The gender lines are blurring in many occupations that were previously dominated by one sex or the other. And, this is a good thing. When people pursue careers based on interests and abilities, everyone benefits.
According to a CareerBuilder survey, women are moving into occupations that were previously dominated by men, while men are entering roles that were traditionally held by women.
Women Gaining Ground in Male Occupations
The table below shows the percentage of women and men in male-dominated occupations in 2017, and the percentage of women added from 2009-2017:
|Occupation||Women||Men||Women added (2009-2017)|
|Commercial & Industrial Designers||46%||54%||48%|
|Producers and Directors||41%||59%||42%|
|Coaches and Scouts||38%||62%||41%|
|Private Detectives & Investigators||42%||58%||41%|
|EMTs and Paramedics||37%||63%||40%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||35%||65%||34%|
|General and Operations Managers||29%||71%||33%|
Men Gaining Ground in Female Occupations
On the other hand, men have been gaining ground in these jobs that were traditionally dominated by women.
This table shows the percentage of women and men in female-dominated occupations in 2017, and the percentage of men added from 2009-2017:
|Occupation||Women||Men||Men Added (2009-2017)|
|Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria||61%||39%||64%|
|Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers||55%||45%||59%|
|Education Administrators, Postsecondary||61%||39%||49%|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||80%||20%||49%|
|Insurance Sales Agents||56%||44%||43%|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||57%||43%||42%|
|Accountants and Auditors||59%||41%||41%|
|Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors||59%||41%||40%|
|Training and Development Specialists||60%||40%||39%|
|Human Resources Managers||62%||38%||37%|
|Public Relations Specialists||63%||37%||36%|
Does this mean there’s less gender bias when it comes to hiring and choosing career paths?
A Sign of the Times?
James R. Bailey, a professor and the Stacy and Jonathan Hochberg Fellow of Leadership Development at the George Washington University School of Business and a Fellow in the Centre for Management Development at the London Business School believes that the self-selection gender bias is fading.
“What’s most important about the last few decades is that previously stereotyped jobs have been revealed to be essential elements of advancing human welfare and organizational aims – and those jobs have been elevated to the status of profession.”
And now that some traditionally female roles are viewed as more professional, they are more lucrative. “The old secretary is the new office manager or executive associate; what was a nurse – generally female and subject to the direction of generally male physicians – is now a nurse practitioner, often the most important link in the health care chain.”
In addition, Bailey explains, “The kindergarten teacher is now recognized as an educator; one who research shows is indispensably important to a child’s development – and now, men see these occupations as honorable contributions, and it doesn’t hurt that those occupations are better paid than in the past.”
Regarding traditionally male occupations, Bailey explains, “CEO decision-making qualities are more balanced and less competitive and judgement trumps gender – it’s worth noting that for two years in a row, S&P 500 female CEOs are compensated more generously than their counterparts.”
And he believes that companies and consumers are looking for individuals who can add the most value.
“Medicine is now a team practice, and good doctors want to be surrounded by good doctors; patients feel the same way – a colonoscopy is a colonoscopy, so just let me know if there’s any sign of intestinal cancer.”
So, Bailey concludes that the gender bias is declining – not because of some social justice phenomena. Instead, it is driven by the market. “It is fading because of the professionalization of positions that require high-performing, highly skilled people.”
Andrea Graziani, CMO of DUFL, believes she’s been very fortunate to work for people who were focused more on an employee’s strengths and abilities than on gender, creating opportunities based solely on merit.
Regarding the advances in male-dominated roles, Graziani says, “I’d like to think that the increase in the percentage of women taking jobs that were formerly dominated by men demonstrates that women are not only interested in holding those positions, but no longer feel restricted in the careers or industries that they choose.” She admits that when she was in high school, girls wanted to be teachers, secretaries, and nurses. “Today, women can – and do – aspire to be anything they want, and I would like to think that the male versus female culture is a thing of the past.”
However, not everyone is as impressed by the survey’s results. According to E. Michele Ramsey, associate professor of communication arts & sciences and women’s studies at Penn State Berks, “It’s important to think about intersectionality in discussing these issues.”
Ramsey explains that both race and class have a role to play in these shifts.
“It tends to be upper class and educated women who are making strides in male-dominated fields, not all women.” And she agrees with Bailey that the men that have moved into roles traditionally held by women have done so as the wages have increased in these areas.
Ramsey says that throughout history, the wages for “women’s jobs” tend to rise when men enter those fields, and then men start to make up a larger portion of those occupations. Computer science or computing is one field that was dominated by women, but then wages increased, and now women are in the minority.
“In terms of other positions, such as chefs or interior decorating, it’s been the case that while more women are in these kinds of jobs overall – and certainly do more of this as labor in the home – men tend to be valorized more often as ‘great chefs’ and promoted on TV shows like Nate Berkus or Oprah’s former show.”
Ramsey says this doesn’t mean that men aren’t great cooks, or that Berkus isn’t a great designer. “However, when you see these professions highlighted in the media, they tend to highlight males, so even though females tend to do more of this labor inside and outside the home, men are valorized as the best examples in these professions.”