Ah, the patriarchy. The song used to say, “This is a man’s world,” however, stereotypical ‘male” jobs are on the sharp decline. The jobs that are on the rise? So-called ‘pink-collar work’, or occupations that usually employ women. Think health aides, nurses, or jobs in the service industry.
However, the New York Times reports that men aren’t flocking to these jobs as they practically should. In fact, more than a fifth of American men aren’t employed at all. On an objective level, some might say that’s just silly. Having said that, there is no underestimating the stigma that comes with doing a job that’s perceived as ‘women’s work’.
Why is this happening?
Let’s wind it back a little. When you were growing up, were you ever told certain jobs were for men and other jobs were for women? For example, men became doctors and women grew up to be nurses. Take that. Combine it with the repeated rhetoric that things that are perceived to be ‘female’ are inherently weaker and less worthy. What do you get? Children who grow into adults who look at pink-collar work as lesser.
The stigma is pretty entrenched. A study published in April 2016 explored what happens when men make a lateral move into pink-collar work. The results weren’t pretty. In fact, men in the lowest-rung jobs like nursing assistants earned 10 per cent less than men on the same level in a blue-collar job. The bright side? Men in pink-collar jobs were actually less likely to be laid off, and saw a significant rise in wages over time. Blue collar wages, however, mostly stayed the same.
“Traditional masculinity is standing in the way of working-class men’s employment,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins University told the Times. “We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market.”
Speaking of the job market, how is it actually changing?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two jobs predicted to decline the fastest from 2014 to 2024 are locomotive firers (declining 70 per cent) and vehicle electronic installers and repairers (declining 50 per cent). Respectively, they are 96 per cent and 98 per cent male.
Meanwhile, the fastest growing jobs are overwhelmingly female. Jobs such as occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants and home health aides are seeing an especially sharp increase. Care jobs in general are rising by 30% or higher, and are generally over 68% female.
This is despite the fact that, as we covered earlier, pink-collar work tends to be more stable. Don’t try to convince working-class men that, though. Joan Williams, law professor at U.C. Hastings comments:
“White working-class men’s wages have plummeted, and what happens to men in that context is anxieties about whether they’re ‘real men'” she said.
*Sigh*. Toxic masculinity continues to rear its fragile, ugly head, it seems. Here’s to hoping a paradigm shift happens in the near future, decreasing the stigma against pink-collar jobs so we can all just get on with our happy, employed lives.
Feature image © CreateHERstock
GIFS via Giphy