Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Girls Doing Stuff

I'm following two different blogs where two 16 year old girls are trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Jessica hasn't seen another person for four months. Her boat got knocked down in the Southern Ocean. But she continued on.

I think about when I grew up and how impossible that would have been to imagine, at sixteen years old, sailing alone out of sight of land. I didn't know any girls who did anything brave at all. When I started fighting fire in the '80s, it was common to be the only woman on a twenty person crew. The first recorded woman on any fireline was 1970, after all, and many men tried mightily to keep women out. Sometimes, they still do. When I was a wilderness ranger in the Sawtooths, people reacted with amazement: "You're alone out here? Aren't you scared?" I somehow doubt they asked my fellow rangers, Doug and Jack, the same question.

I almost didn't get hired to work remotely in the desert canyons of Steens Mountain because one of the guys doing the hiring just couldn't believe that a woman could do the job. I hope that I helped open some doors for women who followed me, just as I was grateful to slip through the ones all the women before me left cracked open.

Sail on, Jessica and Abby!


  1. Loved this one...women do stand on the shoulders of those who stepped out on nothing and followed their dreams. It's great to recognize that, and to be one who draws forward the next women of any age, You do that!

  2. Oh you totally have. I'm glad you are a door opener rather than a make-it-difficult-because-it was-for me person. Thank you.

    Also, did you see that letter from 1968? Girls don't have he-man muscles to fight fire and all that nonsense.


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