In this episode, Sierra will be talking about just more the empowering of women and her transformation over the last year.
In this episode, Sierra will be talking about just more the empowering of women and her transformation over the last year.
Sierra has been with the Forest Service for 18 years. Her current position with the agency is Contracting Officer. She began working for the Forest Service in high school (work release) and all through college. While obtaining her college education, she worked various positions in the Forest Service including Public Affairs, Fire Prevention Officer, Fire Education (Smokey Bear education), Forest Visitor Center Supervisor, Nature Camp Director, and Fire Contracting Officer. She earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Utah in 2010 and began working permanently as a Fire Contracting Officer. Early in her career, she obtained her qualifications as a wildland firefighter, and currently works on wildfires across the country as a Public Information Officer.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm your host, Jerry Dean Lund. And I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode. And so please hit that subscribe button. And while your phones out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcasts. It says, Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. And for those of you feeling a little stuck, whether you're a first responder or not, I created a one on one coaching program. It's dedicated to creating personal insight, discovery of inner wisdom, motivation, and growth to empower you to reach your truest potential. You can find that information @jerrryfireandfuel on Instagram. Or you can go to Enduring the Badge web page and find it under the coaching tab. Now let's jump right into this next episode with my very special guest. First return podcaster.
No, I didn't. I'm flattered.
Yeah, yeah. So last time, we talked about your kind of your your job, we can just briefly talk about your job. But today I want to talk about just more the empowering of women. And you've, you've actually I've seen you go through a little bit of transformation yourself over the last year. So let's talk about that as well. So just introduce to the audiences briefly.
Yeah, my name is Sierra Hellstrom, I worked for the Forest Service. I've been there 18 years this month, actually, I started in high school. And I just, it wasn't ever really going to be my career choice. I just started there as a job to get through college and loved it. And I have a really big passion for the agency and the things that we do. And public land in general, it is the sustenance of all life, that's where we get all of our water. And it is the future. And it's one of those things that I feel very intimately about protecting and being a part of. So I love being a part of an organization that's bigger than myself. And a big part that plays into that is the Forest Service is a basically, mainly male agency, and it is getting better. There's been a lot of progress in the last few decades since I have been in the agency. I've visibly seen it. But it is it is slow progress, like anything that's a fairly male dominated industry. Women are working to working their way up through that what they call, you know, the glass ceiling.
Yeah, there has bogged down on, you know, fires and stuff like that. And there has noticeably been an increase of women into the wildland firefighting field. And, and I think it's even maybe a little bit slower in the, you know, in the structure world. I mean, you just, that's just the way it appears to me to just be the area that that I'm in. But yeah, it's I'm glad to see that the women coming into those areas. I mean, it does a lot of lot of good in a lot of lot of ways. Break up some of that old tradition, stuff like that, and interject some new blood and new thoughts into the fire service.
Yeah, completely. It's hard to I think you're right, that the structure kind of depends on area by area, that there are some areas in the United States that are more patriarchal than others. So they don't tend to those types of more masculine, identify jobs don't draw as many women. But I would say for the most part, there is a big push in all of these agencies. And both whether it be state, local, federal, to try and get that gender gap minimized.
Yeah, yeah. Excuse me, for sure. I think it's, it's not a very high paying career field either. So I don't know if sometimes that doesn't draw, you know, in some of the women that could, you know, do other other things instead of maybe wanting to do something. So physical labor and get paid a lot less, but they do it because they are so passionate.
