Women Encouraged To Apply For Non-Traditional Jobs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/22/04

Women Encouraged To Apply For Non-Traditional Jobs

Michelle Boney is the only female firefighter in Biloxi. "Women can do this job just as well as the men can," she said.

Boney is proof of that. She's had a Biloxi fire department patch on her sleeve for 11 years. And she's the first female firefighter to wear a captain's badge. "I'm sort of the gal they put up with, I think," she smiled.

Thursday morning, Boney was several miles away from the ladder truck maintenance work taking place at her Veterans Avenue firehouse. While the men raised the ladder 110 feet in the air and tested the firefighting equipment, Boney talked with other women about what it would be like for them to enter a world traditionally reserved for men. "You have to be physically fit at all times to do this job," she told one potential applicant.

The Gulf Coast Business Services Corporation hosted this job forum. A dozen local companies sent representatives to the WIN Job Center in Gulfport.

The forum gave women like Tashanna Murphy a chance to fill out applications for jobs that used to be explored only by men. Murphy said she attended the forum, "Because I want to try to get my little business and stuff started. Get up on my feet and everything."

Mary Lee McNeil is executive director of Gulf Coast Business Services. "The idea is to get folks into other training avenues where they have additional opportunities," she said. "There is another whole world out there for some women."

Michelle Boney has been part of that world for more than a decade. She said the male firefighters "are so used to having me around that they just incorporate me into their everyday lives when they're at the fire department."

Boney has proven the sky's the limit for any woman who's willing to explore new employment horizons.

by Brad Kessie

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