Back in your grandma’s days, lawyer, firefighter, surgeon, technician, and carpenter jobs were for the Dominant Gender. If you happen to be born as the Other Sex, you would have probably been stuck at home because you’re jobless or allowed to work but paid significantly less than your male counterpart. Luckily, women today have come a long way. But have they, really?
Modern Women Doing the Man’s Work
Before women learned to demand equal pay and opportunities, they were stuck working as care providers, educators, and helpers—jobs whose very nature was to nurture. Thanks to fourth-wave feminism and fight for gender equality, many employers across the world are being inspired and encouraged to keep a diverse, if not equal, workforce.
Industries that were once dominated by males are making efforts to hire more females and vice versa. In a recent study by CareerBuilder, 23% of all jobs previously dominated by men are now held by female workers. Over the last eight years, women have been filling roles in the following traditionally male-dominated jobs:
- Commercial and Industrial Designers
- Marketing Managers
- Management Analysts
- Sales Managers
- Producers and Directors
- Coaches and Scouts
Gender Stereotypes in the Modern Workplace
While women are making strides of improvement in terms of pay and career over the last few decades, gender boundaries and stereotypes remain. People still see the Second Sex (as referred to by French writer and political activist Simone de Beauvoir) as more creative, intuitive, and trusting but less credible than the First Sex.
In a 2017 study concerning loan managers—a relatively gender-neutral profession—it was found that an occupation is taken less seriously when a woman worker is involved. Borrowers tend to be more compliant when paired with male loan managers, whereas they were more likely to miss a payment when paired with service providers of the opposite sex.
These gender stereotypes significantly affect a woman’s career path and growth. Because female workers are perceived as more emotional than their male counterparts, managements weaponize this “female trait” and use it against them to question their decision-making and leadership abilities.
Other Challenges Faced by Women in Male-dominated Workplaces
These gender expectations, however, are only part of the bigger problem. Although many of us would like to achieve an employment balance between the genders, there are a few more challenges to tackle other than these biases. According to Catalyst.org, women in male-dominated industries struggle because of the following:
- Societal expectations and beliefs about women’s leadership abilities.
- Pervasive stereotypes, such as that of the “caring mother” or office housekeeper.
- Higher stress and anxiety compared to women working in other fields.
- A lack of mentoring and career development opportunities.
- Sexual harassment.
Another concern is the gender pay gap. While Millennials in the U.S. struggle less with occupational segregation than the previous generations, it was found that the overall pay rate declined when more women entered male-dominated jobs.
Compared to the status of women in the 1950s, female workers today are receiving better pay and opportunities. Although the global workforce is heading in the right direction in this regard, we still have a long way to go to achieve employment balance.