucking get after it - who am I to judge what you want to do with your life.
My issue is with the physical standards for men and women. Where I live in Canada, for the physical tests required to become a firefighter or officer (and maybe soldier?), women have lower requirements than their male counterparts. Women are not required to have the same strength and speed as men.
A fire does not provide smaller victims, because a petite female is responding. Criminals don't take it easier on smaller women. Terrorists will engage in combat with any gender. And so on.
If my 200lb ass is unconscious in a building fire, I want someone that's 6'5" and 260lbs to toss me over their shoulder and carry me out, not some 115lb person (male or female) that can barely drag me on the ground. (In-line edit: The 6'5"/260lbs firefighter is hyperbole, to drive a point home. I've had multiple people comment on how unrealistic it is, but obviously there are smaller people who could to a fine job.)
But women aren't as strong as men... Yup, that's generally true. Of course there are exceptions; I know plenty of women that are bigger and stronger than most men. I also know men that are smaller and weaker than your average woman. But your average woman is not physically cut-out for firefighting or policing. And to be fair, your average man isn't either.
When the physical job expectations are identical for both genders, it makes zero sense to lower the bar for one of them. There are smaller men that fail the physical standard for men, but would pass for women. But they aren't female, and so they get the boot.
Edit: One good point that multiple people have pointed out is that not all jobs require the same level of fitness. A person running into a burning building requires arguably more fitness/strength/endurance than somebody operating a pump truck. Others have mentioned that the military has non-gendered physical requirements, that instead are based on the job that you will have. So, perhaps this would be an alternative to what currently is in place for police/fire. There would still only be one standard for each role, but there would be multiple roles that require varying levels of fitness.
Also... to anyone saying shit like "women should be at home having babies," you can go ahead and sit on your fist. This post isn't meant to perpetuate sexism and archaic thinking, but rather to express my concern with the safety and efficacy of current gendered physical requirements.
Edit Edit: The second part of my title should really say "NOBODY should be given a lower standard." I know I singled women out in this, but petite men are equally under-qualified for much of this work. I am just as satisfied with a man passing or failing a test as a woman, so long as the test itself adequately reflects the tasks that will be carried out while on the job.
Edit Edit Edit: Good lord. RIP, inbox. Trying to keep up with the comments, but it's getting a little overwhelming.
One last thing I'll address, since people keep bringing it up, is that the physical standards are not meant to measure absolute strength/fitness. I am not saying that women need to be as strong as their male counterparts. There should be a minimum requirement that is the same for all genders, to show that you are capable of performing the job. If you are above that level, good! If you are below, try again or consider a different field.
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