I have a new story up at Outside magazine, about how the obstacles women in the Forest Service face go far beyond sexual harassment:
Darla Bush had been working at Sequoia for 14 years by then, including nearly a decade in the eastern Kern River Ranger District, where she oversaw an unusually large docket of missions, from wildland fires to vehicle accidents to river rescues. She came from a long line of firefighters and had become the first female engine captain in her tribe.
But when Bush tried to implement changes—instituting uniform physical training regimens, enforcing safety policies, changing the color of the crew T-shirt—she says that her male subordinates rebelled. All the men on her crew spoke Spanish, and when Bush, who did not, reminded them that agency safety protocol mandated that employees speak their supervisor’s language during work hours, she said they ignored her. When she gave them directions, they looked instead to her second-in-command—who, Bush alleged in a statement to the Forest Service, had told her he should have gotten her job.
When they were on a firefighting assignment at another forest and supposed to be on call 24/7, she said in her EEO complaint, they left without notifying her to go out drinking, which Bush believed might make them unfit for duty the following day. When Bush chastised them, they complained that they were “grown men” who shouldn’t be lectured by a woman…