Whatever happened to good old-fashioned problems

Men in women's professions: is that still a problem?

Men work in physically demanding jobs or with technology, women feel more comfortable in the social sphere. It is and always will be. Or? No! More and more boys and men are interested - also through initiatives such as Boys Day - in working in “female” professions. We dedicate ourselves to the question of which obstacles men will have to overcome in traditional women's professions in 2019 and how they can become successful despite role stereotypes.

What are women's jobs actually?

First of all: there are actually no female jobs. No one has ever sat down and stipulated that only women may work in certain occupational groups. Then what is the reason for the origin of the term? To explain this to you, we have to go back a bit in history: After industrialization, women were almost exclusively responsible for the household and raising children in their own families. The men, on the other hand, did physically demanding work and earned the money. After the Second World War, many women had to go to work for financial reasons - the family had used up their reserves during the war or the man had died in the war and there was no longer a breadwinner. Since the training of women was still neglected at that time, they turned to those professional groups that were similar to their previous environment. For example, they became educators, nurses or medical assistants and still make up the absolute majority of the sexes in these jobs.

This majority is even reflected in job titles. In everyday life, one naturally speaks of cleaning women, midwives, housekeepers and nurses, but forgets that men also work in these areas. In order to counteract this linguistic phenomenon, the Netherlands, for example, already introduced the expression of the sick brother. In Germany there is a nurse for this.

Fear factor sexuality

Men in women's professions are often said to have said that something might not be quite right with them or that they are presumably homosexual. These prejudices can lead to real problems, especially in professional contact with children - for example as an educator, babysitter or teacher. For example, Stern reported on a kindergarten in Berlin-Reinickendorf, where some parents canceled their children when they found out that a gay educator was being employed.[1] Parents' Fear: A Possible Pedophilia of the Kindergarten Teacher. In this case, the manager of the kindergarten stood behind her employees. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the man has to fight against threatened transfers or even a dismissal and justify himself. Men who dare to work in the female-dominated industries are usually very passionate about their profession and fully support their choice.

The fact that the gender and sexuality of a man in a “female” profession still scares some people and appears to be abnormal shows that we are not clear about the role a man should or must play in society. It could actually be that simple. Everyone can do the job that they enjoy. The absolute dream job, so to speak. Everything easy, if it weren't for the money. The pay in traditional women's professions is sometimes significantly lower than in the tech industry or in production. The positions are often only advertised part-time. To support a family with this salary? Hardly possible. Since, according to the Federal Statistical Office, almost 80 percent of German men are the main breadwinners in the family, they tend to look for high-paying jobs - even if they actually have a fundamental interest in the job.[2]  The fact that men choose professions that are explicitly understood as male can thus reinforce role clichés.

Real changes can only be expected if the traditional women's professions are finally better paid.

The key to success?

Even if our society is becoming more and more tolerant - at least on paper - men in women's professions are still a problem in some areas. The point of view is slowly changing - it has to be that way. In the nursing sector in particular, there is likely to be a greater need for skilled workers in the next few years. Men are also in demand and welcome here. In his assessment of the Hannover Medical School, one kununu user even said that men were given absolute preference in this area.

You also have the opportunity to move up and make money in “female” jobs. As an educator you could one day run a kindergarten, and as a former geriatric nurse you could take over the coordination of your colleagues. As in male professions, it depends on what goals you set yourself and what you make of them.

Either way: You can find your dream job in any industry. Whether you want to become a medical assistant or a banker is entirely up to you. And certainly you shouldn't let old-fashioned gender stereotypes limit you when choosing.




[1] Stern, 2017

[2] South German, 2015