I would like to start by saying that in nature males and females are different. For instance, she-elephants are sociable, while he-elephants are solitary. Male zebras are garrulous, while female zebras are mute. The majority of tropical male fishes are colorful, while females are pale. These biological differences as found in nature are rather striking, yet they accurately define the social roles and existing skills acquisition. In the following essay I will speak about the gender roles and customs which are products of human biology rather than some social influence. I will speak about some stereotypes of men and women as present in our societies. I will comment on the biological differences and the hormones prevailing in the body. I will note why it appears that the job of firefighters is occupied primarily by males rather than females.
The British company, Admiral insurance would conduct a study of over 600,000 thousand claims. Their findings depicted the females are more spatially challenged compared to men so there were 25% as likely to hit a stationary car, and about 200% as likely to have a collision in a car park.
Masculinity is considered to be the virtue of a ‘real’ man and is a characteristic of a successful male’s character envied by other males.
The word masculinity reflects the following:
- Being a biological male with apparent sexual dimorphism.
- Masculine role as traditionally assumed in the society.
- Masculine grammatical gender.
Masculinity is the opposite from femininity as yin is the opposite from yang. Traditional masculinity in the human society and the natural world possesses the following characteristics.
One will refer them to the job of a firefighter:
- Physical appearance. A male is supposed to be athletic, agile and brave. Men can look sloppy, untidy and can afford to worry less about their physical appearance and ageing. Firefighters need to be strong enough to break into certain secluded areas. Women would have a hard time doing that job.
Functionally males are supposed to be workers, breadwinners and providers of material goods for their females and the families.
- Sexual activity. Male are supposed to be sexually aggressive and experienced. Being single is a well accepted characteristic for males. Being caught cheating on a female is considered more ok as compared to cheating females. Having more than one sexual partner is a sign of a good male who can afford to support and inseminate as many females as possible.
- Emotionally males are supposed to be stoic and unemotional. Males are supposed to be patient and enduring. They cannot cry and whim. They are those who can listen and take things patiently and rationally. The job of a firefighter requires patience and bravery, something that males inherently have. Researcher apparently utilize the theory-generating techniques of exploratory factor analysis to come up with the aforementioned observations (Witteveen, 2006).
- Intellectually males are supposed to be intellectual and rational. They tend to be more scientific, and mechanical. Male activity is supposed to be beneficial to the society. Males can be more objective, logical and dogmatic. They do not do things out of emotional urge. Logic and proper thinking is required for firefighting roles simply because one cannot use only emotions when developing the tactics of dealing with fire. Still, females are believed to be as capable of doing things as males, according to some feminist writers (Eagly, 1995).
Interpersonally males are supposed to be leaders and authoritarians. Males are more independent than females. They pursue freedom, individualism and superiority. Males tend to be dominating and highly demanding.
- Despite having greater life expectancy, females have greater hospitalization rates and prevalence of chronic diseases (Dimich-Ward, 2005). For firefighters some of these tendencies might not allow women to participate.
- Personal characteristics of a true male reflect their aggressiveness and assertiveness. Males are more determined and are success-oriented. Males like competition and adventure. They are considered to be more trust-worthy, proud and egoistic. Males like to make decisions and rule over others (males and females). A firefighter needs to be strong and aggressive. Females lack these qualities and will not make effective firefighters in my opinion.
One still needs to ntoe that despite it might appear that the presented differences between males and females are the same, Hyde (1995) noted that they are not the same and in some cases the differences although present are not truly important or discernable.
The presence of aforementioned masculine qualities in females is considered to be a sign of masculinity which will further label females either “tom boy” (young girls) or “butch” (masculine older women). The word butch is also widely used in the lesbian and feminist communities. Men and women have faced substantial problems through human evolutionary history (Buss, 1995).The adoption of signs applicable to one sex by another sex is typically considered to be the sign of homosexuality in the modern communities worldwide. As a result there is a clear cut line that was formed over generations based on inherent differences between males and females regarding how a female or a male should behave, look, act and think, let alone how these two genders are to be motivated.
Females on the other hand have traditionally the opposite roles in their lives as demanded by the society and triggered by their hormone levels, the DNA and activity of the brain.
- Physical appearance. Females are supposed to be slim with well developed sexual attributes: breasts, buttocks, long hair, soft skin. Females are expected to spend a lot of time on their hygiene and physical looks. Females are supposed to be attractive physically. Harris (1997) noted that in America stereotypes found sports to be the prerogative of males because of masculine appearance of athletes.
