Under normal circumstances in Iceland, advertised job openings are not gender-specific.

However, the Akureyri Fire Brigade recently called for applications for two temporary staff positions for the summer, and only women could apply.

"We feel that we need to become more gender-equal around here, and actually, we are obliged to do so. The times are changing, and we need to change as well," says Olafur Stefansson, Chief of the fire brigade in Akureyri, the largest town in northern Iceland. 

Stefansson used a clause in the Icelandic law on gender equality, which allows companies/institutions to use gender-specific criteria in job advertisements, if the intention is to create a more equal balance between men and women in the specific field.

Nationwide, less than 10% of Icelandic firefighters are women. 

As of 8 March, ten women had applied for the two openings this summer, and seven of them had been called in for a physical test.

"This is a job like any other job," says Stefansson. "But people have to be able to perform, to pass a physical test and have a certain mindset to work in a fire brigade. But these abilities can be found in women just as in men."

The two women that will be hired for the summer might become permanent members of the team, due to increased demand for medical transport services by the Fire Brigade.