“You Just Keep Moving Forward”

mx2JnISWhen I think of the biggest male-dominated professions, I think of airline pilots, mechanics and people in the helping professions, like police and fire personnel. Oh, and then there’s construction, tech, finance, politics and, yep, pastors.

Come to think of it, it’s sort of tough to narrow down.

So I paid attention the other day when I saw this NPR article about a woman named Judy Brewer. In 1974, the Arlington County, VA Fire Department made Miller the first female career firefighter in the nation.

And as you might expect, Brewer faced more than her share of pushback. For instance, according to Brewer:

“‘The wives were upset about their husbands bunking with a woman,’’’ Brewer recalled in an article in the Dec. 25, 1990 edition of The Washington Post.`I’m still here, so obviously the concern died down eventually.’’

It wasn’t just her co-worker’s wives. Again, according to Brewer:

“When I applied at my local fire station to volunteer in Fairfax County, I was told essentially to go back to my kitchen, it was no place for a woman,” she says. Fellow churchgoers asked how she could “lower” herself to do that kind of job. Brewer’s fellow firefighters weren’t accepting, either. “When I first was hired, people were worried about different things,” she says. “The one that they used as a reason was that they were afraid that I would compromise them in a fire by not being able to help them if they got into trouble.”

So how did she persevere in the midst of this climate?

“…you just keep saying, OK, I’m doing a lot of good. And you just keep moving forward,” she says.

Friends, that’s self-confidence. It’s also perseverance.

In the end, Brewer thrived. She saved lives. She inspired (and continues to inspire) other women to serve. And she did the job well. In fact, in 1999, Brewer retired…as a battalion chief. Yep, she was the first woman to attain that leadership role in the country as well.

So here’s to Judy Brewer. Thanks for leading the way, and for continuing to “just move forward.”

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