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More Men Choosing “Pink Collar” Jobs

More Men Choosing “Pink Collar” Jobs

More men are entering fields traditionally dominated by women, according to a New York Times analysis of 2000 – 2010 US Census data. Occupations that are more than 70 percent female account for about one-third of all job growth for men. The change was already underway before the economic slump and can be attributed to “financial concerns, quality-of-life issues and a gradual erosion of gender stereotypes.”

Once upon a time, men couldn’t be nurses, dental hygienists, kindergarten teachers, receptionists. But now,  12,709 men were registered nurses in 2000 and 22,532 in 2010 in Texas, so that men make up 10.5 percent of nurses there. Men are now 23 percent of public schoolteachers in Texas and make up almost 28 percent of first-year teachers.

More than a third of men entering such “pink collar” professions have college degrees, a shift from those who did in previous decades. From 1970 – 1990, men who took such jobs did so because they had few choices, due to being foreign-born and having limited English skills. The New York Times points out that the recession has played a part. Another article described how a number of men in Michigan, seeing jobs in the auto industry and in manufacturing dwindle and disappear, have become nurses.

These men bring “age, experience and discipline,” says Barbara Redman, Dean of the College of Nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit. Kurt Edwards, an army veteran who used to work at a grocery chain warehouse, now works the graveyard shift as a licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.). The manager of Sheffield Manor Nursing and Rehab Center on Detroit’s west side, LaKeshia Bell, goes so far as to say that male nurses are a “hot commodity” as a “male presence actually helps us in the facility.”

I can attest to that. My teenage autistic son has a male teacher this year and one of the classroom aides is a guy, too. In ways obvious and more subtle, it has helped Charlie to have more guys teaching and assisting him. The majority of special education teachers, therapists and aides are women, in inverse proportion to the number of students (more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism, with the ratio about 4 to 1). Charlie has had many wonderful teachers and therapists who are women but there is something special about having guys as his teachers and aides, who are his height and, in some cases, former athletes, Charlie being nearly 5′ 11″ at the age of 15 and liking to be physically active.

The New York Times interviewed about two dozen men who have chosen “pink collar” jobs; many de-emphasized economic considerations, “saying that the stigma associated with choosing such jobs had faded, and that the jobs were appealing not just because they offered stable employment, but because they were more satisfying.”

“I.T. is just killing viruses and clearing paper jams all day,” said Scott Kearney, 43, who tried information technology and other fields before becoming a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston….

More than a few men said their new jobs had turned out to be far harder than they imagined.

Indeed, this trend of men choosing professions traditionally consider “women’s work” has occurred at the same time as women make inroads into high-paying professions once reserved for men. The entrance of women into the workplace has helped to foster change for both men and women, it’s suggested, with individuals choosing the jobs they’d like to dedicate themselves to because they like them, not because that’s what a man or a woman is “supposed” to do.

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23 comments

+ add your own
9:48AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Wow.

10:24AM PST on Nov 7, 2012

I can't see myself being a truck driver for I am a 5ft woman. I think more men can do more woman's work than the other way around.

9:57PM PDT on May 23, 2012

Gender has nothing to do with the line of work a person has chosen. For as long as they are committed and dedicated to what they do, that's what matters. Women can do the jobs that used to be dominated by men and men can do the tasks that are said to be "for women." Of the bright side that everyone can look at, the Recession and the economic crisis affecting the rest of the world is producing well-rounded individuals. A male nurse, a female fire fighter...a male kindergarten teacher or a female engineer....the good thing is children can learn from these men and women that there are no gender specific jobs. You go guys. You can do it.

4:57PM PDT on May 23, 2012

Yes losing the gender roles

4:53PM PDT on May 23, 2012

Good. Gender should have little to no bearing on career choices. If you are good at something, or if you really love something, go for it

1:22PM PDT on May 23, 2012

my significant other and i worked together as CNA's in a group home. we both were paid the same wage. that was just my experience.

12:52PM PDT on May 23, 2012

thank you :)

12:23PM PDT on May 23, 2012

men and women can do the same jobs it works both ways.

11:25AM PDT on May 23, 2012

I am thankful for the male kindergarten teacher my youngest had. Once he finally got through to my son, it set the rest of his educational career....he's 21 now and doing great.

10:34AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Studies show that when men take up previously pink collar occupations, wages in that occupation rise. I agree that, at first, men may make more than women for those jobs, but, in the end, it pays off for both women and men.

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