- Functionally females are supposed to be mothers, cooks, assistants to males, and those to satisfy the needs of active males.
- Sexual activity. Females are supposed to be shy, tender, and inexperienced. Females are supposed to be somewhat unavailable yet always resisting to the sexual advances of males. Cheating on a partner is considered to be the highest crime for females and a sign of her immorality. Single female is considered to be abnormal as there appears to be no demand for her from active males in the environment in which she lives.
- Emotionally females are supposed to be emotional and expressive. They can say one thing, think another thing and do something else. They are expected to be able to cry and whim and act irrationally. Females are expected to be cowardly compared to males. Females are emotionally unstable and can be talked into anything regardless of their own opinion, i.e. they can be much better manipulated.
- Intellectually females are supposed to be emotionally biased and unstable. Their intellectual thinking is supposed to be interrupted by emotional urges. They should be unable to concentrate for a long period of time and thus should be unable to become highly qualified. Females typically lack the rational thinking that the males have and also are unable to have decent special coordination.
- Interpersonally males are supposed to be the followers and supporters. They should give up their position to a leader and follow the commands accurately. They do not need much freedom yet rather they need protection, support, help, assistance and care. Females are believed to be unable to survive in the world without males in their life. This can be summed up by a famous proverb “women give and forgive, while men get and forget”.
- Personal characteristics of a true female reflect their shyness, inexperience, passivity and acceptance. Females are more family and relationship-oriented. Females do not like competition much especially if that competition comes from other females. Females cannot be trusted as they can give up secrets due to emotional instability. Females like to be ruled by strong, “aggressive and assertive males with whom they can feel like females”.
Despite the current desire by the feminist communities to state the only differences between males and females besides genitals are the differences created by the male-dominant societies, one can say that there are various innate differences between males and females, i.e. boys and girls.
There were several studies undertaken in the university of Wisconsin where researchers would inject testosterone into unborn female monkeys since monkey engage in sex-stereotyped behavior and gender-specific roles. The monkey males are more aggressive and fighting, while the monkey females are calm and prefer to spend their time with the young monkeys/babies. As these testosterone-injected females grew up, they would behave in a way similar to monkey males, i.e. they did not nurture the young yet rather would prefer to fight and act aggressively. In human realm, the culture is rather broad and wide (Todman, 2006).
In 1 out of 80,000 pregnancies, one happens to have a genetic defect that would expose babies to excessive androgen levels. If that happens to girls, the congenital adrenal hyperplasia develops. Even though these females are born as biologic females, thy indeed act like boys as the masculine androgen hormone drastically affects their desires, behavior and acts. These girls since the early childhood prefer to play with boys and prefer to play masculine toys and play tricks on other girls.
Michael Lewis would conduct an experiment to test the behavior of one-year-old boys and girls when separated from their parents by an artificial barrier. While girls would typically sit behind the barrier and start to cry, boys would behave more actively and would try to knock down the barrier to get their parents/mothers.
Another difference, besides the hormone levels in males and females which affect their behavior is the difference in thinking due to brain differences of males and females. The human brain just like the rest of the human body is sex-specific and the way the brain works represent either maleness or femaleness. The sex-specific differences are located not only in the primitive areas of the brain as well as in the neocortex, the higher brain regions. One should remember that it is neocortex that contains 75% of all neurons of the central nervous system and it is divided into two brain hemispheres which are joined by 200-million fiber network one calls “corpus callosum”.
It is a common knowledge that the left hemisphere of the human brain controls the linguistic ability (language, speaking), its analysis and expression let alone body movements. The right hemisphere of the human brain is responsible for the spatial relationship, facial mimics/expression, emotional stimuli and vocal intonations.
Males and females do differ in the way they process information because of one portion of the brain called splenium, which is apparently much larger in females than in males and throughout the day has greater brain activity. Similar studies make us understand that females use both hemisphere of the brain simultaneously when engaging in problem-solving while males use only one hemisphere at a time when working on similar problems.
The communication differences between males and females are also represented by the different brain activity of males and females during communication. During a typical verbal communication females would have a much greater awareness of emotionally relevant details, visual cues, hidden meanings and verbal nuances. On the contrary, males are more interested in objects and logical facts rather than people, while females respond more eagerly to human voice, tone and sound than to actual objects (appearance, looks, facts).