Yeah, I think that's a really valid point. In my opinion, a lot of what I've seen and again, this is a trend that I'm starting to see change societally is that, for the most part, women are the primary caretakers of the tiny humans as I like to Yeah. And there just isn't as much flexibility for women to have these types of jobs. And I can't speak necessarily to structural but in wildland firefighting, we go out for two weeks at a time and honestly in bad seasons up to three weeks at a time, away from our homes away from our families and our obligations. And if you are the primary caretaker for children. That's just physically not possible to be gone all summer. I mean, some summers, I have gone up to 80 days, I think I think 89 was my highest one year, which is a third of my year. Yeah, to not be around and I I personally, this is a, you know, just where we get real personal here is I struggled from infertility. So I haven't been able to have children, which is not something that has been as hard for me as it been for some women. So I have all the sympathy for my co workers who are trying to create that balance of motherhood, and working in a very demanding job. And even with the men in this career field, they're starting to see the toll that it takes on their relationships with their spouses and their children being gone that much that just yesterday, we had our fire refresher to go over all the things and, you know, deploy our fire shelters. And one of the discussion points that came up was how many people are leaving in droves? For all the reasons is, it's not that we don't love the work that we do, all of us are passionate about it, or we wouldn't do it. Because yeah, nobody works this hard of a job, this demanding of a career that doesn't pay as well as they could probably go make in the private sector. Yeah, they don't do it just because they do it because they love it. But at some point in time, we're starting to see the scale tip the other direction, where it's not worth your life, and your relationship with all of the people and even a lot of the males in the agency are starting to see that and take step out of fire jobs and stepped into more management roles. And we did it up as we were based on Job Corps. And so a lot of them are leaving fire and going there to be teachers, and educators of the next generation of firefighters, so they can still be part of it without being gone for 100 days a year and missing out on their families lives.
Yeah, cuz you could potentially go up to three weeks, come back for two, right, and then go out again. So you have two rest days.
They've actually I give a lot of credence to upper management as they this. This is the first time I have felt in a while that we're being heard. And they're taking it seriously. And it's through accumulation of a lot of factors, one of which is the mental health struggle that we're seeing and how many I don't say this lightly like suicides we are seeing in wildland firefighting, yeah, that they are actually adding an extra mandatory day after a two week assignment. So you are home no less than three days, which is still a minimal amount compared to how much we're going out. But a day is a day that that is going to make a difference for a lot of people to give them the extra time with their family and just home to recoup so that they're ready to go out again.
Yeah, I think it's some people may not understand just how exhausting it is to be gone for that amount of time working hard out in the heat or doing whatever it is you're doing, and you're not staying in this luxurious hotel by any means. If you mean, your sleeping bag in some dirt. Yeah, yeah. And I could see you know, for women getting into this career, right and wanting to have a family, they have to would have to kind of like time that in their career to to have a family in which it would be very difficult to do time that right with not giving up a bunch of time, you know, in their career. Yeah, I honestly I don't really see how how that's even possible. In the wildland world, this structure was a little bit different because they can work a little bit longer and they don't have to be gone for the family more than two days most of the time. And they can come back to light duty but there's not really light duty in the wildland world is there.
Not as much. This was one of the areas that I have really felt strongly. One of my favorite phrases is empowered women empower women. And I've been very fortunate here I work in the Great Basin, which covers you to Idaho, Nevada and parts of Wyoming that our fire director for many years over the Great Basin was a woman Sue Stewart. She recently retired last year, I believe, but she was a woman who had two children and some of them that were a little more special needs and she had you know they needed that and she had a supportive spouse. One of the biggest things is the only way to do that is with a support system. Yeah. If you are regardless of whether you're male or female, if you are the primary caretaker of children or you're just have a you are a parent and have children, you have to have people that are going to be home and going to help take hear of them. I also you know, as much as we talked about women, I know a lot of single fathers as well that deal with this and their families step in and those kinds of things. So while women still are the majority caretakers of children, I recognize that that does go both ways. But Sue had a supportive husband, he helped, they were both in fire at the time, that's how they met, they have a really good story. And so why, while she worked her way up, he supported her career, and they moved around a lot and they supported each other, they both worked through it till it got to a point where she was so high up in such a position that he kind of took a step back, and a lot of times was the primary caretaker to the children. And she recognized the importance and the need for that for having, you know, what I like to colloquially call a tribe or a group of people, because it's not always family, it is not always your significant other. It's not always your mother and sisters and brothers, sometimes it has neighbors and friends, or fire family as we like to refer to ourselves. And one of the biggest pushes she did while she was a fire director, was recognize the need to help these women who were losing their careers because they got pregnant. Yeah, and it just, it isn't like structure where you come and go, and you can be gone for a night and then come back and things like that you're gone for a significant portion of time, there isn't really light duty mid fire season. And she started creating a program where women who were having children could go into like temporary details. At the time, were they almost making light duty, so it wasn't creating pitch positions, or them it was placing them in kind of office positions in a temporary status. During the time in which they had recently had the child were just coming back up maternity leave, maybe the first year of that child's life during fire season, and then they