Why Are Females Overlooked in the Male Career Sphere?

As Women’s History Month comes to an end, Charis Gambon takes a closer look at male-dominated careers and the troubling statistics of women in these professions. Sparkling with optimism, Charis explores how this situation is gradually improving and what we can do to help it further.

Charis Gambon is a BA History Graduate from Nottingham Trent University, and will be studying her MA in History of Warfare in September at University of Birmingham. She is very passionate about social justice especially issues surrounding women’s rights, education and disabilities.  Charis believes that nothing should stop you from achieving your dreams in your life especially things that you have no ability to control. 

Every woman alive will at some point have been told ‘you can’t do that because you’re a woman’. Why do people think it is appropriate to ask that question or make that statement? Your gender does not define how good you would be at that specific task or career. Take that job, go on that course, do that activity you enjoy! You do you! Females standing up for themselves and saying ‘no, actually I want to do that career or course’ is fundamental in changing societal views around the female gender. If we want the world to change, we have to change it ourselves, nobody will change it for us.

I myself have been subject to some of these stereotypical views in my lifetime. I have a place to study MA History of Warfare at the University of Birmingham and there is a very high likelihood that I will be the only female to take that specific course that year. It would be lying to say that I am not terrified by the prospect of that, however, it is the course I want to pursue so I am not letting anything stand in my way. As I have previously stated, if you want gender stereotypical views to no longer be a part of society, you have to stand up for what you believe in. I stood up for what I believe in by signing up for my master’s course.

I am not going to promise that it will be an easy task to change the views of a whole gender in society. It will most definitely be a hard task, but all the best things are hard. Nothing worthwhile is every easy, if it terrifies you then it is the right thing to do. Challenging yourself and others is what drives people.

An example of a career that is heavily male-dominated and perceived by society as very ‘manly’ is the profession of lorry driving. ‘Around 2,200 of the 315,000 registered truck drivers in the UK are female, but the FTA says in response to the survey results that the latest statistics show that the gender balance, and the number of younger women wanting to enter the profession, is improving, with 15 per cent aged between 21 and 25.’ This statistic would suggest to me that younger women are beginning to take chances that women previously haven’t taken. Whilst the number of female truck drivers is still relatively small, it is growing, and everything has to start somewhere. Young females are taking chances in the driving industry and going for what they believe in and are not letting others stand in their way. Over time this number will continue to grow as more women take the leap to enter the male-dominated world of truck driving.

Additionally, in 2020 Careersmart found that only 1,633 (0.81%) of the workforce in the careers of vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians were female, compared to 199,877 (99.19%) of the male workforce. Females are often discouraged from careers where the aim is use of hands to fix things, as it is viewed as the male sex’s role in society to fix things that are physically broken. Furthermore, girls are discouraged due to the industry being heavily dominated by males as they are afraid to be the only female or believe that the industry is off limits for them. Delving more into the specifics of why young females do not pursue a career in the industry we find that ‘50% feel that the stereotype of a mechanic will put young girls off, whilst 40% believe that the lack of role models has a significant influence.’

Females feel that they do not have any role models to look up to and aspire to become like, due to the lack of representation in careers that are viewed as ‘male-dominated’. Without these role models, young women simply just don’t take roles within those careers as they don’t know what to expect or that the careers are an option they can explore. People always aspire to be similar to someone they look up to and that is often a considerable driving force in considering a career path.

Following up on the idea that trade-based careers are dominated heavily by men, in skilled trade’s occupations, the gender pay gap is 22.4%. The idea that women are paid less than men in skilled trades is another factor that dissuades women from perusing a career in the skilled trades such as building, plumbing, or electrics. The idea that women are paid less than males for the same role is frankly barbaric. Males and females should be paid the same for the same level and amount of work. Gender does not and should not factor into how good at their job someone is.

Women on a whole are also less likely to be admitted to positions of leadership and power within an organisation. ‘Among functional roles, women are the majority among Human Resources directors (63.3%) but a small proportion of finance directors (15.6%) and chief information officers (11.7%).’ Women are often pigeonholed into positions of leadership that require talking and emotions to be used such as human resources where the job is to look after the wellbeing of others in the company. Rather than something particular and intellectual such as finance or information leadership positions. This is due to misconceptions and stereotypes of the male and female gender. There is an understanding that females are emotional and possess the capability to be kind, caring and to want to help others, whereas men are unemotional, intelligent, and capable of running financial and business matters. This frankly outdated view damages female chances at business and finance roles within management and leadership.

Overall, I would suggest that the main reason that females are overlooked in male-dominated careers is because of outdated societal views that favour the patriarchy. If we would like to change these views, then women must challenge them and go for whatever it is they desire out of life even if it does fall into the male-dominated sphere. Changing views from within is hugely important to breaking down stereotypical views. Women are just as capable as males at every job, people should be hired based on their background and merits not because of their gender. However, whilst female participation in changing this backwards view is hugely important, male assistance is still needed as females cannot change the world alone. Male assistance is especially needed, as they are most often the people with the hiring power, and persuading them to change their views would help the breakdown of sexist stereotypes massively.

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