Women Doing Men’s Work

Are there women doing men’s work or women doing jobs traditionally held by men? Conversely, are there men doing women’s work, or men doing work traditionally completed by women? How you phrase the question, and how others hear you voice it, will either potentially brand you as sexist or possibly progressive.

In the position I held previously as a Social Services Caseworker, I learned that the job was designated as a female classed position. Being a male, I was essentially a man in a traditionally female dominated profession. Did it bother me at all or somehow cause me to doubt my manhood in some bizarre or very real way…not even the slightest.

There are many differences working in jobs that are traditionally carried out by one sex or the other, and let’s not forget that there is a minority of people reading this that would argue there’s more than just the two sexes nowadays anyhow! The bi-sexual, transgendered, queer, lesbian, gay etc. populations would want their standing recognized in this discussion too.

I have found that most of my career to date has been working with and reporting to females. I think that has predominately been because Social Services work has historically been carried out by those that nurture and care for others and women more than men proven over time have been quick to take on these roles.

In other professions, such as the Construction industry, the number of men on the payroll of a company would be 100% or close to it in many companies until very recently. And while Social Services employees have been welcoming to men relatively quickly, there still exists by the reports I get, a great deal of resistance to women in Construction positions. This resistance might be evidenced in sexist comments, doubts about physical strength, crude jokes, and initiation rites of passage. This in turn has led to some women forming their own ‘female only’ construction crews so they don’t have to endure the taunts, teasing and insults.

Now the title of this blog was meant to provoke a response that would result in more people reading today’s topic. Did it work on you as a new reader or are you a regular? No matter what your sex is, thinking about the environment you want to work in should include at least in part, some thought about the people you will work with, report to, and deal with as customers and clients. And when thinking about those people, the prevalent sex of those people might be something you take into consideration.

Working for someone of either sex who has a bias for one sex or the other might hinder or help you out, create a positive or negative setting, and the culture of the workplace may or may not tolerate what later you might regard as harassing behaviour. In the past, workers in some industries resented strongly the idea of the opposite sex in the workforce. However, once a person proved he/she could do the work without modification or lower expectations, co-workers were more receptive. And thank goodness for that!

What’s really important I believe is to watch your language and avoid words that tarnish an entire population of people, especially when if you thought about it, it’s not really what you believe. So statements like, “Women just don’t belong here, this is a man’s job”, or “Guys are just so immature and are only after one thing” really say much more about the person speaking than they do about the entire opposite sex.

I once had a woman I worked for turn to me in a lunchroom and say, “I don’t know how you can stand working with all us women, all of us clucking away in a henhouse”. I just smiled and kept my mouth shut because while yes the room was full of women other than myself at the time and many conversations were going on, saying something might have been misread as a belief I had that all women talk non-stop, which is not what I believe. So even appearing to agree could have been read as the opinion wasn’t hers, but rather mine.

So what’s it like in your current and ideal workplace? A nice mixture of the sexes or a majority of one or the other? When thinking of your next Supervisor, do you have preference for male or female and if you do why do you suppose that is? I’ve worked for both men and women, and personally have found the men were more threatened by my assertiveness and self-confidence. Women on the other hand, I have found to be interested in helping me move forward by and large, although I’ll admit two females I worked for were very controlling and I think in retrospect perhaps had a need to dominate those who worked for them, male or female.

And perhaps, just perhaps, a broad generalization of differences in people based on sex isn’t even really appropriate. After all, in a perfect society it shouldn’t matter perhaps what sex the boss or co-worker is, whether they are blonde or a redhead, physically challenged or not, drive a car or walk to work, etc. Maybe it would all come down to their ability to do their job; and that job wouldn’t be classified as female or male in the first place. One can but hope.

Have a great day.


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