were able to go back to their permanent position. And it's moves like that for management that are going to make a difference. And not even just within the forest service. But in America, in general, if we don't start creating avenues for women, to both have children and a career, it's very detrimental to society, women are very strong and have a lot of voice that they could be giving to any type of career. But it is very limiting to be a mother and be in charge of those children and not have the flexibility to come and go. Or maybe to go on light duty. One of the examples of this, my sister is a law enforcement officer with the Forest Service. And she patrols you know, and one of the biggest things like she's got a big heavy gun belt. And when you get to a certain point, your you know, yeah, I've gotten down just doesn't fit around that. And also, at some point in time, you were, you know, endangering a second person's life and that job. Yeah. And even after she had the babies, they were able to create these kinds of temporary positions for her have her do some light duty work. And I love the progress that I'm seeing with those kinds of things in both our agency and just in general, a lot of companies start to recognize maternal leave and giving it to him and paternal leave. Yeah, I do. I'm not giving myself a little plug here. But I do photography as well on the site, and I was doing a newborn photo shoot last night actually. And the mother is going back after her 12 week, maternity leave, and the Father is staying on paternity leave for a year. His company is supporting him. It's paid paternity leave. And he has a job when he comes back. And I just, I just wanted to clap i that is what we need more we need to supporting all of the parents in this struggle that they have to both be parents and have a career and not have to choose between them. Yeah,
It's tough raising, raising these tiny humans and raising them into being decent humans if you don't have the time to spend with them. And I know that would be extremely difficult, especially you know, someone who gets their foot in the door Instructure firefighting or wildland firefighter it just so first responder, get their foot in the door, get trained, and then decide to have a family and then maybe have to leave because that's the choice he made to have a family instead of just a career. So those adjustments are huge, because I think as we know, training people and getting people trained up to the right level for those right positions is very difficult and very expensive and just very time consuming. So why throw all that away? Exactly. So what else are you seeing in like fires in the wildland world or just in the world of like things that are empowering women?
You know, it's kind of an interesting thing I the hardest part with stuff like this is I can speak to my experience and or the experience of those around me who have shaped had been vulnerable and shared with me. So I always hate to give overarching statements of like what's out there, but I will give you know, my personal experience is there are a lot of hesitation for some women to step into male dominated positions, and industries. And I think wildland is one of them. And there is a hesitation in firefighting in general, because it is definitely like, good ol boy, the little blade system still exists as much as we try and fight it. But from my personal experience, I have not experienced that as much. And I give all the accolades to the women who came before me to pave that way to create an environment in which I feel safe and listen to and feel like I'm an equal part of a team when we go out that I don't feel like I have to raise my voice or that I'm interrupted a way that a lot of women I hear in maybe other male dominated industries or just in the private sector in general, feel like they have to fight for voice at the table, that if I'm on an incident management team running a fire, you know, as the Public Information Officer, I am part of the Command and General Staff and I am listened to and I am heard. And I a lot of that goes to the men that I the men and women that I work with that we have created a good environment of respect and cohesion here. I work on the northern Utah type three team for the most part in the summer, I do travel with some type ones and two teams over the year. But my primary preference, if there is a good fire, there is a big fire season here. I don't want to say good. Definitely. If there is a significant fire season here, there are very few public information officers here along the Wasatch Front. And when we deal with fires. They are usually small type fours and type three fires, but they are almost always threatening catastrophic homes closing infrastructure highways. You know, the last fire I worked on here in northern Utah was the parleys Canyon fire outside of in between Salt Lake and Park City, which had a major thoroughfare closed. As well as about 1500 people evacuated on a 500 acre type three fire than anywhere else. If a 500 acre type three fire happened. It's not usually bothering anyone, usually there's not much media or political attention. But when you have that happening in highly dense population next to wildland urban interface, you have every news station in your face. And, you know, the governor shows up and all you know senators, congressmen, local county commissioners and those kinds of things. And you have to hold public meetings, all of these things that normally happen on a very small fire, like a type three. And so for me as the lead public information officer on that fire, it was imperative that I had a direct line of communication with my incident commanders with my operations section chief, with the people out on the line air ops, because I'm the one fielding all of the questions both from the public and from the media, which is imperative that they get the right information out of is the road closed are what places are evacuated, who was threatened, where can people be? We, you know, thankfully, were able to save all the homes, we were able to get that one under control. But it was a couple of days of chaos, that the only way that that was successful was that the incident commander and all the operations people, air ops and all them who were the majority of them men kept that open communication with me. And for me, I haven't seen that gender gap in the people that I work with. But I do recognize that it is out there and that there are other women that sometimes have to fight a little bit more to have a seat or a voice at the table. But I think one of the benefits of working with continuously with the same groups of people and creating that network and that report is that we know each other's work ethic, they know each other's strengths. They know I'm good at my job and that I'm good at what I do, and that they can trust me with the information and that I'm going to do a service to their team and that the skills that that I bring to the team is invaluable. And I feel that I feel respected and appreciated when I'm working with this local team.
Yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. I didn't get to see you on that fire. I was there.
Yeah, I was a little chaotic. We were laughing yesterday, I think I did 21 news interviews before noon, that first day I just to the point where I had lost my voice. And yeah, I had to, like postpone a few, which I don't love, some PIOs love doing TV interviews. And that is great. That's it's a skill set I have, it's not a skill set I prefer to use if I don't have to. But that was one of the quickest fastest ways to get the information out there was to get on the radio to jump on a news camera that I knew they were going to display this to the entire Wasatch Front, so people would know which areas were closed and those kinds of things. So it's not always my preference of getting information out. But with fires like that, it tends to be the fastest, quickest, most effective way.
Right? And the media is there. Because it's yes, in an area. That's right, you said full of residential homes, and those residential homes are very expensive homes in a very nice area. So it draws even more attention. I think, you know, it's part of what your I hear you saying and what it feels like that, you know, you're you're very confident about your skill set. And I think that also helps bridge that gender barrier when you're confident and you're skilled, that helps bridge that that any kind of gap for them. There might be, I don't have, I have three daughters, and a bonus daughter. So I have a like, for me, a lot of times I don't see or really understand sometimes, you know, the problems that women have, because I would just want my daughter to be empowered to and not let things stop them either. So they have yet to really run into some of that stuff yet, thank goodness. But I think it's people like you that they can look towards, you know, and like you said, the other women that paved the way to create these equal rights for them.
Yeah, it's kind of interesting to watch. I'm obviously very passionate about gender equality. And like I said, I actually I think I'm a more optimistic person. I know that not everyone who considers themselves a feminist maybe sits in the camp where I am, and there's a whole spectrum of them. But for me, feminism is just creating equal opportunity. I have no desire to force someone into a work field or career like we may never see 5050 in fire, wildland firefighting, or in law enforcement, or any of those types of things, because it just might not happen the same way I'm like, we're likely to never see nursing or teaching become 5050, where it's half male, half female. That isn't the goal of feminism, the goal of feminism and of just searching for is creating that equal opportunity for everyone. And one of my things that I love to do in my spare time, because I'm a nerd, is being scholarly articles. And I specifically have my Google Scholar set up to send me articles about gender issues. And it's really interesting, if you go and I'm going to I have I also have a terrible memory. So I'm going to give the best generalizations of what a lot of these studies say. But I'm going to if I throw out numbers, I'm going to preface that they are vague and like close to what they are, but the percentages are not going to be completely accurate. So everyone who's listening to this and watches this later, please take that into account and go look up the article yourself. That even in STEM, you know, I kind of consider wildland firefighting stem, there's so much science that goes into what we do. Yeah, which is not something a lot of people realize that all of the things that we have to in wildland firefighting, when you're talking about fuel moistures and relative humidity, and you know, 1000 hour fuels and 100 hour fuels, I started throwing terms out with other people, and they just their eyes glaze over because I'm not a scientist and they, you know, they we endearingly get called sometimes like knuckle draggers because they don't realize how much intensity goes into what we do in a STEM world. So I do consider wildland firefighting kind of a stem position. And as I do a lot of research about STEM and women in STEM, and