This guest post from job search expert Nina Pączka looks at the results of a 2023 study on career stereotypes. The findings might surprise (and sadden) you. When it comes to gender and jobs, stereotypes still exist. Please leave your reactions in the comments section below!
Guest post: Perceptions of gender, stereotypes, and job choices
Gender stereotypes have long influenced how we perceive career paths, leading to imbalances in the representation of women and men in different fields. Despite progress made towards gender equality, women often still face different pressures and expectations when it comes to choosing their profession. From an early age, people are exposed to societal norms and beliefs that shape their opinions of certain professions and what job is appropriate.
Being a truck driver? Great, but only for a boy.
Preschool teacher? Perfect for a girl.
That’s because we still face gendered jobs.
Data shows that 5.4% of men work in women-dominated occupations, while around 6.5% of women work in men-dominated professions.
In practice, this means that the chances of meeting a woman truck driver are small, just as a man working in a kindergarten (unless he’s a maintenance worker).
Having that in mind, MyPerfectResume conducted a study examining what role gender plays in the world of work. What are people’s beliefs when it comes to gender and career? Can men be a babysitter while it’s okay for a woman to be a professional driver?
Does gender matter?
In 2023, 82% of research respondents still believe that jobs have a gender.
We associate babysitters, home health aides, or nurse/medical assistant careers with women. At the same time, being a police officer, truck driver, construction worker, or electrician is more a man thing.
Does this mean limiting opportunities for individuals to pursue their passions? Maybe, but for sure, one’s gender should not dictate their career path regardless of whether it is traditionally associated with their gender or not.
But competencies and professional skills stand above gender. When given a choice, research participants highlighted that professional skills matter more than gender-based characteristics for most jobs. But they didn’t entirely escape gender privilege. Gender was a decisive factor in the case of two careers, babysitter and truck driver.
At the same time, we must admit that due to specific characteristics, e.g., physical strength in the case of men or empathy in the case of women, gender-based traits can help or hinder development in a particular profession. But it is important not to rely solely on these gender-based characteristics when assessing an individual’s suitability for a job. Gender should not be the sole determinant of someone’s ability to perform a particular role, as it ignores the unique strengths and qualities that each individual brings to the table.
Gender stereotypes and jobs: Breaking the barriers
Breaking down gender barriers in the workplace means not only promoting equal pay but also encouraging diversity in traditionally men- and women-dominated industries. This is extremely important, especially given the following survey data.
Almost 8 in 10 people (78%) believe it’s okay for a man to work in a woman-dominated job and for a woman to pursue a man-dominated career.
Additionally, according to 43% of research participants, society has a positive view of women who work in professions traditionally dominated by men. The exact number of people, 43%, rate it neutrally. Men in women-dominated jobs can count on a similar perception, as 44% positively view men employed in jobs traditionally dominated by women, and 42% see it neutrally.
There’s nothing wrong with men working in what are typically professions held by women and the other way around. And those who think otherwise are in the minority.
60% say men and women will never succeed in some gender-dominated jobs.
This belief perpetuates the notion that certain professions are inherently gender-specific, and only those who fit a particular mold will be successful. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
But the good news is that the gender imbalance has the potential to change, with 76% of people being optimistic about that.
Considering the past five years, respondents already see changes. One-third of respondents report that, in their opinion, there are more men in traditionally women’s jobs and more women in men’s positions.
Still, there is a long way to go.
Gender stereotyping and societal expectations significantly impact our career choices, making many individuals feel limited in their options. Despite efforts to promote gender diversity in the workplace, some industries are governed by their laws. That’s why 70% find it difficult to enter gender-dominated careers.
As a result, it’s harder for women (according to 71%) but also for a man (70%) to enter jobs dominated by women.
But barriers are there to be broken as 81% of women would be willing to work in a woman-dominated industry, while 79% of men would be willing to work in one in which there are predominantly women.
But it may not be an easy challenge as they may have to fight the lack of respect or prestige, social stigma, coworkers’ jokes, or even lack of development opportunities and pay rise.
Still, through promoting equal chances, we can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment that values diversity and empowers individuals to pursue their desired career paths regardless of gender.
About today’s writer
Nina Pączka is a career advisor and job search expert at MyPerfectResume. Before becoming a career advisor, she worked as a public relations specialist. Now, Nina’s mission is to support job seekers on their path to finding a perfect job. Her insights have been published by Forbes, Fast Company, AZ Big Media, and many other outlets.
The findings above are an overview of research findings provided by MyPerfectResume. Please note that When Women Inspire recognizes there are more genders than only women and men. When Women Inspire also knows gender and sex are not synonyms.