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Men Don’t Want to Do ‘Women’s Work’

Topics: Data & Research
Image Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr

Male-dominated occupations are on the decline, while female-dominated occupations are on the rise — but that doesn’t mean men are racing to fill these “pink-collar” positions. Despite having higher job security and wage growth, “women’s work” doesn’t seem to appeal to men. This is because, as The New York Times reports, men are “paid less and feel stigmatized” working in female-dominant fields.

Women’s Work Pays Less

Men aren’t just bowing to social pressure when they avoid fast-growing jobs that are more commonly done by women. Many of these growing pink-collar jobs reside in the healthcare industry, e.g. home health aide. For the most part, they tend to pay less than those dominated by men.

It’s not about women choosing the wrong fields, either. According to studies, when an occupation becomes dominated by females, pay declines. What’s more, a study conducted by researchers from NYU, Penn, and the University of Haifa in Israel concluded that “occupations with more women pay less because they’re female-dominated.” In other words, a woman’s work is valued less than that of a man.

The Gender Pay Gap Persists

No matter how you slice it, women earn less than men. Period. Women make roughly 76 cents for every dollar a man makes — that’s the “raw” or uncontrolled figure that doesn’t account for factors like education, experience, industry, job title, etc. When said factors are considered in the calculations, the scale still tips to favor men.

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PayScale’s latest gender pay gap data found that, apples to apples, “the median salary for men is still 24 percent higher than the media salary for women,” which is partly due to women getting paid lower salaries than men for the same work, coupled with the fact that women (more so than men) take on lower-paying jobs.

Social Factors

Why are men so reluctant to take on jobs in fields that are dominated by women? According to Andrew Cherlin, sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins, “Traditional masculinity is standing in the way of working-class men’s employment.” U.C. Hastings law professor Joan William suggests that if a man works in a feminine job, then he may fear that he won’t be seen as a “real man” in society’s eyes.

“It’s not a skill mismatch,” says Harvard economist Lawrence Katz, “but an identity mismatch.” He goes on to say, “It’s not that they couldn’t become a health worker, it’s that people have backward views of what their identity is.”

Tell Us What You Think

Are you a man working in a female-dominant industry or job? If so, share your experience and let us know your thoughts on this stigma. Join the conversation happening on Twitter, or leave your comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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