then because that's the areas where we're, there's a big push in engineering and science and math to get women out there and to get girls into those that they have been doing studies. And this will continue to be this way. That they you know, these studies are going to change over time as we empower a next generation of women that are at the youngest of ages and kindergarten, first grade, second grade. When children still kind of have their own ideas and mindsets and haven't necessarily been indoctrinated with societal culture. They find that it is almost equal 5050 of girls being interested in STEM math and being good at it being equally as good as the boys
then a lot of times, the girls are actually more naturally skilled at those things. Yeah, for the most part, but by the time they see children getting older where peer pressure matters and where adults have more of an influence rather than just your parents, just mom and dad for the most part of your life, your you know, the beginning of your life, you're with mom and dad, but now you're around other adults, you're around other families, other teachers that they see that number drops significantly from almost equal to women or girls being a little bit better to down to into like the 10s and 20 percents. Because we tell girls, you know, things we tell if you listen, go just pay attention, anyone out there, pay attention the next time you yourself or hear anyone else talking to a little girl, you are so cute. Oh, Princess, you're beautiful. Yeah, we only refer to girls in the way they look. And I catch myself doing it still to this day, that I try and empower the girls in my life by telling them you are so smart, you are so independent, you are so successful. Because I don't see myself telling little boys like you're so handsome. You're just so cute. That's not a thing I do, I'll be like, You're so strong. You're. And it's something I found myself doing. So this is not me pointing fingers at anyone is it was a lot of self reflection as I started reading some of these articles of how we talk to little girls versus how we talk to little boys. And unfortunately, that doesn't change as we get to adulthood. If you go look at men's magazines, and women's magazines, the men's magazines are, be strong, be powerful, earn this money have this career, you can do it. And it's all big, bold reds and blues and colors of power. Yeah, and women's magazines are how to lose weight in 10 days. And here's how to get a bikini body. You know, Botox for everyone. And we still, as a society focus a lot on women's looks and men's ability. And that starts at such a young age. And I found myself being guilty of that of talking to my nieces and nephews in different manners. And I was uncomfortable with it and changed my language. So you know, I always encourage people pay attention next time you're talking to children, how do you refer to them? How do you talk to them, and you're not going to be perfect, I still make mistakes, but do better. Let's be better. And let's empower these young girls, we it's not surprising why women aren't as competent and as strong as the little boys are because we are focusing on different things, we are focusing on their looks. And that's something that they become, you know, women are much more likely to have eating disorders and those types of issues, mental issues, versus young men are more likely to have like anger issues, because they're taught, you know, to be strong and tough and don't cry and those kinds of things that there's mental health issues on both sides, male and female. But it's across the board, it doesn't change when they're seven, it doesn't change when they're 70. We're still pushing the same messages, unfortunately.
Yeah, that's, that's very interesting. I part of what I do as a mindset coach, so I'm listening to you. And I'm like, okay, I can see that. And I can see that. Even as you get older, that is still a problem. People are still talking to each other that way, or talking to their selves that way. self talk is huge, and people are doing just as much damage to everyone else as they are to themselves. By the way they're talking to themselves.