One should note that the brain differences between males and females is not a sign of inferiority of superiority, yet rather specialization and differences in thinking. Thus, on average males have much better special and math abilities than females. The feminist opponents state that such differences are present only due to social expectations so if females since their early childhood were encouraged to become scientists and mathematicians they would certainly become mathematicians as they have exactly the same ability as boys do. Still there is numerous evidence that math and special abilities are inherited and appear in early childhood only increasing during puberty. By the same token females are more vocal and verbally developed than males and thus are better at expressing themselves let alone hearing higher frequencies. Also females do much better in reading/listening/learning the vocabulary and foreign language learning.
One should also remember that males indeed have a superior ability to visualize multidimensional objects as compared to females’ ability to visualize these objects. Such ability is what makes males better mathematicians and logical thinkers. Males are also better is movement ability than girls. Hernandez (2006) noted that one woman who tried to become a good firefighter would find the training drills most difficult and challenging (p.22).
Males and females are different in the way their brains work with respect to physical movement. As a result the physical strength and endurance between males and females is also different. These differences depend on the hormone levels and the genes. Females have on average only 50%-60% of upper body strength of males and on average have only about 75%-80% of the strength of a male of identical weight. These differences are also seen in the ability of males and females to throw the ball. Males on average throw the ball further and more accurately.
Many thinkers still believe that physical differences between men and women should not be taken into consideration when hiring women for the roles of soldiers, policemen, firefighters and bodyguards. Females typically lack the needed strength and endurance and thus make worse soldiers, firefighters and policemen. Females despite being able to endure short-term pain of high intensity better than males, cannot endure long-term pain as well as males, as a result females typically cannot tolerate tortures in a way males usually do.
Still, one has to accept the fact that females strive for equality and have already made certain advances. For instance the number of working females raised from 18.4 million in 1960 to 65 million in 2002. By the end of the year 2010 the number of working females in the USA will reach 75 million. In statistical terms it means that in 1960 women accounted for 20% of the total labor force. In 2002 females accounted for 45% of total labor force. In 2010, females are believed to account for 49% of the labor force. The number of females in the labor force is growing at a much faster rate than the number of males in the labor force. While in the early 1960s, only 30% of women worked, in 2002, more than 55% had an employment. By the year 2010 the percentage of working women is expected to reach 65%.
In 2002, 70% of working women were white collar workers. Only 25% of working women were employed in professional jobs. The number of married women looking for employment and having jobs also increased by more than 25% from 1960s. 50% of multiple-job holders are females. Angela Me and Constantza Giovanelli (2003) pointed out the fact that because women are underrepresented in certain professions makes people think that they are inferior to males in these professions.
One should note that although women account for the greatest number of professional workers, the occupational distribution is rather surprising. For instance, 95% of nurses are females, 82% of elementary and middle school teachers are females, and 98% of kindergarten and preschool teachers are females. At the same time only 9% of civil engineers are women, 7% of electronic engineers are women, and only 4% of all pilots and military aircraft pilots are women. Belokonnaia (2001) pointed out that in Russia females more and more often get accepted into traditionally masculine jobs (p.72). One can assume that American females as well can make good firefighters.
It is interesting to find out that women in the recent years started to penetrate the jobs previously occupied by males. For instance in 1970s only 30% of technical writers were women, while in 2002, 64% of technical writers were women. In 1980s, 30% of pharmacists were women while in 2002, there were already 50% of female pharmacists. By the same token the percentage of female chemists increased from 10% in 1980s to 30% in 2002. women would make up 25% of all lawyers in 2002, 29% of all physicians and surgeons, as well as 65% of all psychologists in 2002.
Females in 2002 would earn only 75% of the salary for an identical post earned by males. For colored women the gap is even larger. In the USA the wage differences appear to be greater than in other developed nations.
In conclusion, one should remember that there exist differences between males and females and these roles are programmed in their DNA which in turn would affect the hormone levels, the way brain thinks and thus affects the physical differences in strength, way of thinking and behavior. The brains of both males and females are clearly sexed and the presence of testosterone and estrogen are the very hormones that contribute to either the masculinity or femininity in human beings. As can be seen from the essay, males possess the qualities that the job of a firefighter requires, namely, physical strength, coordination, bravery, power and aggressiveness, let alone logical thinking. These are the very qualities that a successful and effective firefighter must possess. Females usually possess different qualities than the profession of a firefighter requires, so they originally have a disadvantage when entering that profession. Still, taking into account the fact that over the past few decades females would pursue actively the professions deemed as masculine, one can presume that although males have an advantage when getting a job of a firefighter, females might prepare well and get the job of a firefighter, too.
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