No, I’m serious, if women all got together and went into electrical engineering or automotive repair en masse, then ten years later people would be talking about how it was a “soft field” and it would pay proportionately less than other fields.
Likewise, if men moved en masse to bedeck themselves in sparkles and make-up, then suddenly you’d get a bunch of editorials talking about how classy they look.
None of these things are inherently masculine or feminine; none of these things inherently elevate you or drag you down. But whatever women are seen to do is automatically seen as being inherently more frivolous than anything men do. And shaming women for not pigeonholing themselves into a narrow range of acceptable “masculine” behaviours is just going to result in the goalposts getting moved once again.
Also happened/ is happening with the fields of biology and psychology….
I honestly wonder how much of the backlash against public education in the last generation has been due to teaching becoming a woman-dominated profession.
Fashion used to be a men’s thing. Then women got involved in the late 17/1800’s, so men went the other way because it came to be seen as “frivolous” and “anti-intellectual” to care about how you looked. Add in the homophobia that arose around that time, bam, staid bland dress. Ditto leggings/tights, that are now called attention-whoring when on men they were required to show you cared about your figure and had the money to pay for such a fitted item.
People want to say misogyny doesn’t exist, that male privilege doesn’t exist. Look beyond “living memory” and you’ll find that’s what drives the “inexplicable reversals” society seems to make on many things. Hell, just look beyond your own society, and you’ll find out that what’s considered “for men” elsewhere is held in high esteem while here it’s scoffed at purely because it’s “for women”:
- Skinny jeans are the height of masculinity in several east Asian societies, rather than being seen as “gay” in the USA because of their association with femininity.
- Medical fields in Russia are valued like kindergarten teachers are here, because it’s women who are the doctors instead of men.
- Love and romance are highly valued in eastern countries, because men are interested in it too—of course they would be, surely you want to share your life with someone? Here, it’s strictly a women’s subject.
The field of anthropology as a whole illustrates this.
Significantly higher proportions of females compared to males are currently entering the fields of archaeology and biological anthropology, and as this occurs, the prestige, funding, acceptance as valid kinds of science, etc, are fading quickly.
This has already occurred with linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology in particular went VERY quickly from being seen as a manly, scientific discipline (e.g., Franz Boas, Bronisław Malinowski) to being seen as a touchy-feely female thing.
Let’s examine a traditionally male-dominated role that is very well-respected, and well-paid, in many parts of the world — that of a doctor. In the UK, it is listed as one of the top ten lucrative careers, and the average annual income of a family doctor in the US is well into six figures. It also confers on you significant social status, and a common stereotype in Asian communities is of parents encouraging their children to become doctors.
One of my lecturers at university once presented us with this thought exercise: why are doctors so highly paid, and so well-respected? Our answers were predictable. Because they save lives, their skills are extremely important, and it takes years and years of education to become one. All sound, logical reasons. But these traits that doctors possess are universal. So why is it, she asked, that doctors in Russia are so lowly paid? Making less than £7,500 a year, it is one of the lowest paid professions in Russia, and poorly respected at that. Why is this?
The answer is crushingly, breathtakingly simple. In Russia, the majority of doctors are women. Here’s a quote from Carol Schmidt, a geriatric nurse practitioner who toured medical facilities in Moscow: “Their status and pay are more like our blue-collar workers, even though they require about the same amount of training as the American doctor… medical practice is stereotyped as a caring vocation ‘naturally suited‘ to women, [which puts it at] a second-class level in the Soviet psyche.”
What this illustrates perfectly is this — women are not devalued in the job market because women’s work is seen to have little value. It is the other way round. Women’s work is devalued in the job market because women are seen to have little value. This means that anything a woman does, be it childcare, teaching, or doctoring, or rocket science, will be seen to be of less value simply because it is done mainly by women. It isn’t that women choose jobs that are in lower-paid industries, it is that any industry that women dominate automatically becomes less respected and less well-paid.
This is literally what happened to basically every field women have entered. The opposite happens when men enter. Computers used to be a “woman thing” until the guys who did it got really mad about how badly their job was viewed and realized they could fix it by forcing out women.
Look at the world of food. Cooking is seen to society as an inherently female job/responsibility, yet when it comes to professional cooking, it is dominated by male chefs and women have to fight for any kind of success and respect in the professional kitchen. Men decided being a pro chef was a dude’s thing and shoved women out and now women are seen as less capable in the kitchen even though at home they are far and wide seen as the only ones capable of cooking for their families. Cooking for families – female job, cooking for money – male job. It’s absurd.
Nursing. There’s a colloquial word for men who become nurses: “Murse.” It’s on t-shirts and I’ve heard it multiple times from multiple sources.
Men in nursing are an “outlier” because it’s a “caring” profession. Men in nursing are perceived as tougher, stronger, and more capable than the women who have received the exact same training. Men who are nurses are asked, “Why aren’t you a doctor?” I hate that I sometimes have to rely on my male coworkers to defuse a tough situation because men are generally more respected and feared than women in any profession. People will ignore my “come to Jesus” talks but will immediately praise me as “kind and compassionate” if I soften my voice and wheedle them to do what needs doing.
Look, I am not above playing whatever role I need to play to get shit done, take care of my people and ensure patient safety. But there is a UNIVERSE of difference between the way male and female nurses are treated, and none of it is productive, for any gender.