Completely. It's it has been I went through a really difficult time in my mid 20s. And I won't, I don't need to I am not saying this to bash my ex husband, I was married. It wasn't a great marriage. And I was in a really bad bad place mentally. And I also grew up in a society that puts an extra set of pressure on modesty and women's bodies. And I take pause here because things like this are actually really hard to talk about. And I appreciate this safe forum in which I can do so that I had some very severe mental health issues. And thankfully, with the accumulation of a this is not something I actually talked to a lot of people about with a failed suicide attempt. Recognizing that I, I didn't, I didn't go through with it. But it put me in a really interesting place of taking stock of my life and where I was at and realizing I didn't want to continue down that path and without putting blame on anyone or anything or any organization. It was a lot of the situation I I was in. And the way to fix that and help that was I went to a lot of therapy. And, you know, you said, you've seen the transformation in me. And a lot of that I attribute to therapy and to starting to place myself with the right tribes and the right circles and the right groups of people that helped me feel empowered. Rather than that focus on my external looks, and my body. And the control that a patriarchal system has over that. And it took me a lot of years to be able to say that I love my body, I love what my body physically can do, I love that I can go like, hike up a mountain and I, you know, I go do like you go to Angel's Landing or some very strenuous, difficult hike that challenges your body, and I get to the top and just be like, you know, that serious, silly phrase like I a woman, hear me roar, like what my body can do that for many generations. I mean, even my mother's generation, like women's sports, were not a thing. Women were very physically active, like, it's been our generation that has been changing this. And thanks to our parents generation, giving us the opportunity to play sports and all I recognize that the sacrifice came from my parents generation. But women or girls are starting to finally have the power to be confident that I can, I can be just as strong as these men, I can do the same job that these men can do, I can carry that 100 pound pack up the mountain just like these other hot shots are I have not been hotshot, I could not do that. But those types of things where we recognize women are just as capable of doing these things as men are. And so a lot of that competence came from a lot of self work, and self reflection. And like I said, I highly recommend therapy to people it has been the saving is what saved my life, I can absolutely say that with a shorty. And, you know, after my divorce, and were amicable, it wasn't, it wasn't an ugly divorce by any means. It made me realize how much just even the impression of my significant others ideas about my body and me as a person reflected on my confidence level that now that they're no longer is a significant other, I am single still by choice. I, I recognize how much influence like that your partner can have on you. And that is another thing that you know, as I date, and get out into the world a little bit more and spend more time with men, I start to realize how much impact that has on me. And that's one of the biggest things that I can always give advice for to younger women and girls is pick a partner, the only way an independent woman and a strong woman can be successful is to have a supportive partner, either a supportive partner or no partner at all. And I was just actually reading a study this week that talked about how the most depressed, sad suicidal group in the world and especially in the United States is single men.
But on controversy, the most happy fulfilled when group of people in society, specifically America is women is single women. And I don't think that is coincidence. It's very interesting to kind of look at that women, I have created a network, I have all these friends and people in the tribe, and a lot of my guy friends. And a lot of my friends in the fire service, even, they don't always have those other people, they have their significant other, and they have their fire friends. And I do believe that's what creates the camaraderie in fire service. And especially in wildland fire, where some of them, you know, they're working with the same crew all summer, the same 20 crew all summer long, or for me who is working with the same northern Utah, incident management team people for a whole summer and some I mean, some of these people I've been working with since the beginning of my career 18 years ago, that you create that camaraderie and network together, that gives you a safe space to work on that mental health, which is obviously a big issue right now that we are able to talk and it's talking to people who understand the same mental health issues you're going through, it's really hard to go back and go home and talk to someone who works in the business world or works in the private sector and talk about how I just had to deal with 1000 people losing their homes, and that we were the ones that helped notify them. And those kinds of things are when I'm dealing with a fire like the Morgan Canyon fire we had here last year, which was a fatality in a wilderness area of an airplane crash. And we had crews help bringing the bodies out and those kinds of things. But that's not something you can go home and talk to your kids about. So having those resources and that for me has been both male and female. But my confidence, a lot of that comes from learning to communicate well through therapy, learning to find my own flaws and prove myself and recognize that kind of my motto in life is I don't know anything, and I'm always open to any idea. And I have, you know, opinions and beliefs. But I will never say that I know anything again, because my ideals have changed so much. And I become such a stronger person, because I took pause of what I had been taught to believe my whole life about myself and about society. And I thought, You know what, that isn't me, I don't fit into that mold, and I don't want to fit into that mold. And I broke the mold and then started to become a woman that I'm really proud of, and love to be. So I appreciate that even kind of strangers or outsiders have seen recognize that, that I have found myself becoming a woman trying to empower women, and to minimize that gender gap. So that other women and girls have the opportunity to do whatever they want in life. And well, you know, I have a small voice in the world, like literally all five feet of me. I, I can make an impact on if I make an impact on one person that helped that one person better their career or give them the confidence that they need to move up in the world and be something more than they thought they could be. I feel like I've succeeded.
