These days, gender norms have been challenged. It’s no longer uncommon to see a man as a secretary or a woman in the STEM field. Take for example, 2016’s release of the classic “Ghostbusters” film. All roles from the original film have been gender swapped — the scientists in the film were all women and the secretary was portrayed by a man. As for other gender roles in the entertainment world, the latest installment of Star Wars did not continue the story of Luke Skywalker, but instead took fans on a new journey about Rey, the female heroine of the new trilogy.
With pop culture and societal movements like “breaking the glass ceiling” imaging and urging society to break away from tradition, we are starting to see men and women take on non-traditional roles in real life. The first changes were seen in white-collar jobs, such as more men in the educational field and more women in the STEM field. Now we’re starting to see these changes trickle down to blue-collar jobs as well.
When we think about blue-collar jobs, we often immediately think about men as plumbers, mechanics, garbage collectors and truck drivers. Why? It’s because these jobs often need workers who are willing to get down and dirty, a trait more commonly found in men rather than women, and the overall stigma that blue-collar jobs are most often reserved for men. Vice versa, when we think about the lesser-known blue-collar jobs such as dental hygienists, caregivers, hair stylists and secretaries, our thoughts immediately picture a women in these roles. Why? These roles often require workers to be friendly and welcoming, a trait more commonly found in women than men.
No matter if it’s a Hollywood role or a blue-collar job, gender norms in today’s society are being challenged. They are opening doors to cultural acceptance, new innovations, and benchmarks in how the blue-collar industry operates. Below are five blue-collar roles that feature their non-traditional gender, and how they are succeeding.
Female Construction Workers
According to the National Women’s Law Center, only 2.6 percent of construction workers are women, and that statistic hasn’t changed in the past three decades. However, universities and trade schools are starting to change that by offering more coursework options in construction administration, engineering and management — opening doors for women who want to get exposed to the field.
Male Flight Attendants
Although flight attendants are more often female, male flight attendants are breaking their way into the industry. Between 1980 and 2007, the percentage of males per 100 females increased from 19.3 to 26.4 males. It’s no wonder that with millennials’ increased desire to travel the world, more males are signing up for the journey.
Female Truck Drivers
As I started in a previous article, the American Transportation Research Institute estimates there are more than 30,000 trucker job openings that could be filled immediately — if workers were willing to apply. Combined with a turnover rate of 90 percent, job openings for this occupation could skyrocket to 240,000 by 2022. This urgent need for truck drivers has prompted some companies tap into a different labor pool — women.
This is a great opportunity for women to earn a living without the stigmatism of the glass ceiling, “As a truck driver, you make the same amount of money as your male peers, because you either get paid by the mile or the load of the percentage,” said Ellen Voie, chief executive of Women in Trucking Association in an interview with CNBC. “Gender is not an issue in pay in the truck industry for drivers.”
According to the AARP, these days a surprising 40 percent of caregivers are men. This traditionally female role has risen significantly due to the fact of a shift in demographics. Among people over 65, Alzheimer’s and dementia are more prevalent among women, meaning husbands are more often caring for their wives.
Female Taxi Drivers
As a woman, it can be daunting to take a job as a taxi driver, especially since safety is a top concern. However, innovations in technology have given women the empowerment they need to feel comfortable chauffeuring strangers around. Called SheTaxi — SheRides, this women-only taxi service provides both women behind the wheel and in the backseat the safety and security they need to make a living and get where they’re going.
Men and women are both making strides into non-traditional roles. Construction workers, flight attendants, truck drivers, caregivers and taxi drivers are just a small example of blue-collar jobs that feature workers in non-traditional roles. However, there’s still the issue of women getting paid less than men in nearly all fields of practice, even in the skilled trades. This will be an issue to explore in another blog. Stay tuned.