chapter  7
Toeing the Line or Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Pages 20

So we cannot think of womanhood or manhood as fi xed by nature. But neither should we think of them as simply imposed from outside, by social norms or pressure from authorities. People construct themselves as masculine or feminine. We claim a place in the gender order-or respond to the place we have been given-by the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life. (Connell 2010, 6)

To the non-academic, male-dominated crowd in attendance at the conference, however, the argument of a fi xed gender dichotomy in human life or character was compelling, as it confi rmed their culturally defi ned masculine rights (Kahan et al. 2007). The talk was providing all the proof needed not to make an eff ort to accommodate women within the patrilineal stronghold of the fi re fi ghting tradition because the ways in which women and men think, feel, orient and communicate are, according to Allan Pease, biologically determined, permanent and irreconcilable. Standing in the back row of the conference auditorium, I was emphatically reminded that hegemonic masculinity is alive and well today. The biologically deterministic core argument performed on stage fi tted squarely with the cultural norms that continue to challenge equal opportunities for women and men in the fi re fi ghting vocation.