Yeah, yeah. Oh, thank you, you are succeeding. And thank you for sharing. I know how difficult it is to share the story of you know, have suicidal thoughts and trying to take one out, I've been there myself too. So I can relate. And it's, it's, it's emotionally hard to brings up different memories and everything like that. So thank you so much for sharing that. And I yeah, I would, how I noticed the change was, I would notice your Instagram feed, change. And then I was like, oh, something's going on. And I was reading the reading your posts and stuff like that. And I like, so there is like you do you do make an impact in in the world. And then, yeah, maybe it's just through Instagram posts, and through the carrying yourself well out on fires, and all those things, make an accumulative impact and paving the way for other people to be themselves. I think it's very, very hard in this world, and to be yourself to truly, genuinely be yourself. Especially in these types of work, you know, these fields to be yourself and not be judged and disrespected.
Completely, it's, it's been an interesting transition to watch the person that I have become, throughout that, and I do I do take a lot of pride in that. Because it wasn't it didn't just come naturally. It's a lot of hard work. And one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies actually. The league of their own, it's an incredible movie. I if, when people tell me, they haven't seen it, I'm just like, I don't know if I can be friends with you. Is and it's, you know, based on real life, based on real life movie about women's the women's issues struggle clear back during the World War. And when Gina Davis says, it just got too hard. Tom Hanks looks at her. And just kind of with this look of wonderment about her because she is so strong. Yeah, he just says, of course, it's hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. Right. The hard is what makes it great. Yeah. And that is a quote I have hanging on all plants in my cubicle at work. And I have one at my house, it's a quote that I probably use more than any other quote, anything worth doing is going to be hard, right? Anything to get yourself to a better place and improve yourself as a person is going to be difficult, any fight for equality, whether it be gender equality, or racial equality, which is just as much of an issue if not more, so. It's going to be hard and it's going to be a fight. And I do look back at the fight that I have gone through to create the person that I am. And it's almost it's almost like dying, you almost have to kill a version of yourself off. The silly analogy is always like the cocoon and the butterfly is you know, the caterpillar literally has to turn into a pile of mush and goo to create the beautiful butterfly and while that's like a very cheesy, romantic analogy Yeah, I think resides well with any type of growth and change. And for women to become empowered, especially women who have grown up in like a high patriarchal society, where women's voices aren't as important and aren't heard as much to find a voice, in that chaos is an extremely difficult thing to do. And I'm really happy to say that I see a lot of women doing it. And I see a lot of girls kind of questioning that status quo. I taught a little girl about my little girl was asking me, I won't give any personal information, because it's someone else's child, all of that. But someone in my life child asked me about something that we were talking, we were discussing an issue. And I explained to her that it was patriarchy. And she said, what is that? And I was like, Well, this is this. And you know, without going into anything political and trying to ease her mind down a road, he said, It is a system where males voice are the ones in charge, and they are the ones that are heard. And so now the other day, I heard her, like, I'm so proud of this. Someone, she was sitting a certain way. And someone said, Well, that's not lady like, don't sit that way. And she said, Can't ladies sit however they want? And I secretly am over there clapping like yes, they can. Yes, they can. And they said yes, but it just doesn't look right. And she looks at them. And with all the curiosity and like, questioning, and an eight year old little girl says, Is this because of the patriarchy? You know what it was?
