Mannies, Male Nurses, and Pink Ties: The Binary Breakdown Part 2

You may think that men are given preference over women in hiring across the board, and certainly feminism would tell you this is generally true.  Feminism would tell you that women are paid less-~-partly because a woman holding the same job as a man IS likely to have a lower salary, since women’s wages are seen as supplementary to men’s (this will be in another post, I promise), but also because women tend to end up in lower-paying positions like those of secretaries, teachers, personal assistants, etc.

There are certain jobs that society considers “women’s work”: cooking, homemaking, teaching, nursing…basically anything that would require one to be empathetic or particularly patient.  We call these “pink collar jobs”.

Ironically, because pink collar jobs are mores stable than, say, blue collar jobs such as construction and plumbing, the recession hit men a lot harder, resulting in women making up a larger proportion of the work force.

So…would it be so bad if men went for pink collar jobs?

Apparently, as long as you’re bringing home the bacon, it doesn’t really matter if you’re wearing a pink tie while doing it.  A lot of men have started looking at pink collar jobs in the last few years.


Let’s face it: people still make jokes about male nurses (“what, he couldn’t become a real doctor?”).  Male secretaries?  Please.  The butt of so many comical comments.  And mannies?  Just look at the word.  “Mannies”.

On top of that, a lot of people are more comfortable with a female nurse, because they are used to it and there is a presumption that a female nurse will be kinder, more patient-friendly.  And many households specify in ads that they want a female babysitter or nanny-~-I’ve noticed this myself as I have looked for a job.

But why? Are men somehow less capable of taking care of kids?  Do they make bad nurses?  Are they less kind to schoolchildren?

Or is it just that men don’t like to see other men do what is seen as women’s work, lest it happen to them?

And on top of that, the idea that women are just as likely to pursue careers in things like business or politics is often a misrepresentation of what is going on.  Women’s career goals often change as they realize that there are biases in the world of business and politics, that people will not give their ideas as much weight and that they are less likely to be promoted.  (See my writing on this in “Goodbye Sandwich-making, Hello Policy-Making…Sort of”).

Sorry.  I was talking about men here.  Back to men.  The other problem with this is that even women are socialized to believe that these are women’s jobs, and because these pink collar positions come with lower salaries, they are more likely to opt for other romantic partners where possible, because they are looking for a spouse who can contribute more (and whose job will not be the butt of every joke at Thanksgiving dinner).

So what does this mean?  The gender binary is everywhere, even in our job selection.  Retail?  Primarily women.  Fashion? Primarily women, except for a few big names who can get away with it (and you just know they were probably teased in high school and their dads probably wished they played football).  Men who go into fields like nursing and childcare are looked down upon, like they could be doing something better, like this job is beneath them because they are men-~-like they need to grow a pair and get a real job that pays more.

There is no reason why men can’t do these jobs, or why women are better.  It’s just society forcing its ideas on people.  So ladies, don’t give up if you want to go into a “male” field, and gentlemen, if nursing is really your calling, or you think you’re great with kids, be a nurse or a nanny.  The world needs people who are competent at their jobs, regardless of gender.



~ by Randi Saunders on November 16, 2011.

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