Poll: Men, Are You Working in Occupations Once Dominated by Women?

A recent New York Times article highlighted a shift in the American economy: men are now entering jobs that were once dominated by women. The phrase “women’s work” is becoming obsolete as men are now going to school for dental assisting, dental hygiene, nursing, early childhood education, etc.

I find the phrases “pink collar jobs” and “pink collar work” perfectly ridiculous. (I’m also not fond of the terms “blue color jobs” and “white color jobs” but that’s a conversation for a separate article.) Attaching a person’s gender to an occupation is archaic. What’s between our legs should not be relevant to our education / employment endeavors. Ability and passion for the industry should dictate a career choice, not gender.

The deconstruction of gender stereotypes in all aspects of our society as well as our industries is thrilling. Diversity in the American job market benefits everyone. Men, are you working in a field that was once dominated by women? If not, would you consider entering these occupations?

photo: 8bitjoystick / flickr

About Nicole Johnson

Marketing Maven » Sales Consultant » Brand Builder » Energetic Entrepreneur » Networking Enthusiast » Writer » Wife » Good Men Advocate


  1. CosmicDestroyer says:

    Worked in a “female dominant” field for 3 and a half years. Some choice episodes,

    I had reservations about being made to scrub and mop the floors, during business hours with the lights off, a middle-aged female employee screamed at me to “grow up” and stormed out . I was the one who got in trouble with our male department head.

    Another (much older) woman stuffed her hand down my pants because my (much too small) uniform shirt had become un-tucked while I was serving coffee. The other women on duty seemed to think it was funny.

    Had a female supervisor who pressured me into dating her sister. This one also like to use the word “fag”.

    Had another female supervisor who made me finish my shift off the clock because she felt I was too slow.

    Another two female employees had me written up because I refused to work though an unpaid lunch break.

    Had a third female supervisor who made me take time away from my busy station to cover her own assigned garbage duties so she could take a longer break. I happened to pass her on the way out, she claimed I was passive-aggressive by taking the trash out to the dumpster while she could see it.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      Just goes to show: Assholery is an equal opportunity profession 😉

      • Uh, not quite, Peter. One of the defining features of pink-collar is the relatively low wages. RN is top of the heap for pink collar, and the wages are still junior-professional for “real”, read white-collar, professions. RN also means working conditions and a place on the institutional hierarchy that no white-collar professional would tolerate. When we get as many white-collar women assholes as we’ve got male counterparts, we can talk about equal-opportunities.

  2. Areas like “pink collar” jobs are where I actually agree, to a certain extent, with feminism’s idea of the “glass elevator.” But it usually doesn’t seem as strong as feminists make it out to be.

    But of course, if they say a glass elevator is exclusive to men, that’s complete rubbish. I’ve been involved in math, physics, engineering, and technology for quite some time. It’s common to hear that these fields discriminate against women because so few women are involved in these fields. In engineering, women are highly encouraged to get involved. At my school, we have a club dedicated to getting women interested.

    But, even though our ratio of women to men is 70%-30%, less than 1% of our engineering students are women. Why? Disinterest. I usually have great difficulty finding women on campus who are personally interested in the topics. They have the ability, for sure. The women engineering students I know are some of the most organized of our students, and while some have trouble grasping physical concepts (Statics, Mechanics), they tend to do better at abstract concepts (Chemistry, Thermodynamics).

    It’s bit of a shame not having them around, because they’re more than welcome. but it isn’t a matter of discrimination or ability. It’s almost entirely a matter of disinterest, as with most gender-dominated careers.

    • Web, there’s a painful amount of research about why there aren’t more women in STEM fields, esp. engineering and math, and why the undergrads leave. There are also blogs galore on the subject written by women in these fields. Please read some of them. You needn’t be so mystified. It’s not about “disinterest”, it’s about the fact that the environment (still) sucks for women in these fields. It sucks socially, it sucks professionally, and eventually it sucks familywise. And the men in charge of these fields are frankly not interested in changing what’s worked for them.

