feminized work

Let’s talk about “feminised” jobs and how it impacts women

Stepping into a day-care reveals a commonality of female employees. When delving deeper into these common roles filled by female-assigned or identifying workers, the issue of pay leaves a sour taste in our mouths. Day by day children are dropped off to be looked after by underpaid employees in a job that rarely offers perks.

These same problems crop up in school-certified teaching positions, nursing fields, and other fields dominated by women.

This is because feminine qualities are often portrayed to be negative. In Russia, doctors are paid poorly because the act of helping others is linked to femininity. The means of becoming a doctor are still demanding, but the trade-off is far from acceptable.

Let us look beyond the spheres of caretaking into professional fields that require a different skill set.

In 2009, Paula England, a sociology professor at NYU, conducted an intensive study on the causal dynamics of pay associated with jobs where women came to work. England states, “It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill or importance…it’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less.”

Paula England
American Sociologist, Paula England

As women became biologists, the median pay fell by 18 percent.

When women became designers, salaries dropped 34 percent.

Those who joined the parks and recreation field drove the average rate of pay down over 50 percent.

Meanwhile, the previous laborious and mundane task of computer programming once belonged to women. And as men began to join the workforce of the field, salaries increased while programmers earned respect.

The gender wage gap in male-dominated fields is still a driving factor. Married heterosexual couples often move based on the location of the husband’s job because the man earns more. Financial security is important for a married couple, so the choice is obvious. But if the wife had better pay and more options, these decisions would not be so cut and dry.

And when we consider how vital it is for single mothers and single women, in general, to earn money to survive – wage gaps seem like a cruel enemy.

Service jobs in general generate less income based on societal prestige and respect for the jobs. But how much does gender play a role in the pay? The argument is that women with families often choose jobs based on the flexibility of hours which means less pay because of the scope of work. In this day, mothers who work are the norm. As a result, society needs to change its treatment of these employees to keep families afloat.

Software pioneer, Mary Allen Wilkes at the world’s first programmable general-purpose computer (1965). Source: NYT/Getty Images

From a personal standpoint, my mother and father separated when I was eleven. We live in the US and at the time my mother only had experience in food service jobs. She moved on to work in a daycare where the pay was abysmal. We scrounged by every month on her wages, but her healthcare benefits were non-existent. She moved on from the daycare to become a teacher’s assistant – the pay was slightly better, but again – no insurance.

For years, she took jobs and went to college to pursue teaching full time.

As a single woman, she put in the same work required of everyone else. She invested in herself, in school, tests, and licensing. And yet, at the end of it all – she was paid next to nothing with the same amount of debt as someone who went to school for accounting.

Over a decade later, she now works for a government-assigned job among women. The head of her department is a man – most of the leadership roles are filled by men while women are often passed over and making less than 40k a year.

But the only reason agency operates is because women fill over ninety percent of the roles there, and yet – every opportunity for growth is given to a man.