I just thought that, you know, I put a little voice in that little girl's head to just looking for it. And without any other coercion. Besides explaining to her what patriarchy was, as eight years old, she started to see that even the way she was being taught to sit was patriarchy. And I was super proud of that moment that I just I really just like, sat with her and like, quiet, because no one else was privy to that conversation. Yeah, those kinds of things. But if you start looking at a lot of the things that women and girls are taught, it has nothing to do with anything except patriarchy. And I'm not bashing men hear I'm not patriarchy hurts. Everyone hurts men just as much as it hurts women. Nobody benefits from that system of inequality. And we look around one of the things that if you just, you know, a lot of people are like, is this feminism still necessary go, you know, this is something I posted on my Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and my stories was I shared what they talked about, like the pink tax, that women's products, for the same exact product, but marketed to women versus men or girls versus boys tend to cost 40% More than I mean, just a bike helmet for a boy and a girl, the same bike helmet, you give all the colors, blue, black, whatever, but if you throw pink or purple, or any of those versions on it, they are 40%, higher razors, you know, just same razor, whatever company I'm not gonna throw a company name, or any of that. But you know, that are out there razors, men versus women, it's the same razor doing the same thing. And women's tend to be 40% Higher, that this is just an everyday thing that everyone has accepted and that nobody really questions until you start to point it out that sexism is still out there. It's it's not something that we're whining about. An abandoned lead like it actually exists. And it's things that we are dealing with day to day. And even you know, I won't go into details here. But like the political things that we're starting to see where, with the change in what the Supreme Court is doing this week, like we're going to be the first generation of women who has fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. And if that doesn't make everyone angry, I don't that's going to affect I mean, it will kill women, women, and girls will die because of this. And I don't know anything else that can empower people to want to stand up and protect other people's rights to their own body and have body autonomy. And regardless of people's religious beliefs. Everyone should have a right to decide what to do with their own body and their own self. And, you know, every time I see something like this going down, I just sit back and think it's because of patriarchy. And if we both men and women can fight this together and work together to break down a system that is harming everyone and create a system of equality where we all have an equal voice and where women are actually equal representation in lawmakers that get to make decisions about their own bodies and about other women's bodies rather than you know, the very high male ratio lawmakers that we see now that are making the majority of In laws for all genders, and that just isn't equal representation is a big deal. And the only people who think representation isn't a big deal are the people who are represented.
Right, right, there's definitely a dress difference of equality back in the interest in government in general in. And I am the kind of just awestruck in a lot of ways, because there's just, it's just over the board, like just a lot of things that have changed in like the last few years. And it's just, it's just mind blowing to me, the more you like, look into things and do your own research, and try to find real, true research and true facts and make your own opinion instead of having media or social media, whichever form of media make your opinion for you. I think that's a huge problem that we're that we're facing. And that's I think that'll be a big problem in trying to find true equality. Unless we can even start there with quality information. I
Well, thank you so much for being on today. Thank you for being a repeat on the on the podcast and sharing your feelings. I know this is completely different than what we talked about last time. But I'm super grateful to have this conversation with you, and I appreciate it.
Well, thank you for having me on. It's been It is an honor to have a voice and be able to talk about things that are important both to the work that I do, as well as the world that we live in. I think a lot of times societally we decompartmentalize a lot of those things, but I am in a workforce that gender issues will probably always be an awareness that I'm paying attention to. And like I said, for me, I have been fortunate to have good experiences, recognizing that that hasn't been the case for everyone. And that not all women experience have the same fortune that I do and that kind of thing. So you know, it's, I will say it again, empowered women, empower women, empower your daughters, empower your wives to give them a voice, one of the best books that people are interested in. Melinda Gates, Bill Gates ex wife, wrote a book called The moment of lift, where she talks about their charitable organization that focuses on women empowerment, and even giving them like reproductive options and those kinds of things in countries, third world countries where they don't have that privilege have the change that they are starting to see where they are giving these women educations. And it's been just a domino effect in a lot of those third world countries to see how just giving them an education and an option of when and where they become mothers rather than just what happens because they aren't they don't have the capabilities to make decisions about their own reproduction and becoming parents. It changes people's lives. And we are at a tipping point, I think in society here where we're starting to get more and more people on the side of equality. And I we're like starting to see that scales tip and I feel very fortunate to be alive and part of a time in which we are making that difference. And that, you know, I recognize that all the weight that's on there comes from all of our predecessors fighting that fight. Yeah. And we're just extra voices in that but giving you know, even you giving your podcast a voice, that feminist movement of creating an opportunity for gender equality and letting people hear it and discuss it. That's what we need. That was more voices out there more opportunities for those voices to be heard, so that we can continue to make a difference in the world.
Yeah, true. Thank you so much, and have hope you have a great day and be safe this fire season and I'll be sure to find you next time if we're on the same fire. Actually, face to face over zoom. Alright, thank you so much. Thank you.
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