Understanding what men experience in female dominated occupations is significant based on the same reasons why the experience of women in male dominant fields is and has continued to be important(Cross&Bagilhole, 2000).
Understanding what men experience in female dominated occupations is significant based on the same reasons why the experience of women in male dominant fields is and has continued to be important(Cross&Bagilhole, 2000).In the United States, men acquire less than half of undergraduate and graduate degree compared to women. This gap has continued to increase(Jacobs, 1993).Besides, economic recession has led to the loss of traditional male dominated jobs. Equality between men and women is prevailing. Men have increased in female dominated occupations. They are becoming nurses, teachers and social workers e.tc. Forexample; statistics show that between 2000- 2010, the number of male nurses doubled. Currently, there are more than 10% of men in the nursing profession(Jacobs, 1993). Is this due to anincrease in the pursuit of gender equality? This phenomenon may be caused by erosion of stereotypes in female dominated jobs. Women are also entering into men dominated jobs.There much interest in the research about some men (majority does not) who enter into female dominated occupations. Research by Williams (2013) provides a better understanding of men’s experience in female-concentrated occupations. There is no much research on why men enter into female occupations. Few studies have explored the experiences of men in female-dominated occupations. This paper discusses the experiences of men in female dominated occupations. This is based on topic such as how men overcome challenges in such fields and experiences with the ‘glass escalator’ or the ‘glass ceiling.’The discussion is based on Williams (2013), ‘the glass escalator’ and Simpsons (2014), ‘masculinity at work.’The paper also focuses on studies from other researchers.
The Glass Escalator
Women who work in men- dominated jobs encounter what Williams(2013) calls a ‘glass ceiling.’ This glass ceiling prevents them from ascending to top jobs in the organization or company. Top jobs are reserved for men as they are believed to have leadership capabilities compared to women, though this is not true. However, one may think that since women do not lead in men-dominated jobs, it is vice versa for men who work in female dominated jobs. However, this is not so, Simpson introduced the term ‘glass escalator’ which enabled men to lead even in female-dominated professions such as elementary/primary teaching, nursing, social work and librarianship. However, this term may not be applicable to the 21st century’ inequality in the workplace.
The ‘glass escalator’ is about the ‘hidden advantages’ that men enjoy in female-dominated professions(Williams 2013). However, the workplace has changed over the last two decades and this has also changed the understanding of gender inequality in the workplace. Many sociologists argue that women are disadvantaged in the workplace because of what is referred to as the ‘token status.’ Very few women occupy top positions and the few who manage to ascend the ladder experience marginalization in terms of boundary heightening, increased visibilityand role encapsulation. They are thus excluded from top responsibilities and positions of power. Previously, gender discrimination was not the reason why women were excluded from leadership positions, but because of numerical rarity. Tokenism received critique from men working in female dominated professions. Also, numerical rarity does not have negative effects on such men. The reason why men still lead in female dominated professions is because of their masculinity. Their masculinity qualities are highly regarded more than the qualities associated with femininity/women. Token status enables men to benefit from professions such as social work, librarianship, nursing and teaching.
Focusing on men in female dominated jobs leads us to understanding the advantages men generally enjoy in the workplace regardless of their workplace. In order to address this, previous research argued on the deficiencies and barriers of women, leaving important questions like what advantages men receive and what makes them so great. In female dominated positions, men were regarded as more better and competent than their women counterparts. As a result, men were assigned higher administrative jobs and specialties with higher pay. Everyone in the workplace that is, coworkers, clients and supervisors understood this concept of masculinity privilege.This is what Simpson labels as the ‘glass escalator’ which is the opposite of the ‘glass ceiling’experienced by women in men-concentrated professions.
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