      A few weeks back I went to talk to a local grad advisor about an MS hard-science program. I’ve been in and out of science for a decade, I work in sci comm, and it would be convenient for me professionally to have the advanced degree. The attitude I got from this guy — which was reflective of the department’s — made me want to puke all over their largely-unfunded grant proposals. I couldn’t believe it. Here I am, mid-career, a single mother, and this guy thinks he can lecture me on “commitment”. Why? Because I see no reason to blast through the program at a pace that will leave me a physical wreck, my career with a hole in it, and my child neglected. Double the expected time to graduation and we can talk. This is an R1 institution, and even here, the macho bullshit hard-men-of-science attitude is insane. So nuts, in fact, that even when I’m offering to *pay this beleaguered dept money* rather than screw up their funding structures, they still don’t want to take someone who’s going to be “slow” to finish. Nope, gotta be a monk if you want to be a scientist.

      Well, screw that. It’s stupid and unnecessary. Because I’m not an uncertain 22-year-old, I know it’s stupid and unnecessary and am willing to say so — which surprised the hell out of the grad guy, who eventually admitted that yes, this is an institutional-mindset problem. Will they bend? Probably not. It means I’ll probably buy a degree online, getting an unnecessarily bad education, and further devaluing the precious MS.

      Does the attitude help the department, no. Good luck to them in boosting their grants-funded rate into double digits. Maybe I’ll visit some of those faculty after their dept’s been broken up and they’re scattered among medical-campus depts. If still employed. But this is how rigid they are: they can’t bend to current realities of their customers’/lab-slaves’ lives, can’t reorient themselves.

      Start with MIT’s gender-equity studies in engineering of about a decade ago and move forward from there.

  3. Eric M. says:

    I work for one of the largest technology companies in the world, and we have more men than women but women are well represented. For instance, we are many times (20 or more) more white women than black men.

  4. My dad was taken care of by some awesome male ICU nurses after his open heart surgery (perhaps having extra male muscle strength makes patient care easier: lifting, transferring, rolling, chest compressions, etc.) ….And so was my BFF after her surgery….her ICU nurse was married to another one…so that was pretty cool….it’s definitely hard work and requires much stamina, strength, and patience….! Very macho stuff, if you ask me!

  5. not sure if dominated is the best word to use here – it implies that one gender has the power or the top postions, where what you mean I think is occupations that are represented by the majority of one gender. For instance education may be mainly occupied by women but men may often be the headteacher/principle or the counselling world is mainly occupied by women, but it is men who write the books and often have the top positions.

  6. Confidential says:

    I would be, but I had the bad luck of being the only male in a placement where they had positions for all but one student,and a female HR. So I’m doing day labour at a temp agency
    (I realize this next bit isn’t on-topic but I know what I just said was offensive to somebody)

    Ordinarily I would not actually make the assumption that it was based on gender. However my SSW course was taught by 8 female staff who made the kinds of jokes about men that men might have made in the 80s about women, and we were actually taught (as in had to answer on a test) that women abused because they were working through past abuse and men abusing was a symptom of patriarchy.

  7. Andrew Smiler says:

    I think the NYT is mostly passing on the real reasons for this shift – economics – and trying to divert our attention by making it about gender. More here:

  8. “(I’m also not fond of the terms “blue color jobs” and “white color jobs” but that’s a conversation for a separate article.”

    Pink-collar work does not exist per se. It’s a neologism based on nothing.

    Blue-collar is based on the clothing color typically associated with work in mechanics and other dirty-ing work that is done with the hands. This throw-away clothing that is bound to get stained to death, is blue-colored. Says nothing about men being there.

    White-collar is based on people working there primarily wearing shirts or blouses, hence their collar is by default white (could be another color, but no uniform most of the time). Nothing about the sex of people working there. Or race if someone saw that.

  9. While I also think that the terminology “pink collar job” is pretty ridiculous, I think that it’s also important to identify female-dominated professions and work to reduce gender-typed language in these professions (just as we should in male-dominated professions). I’m a speech pathologist (96% female as of 2007), and I find the number of blogs that use metaphors specific to women (“harder than finding the right color lipstick”, “less comfortable than running in heels”, etc) off-putting – there’s an assumption that the reader will be female. Much in the same way that professionals in male-dominated fields like engineering have been encouraged to be respectful of both genders in communication by first identifying the fields as male-dominated with females as a growing group, female-dominated professions need to identify themselves as female dominated with a growing male minority and adjust communication choices accordingly so as not to make males feel like an out-group. Using the “pink-collar” term may not be the best way to identify them, but the first step is to identify them.

Speak Your Mind