Workin' beside the boys

Long Beach women excel in male-dominated careers

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"It's a boys' club," laughed officer Judy Parisi of the Long Beach Police Department, who is one of five female officers on the force. "It's definitely not girly."

Despite being part of a small minority in a department with approximately 80 officers, Parisi, who was also the force's first Hispanic hire, said she isn't treated any differently by her peers. "Within the house, everything is equal," she said, adding that her fellow officers expect her to utilize her training as well as any male in the department.

Parisi acknowledged, however, that sometimes when she is on patrol, a female senior citizen will seem surprised by her occupation and ask if she's ever scared. That reaction is the product of a different generation’s more traditional way of thinking, she said.

"I don't think a lot of women view this as a position that they dream about," said the petite Parisi when asked why more women don't go into law enforcement. The 29-year-old has been on the Long Beach force for five years after spending three years with the New York City Police Department.

She is one of many women who make a living in male-dominated lines of work. Long Beach construction inspector Brooke Anderson of Huntington is another, and says she works not only "in a job dominated by men, but in an atmosphere dominated by men."

As an inspector, Anderson's responsibility is to make sure contractors build according to specifications approved by the city. "It's a fabulous life to live and it's the greatest job anyone could want," said Anderson, who has worked for the city for two years. "But I had to overcome a lot of things."

While she gives the city and the contractors she works with glowing reviews for treating her fairly, Anderson admits that when she worked in New York City before coming to Long Beach, some of her peers and contractors refused to work with her because of their religious beliefs. "Many times I stormed off a job site," Anderson recalled. "I'm on equal footing here. They respect my experience."

While Nancy Black isn't paid as a firefighter with the Long Beach Fire Department, she is one of only 10 women who volunteer — and one of only two who fight fires. Eight others are part of the city's emergency medical service system.

Black, an emergency medical technician in New York City, grew up in a fire department family in Seaford, and joined the Long Beach department 10 years ago. "Of course there's always chitter chatter," she said, adding that, overall, she has had a positive and supportive experience. "If I said I couldn't do something, they'd teach me." Because of the physical nature of the job, she said, women have to learn to do things a little differently, and push themselves a little harder.

Financial advisor Barbara Mosca says that in the nearly 30 years she has been working in the industry, she has seen many more women become brokers. As the owner of an Edward Jones Investments firm, Mosca, a Long Beach resident, is part of a company initiative to bring more women into the world of finance.

"Women are terrific at listening and being compassionate," said Mosca, adding that her research shows that "women prefer to do business with other women."

Mosca began her career in the financial industry at a brokerage firm, where she worked with clients, but didn't see the paycheck the brokers were receiving. After two years, she talked herself into a broker's job.

She said that women who get involved in finance need to have thick skin, and she has used humor when her male coworkers make inappropriate comments. But the industry offers more flexibility for women than others, she said, which allows her to balance her work and her personal life.

"I believe that in my industry," Mosca said, "you have to be passionate about what you do, and you have to be persistent."

Comments about this story? JKellard@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 213.