If you were to imagine a typical firefighter, chances are you'd picture a white man in firefighting gear—and there's a good reason for that. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 96% of career firefighters in the U.S. are male and 82% are white. Firefighting has long been a white male dominated field for various reasons—but in some places that's starting to shift.


Meet the newest firefighters of Prince George's County, Maryland, who are flipping the image of a stereotypical firefighter on its head. A viral Instagram photo shared by BecauseOfThem shows eight black female firefighters posing in their gear, looking like fierce firefighting goddesses.

Do these women actually fight fire with fire? Because fire is all we see here.

RELATED: People argue that women aren't strong enough to be firefighters. Here's why they're wrong.

The photo is striking, partially because it's simply not what we're not used to seeing in an image of firefighters. Why fire departments are so heavily white male dominated is a question without a clear answer, but one cities have started exploring. For example, the Los Angeles Times looked into the LAFD's efforts to increase the department's diversity to more closely represent the demographics of the community it serves. Those efforts have largely failed, but why? Is it a self-perpetuating issue of representation? Is it a problem with bias or nepotism in hiring or recruiting? Is it that women and/or non-white Americans aren't interested in being firefighters? A little of all of the above?

On possible reason for Prince George's County's influx of black female firefighters might be who it hired as fire chief. Tiffany Green, former deputy chief, took over the department as acting fire chief this summer after her predecessor retired. She is the first female to lead the department, and she happens to be black as well.

Research shows that representation makes a difference in education and in media, so it's not a stretch to think that it matters in various career fields as well. If people don't see themselves reflected in certain professions, they may not even think to pursue those professions. Women have faced a lack of representation in many fields, as more women have entered the work force in full-time careers in the past couple of generations. But some fields, such as nursing, have had to overcome a lack of male representation as well.

The more we challenge the stereotypes of what certain professions look like, the easier it will be for all kids to imagine themselves in any career.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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