General Public Shocked by Men in ‘Pink-Collar’ Jobs

Libby Kane

This week, you might have heard that men are turning into women.

OK, well, technically it’s that more men are pursuing careers traditionally dominated by women, but from the fuss this news has caused, one might think it’s something more dramatic.

The New York Times reports that professions such as nursing and teaching have seen an influx of men into those fields in the last decade.

They’re seeking stable jobs as bank tellers and receptionists that might not finance a McMansion, but can pay the rent, as well as cause less stress and provide more family time.

In fact, census data shows that jobs whose ranks are made up of 70% or more women accounted for a third of job growth for men between 2000 and 2010, which is twice the amount of the previous decade.

As you can see, the shift has been happening for a while. Despite men losing a disproportionate number of jobs during the recession (remember “mancession?”), for many men, entering predominantly female fields isn’t a reactionary step.

Speaking of made up words, the fields in question are being called “pink collar,” and while before 1990 these men in pink tended to be foreign-born non-English speakers with limited career options, they now represent all races and ages, and a third of them have college degrees.

It stands to reason that men entering predominantly female fields will face similar challenges as women entering predominantly male fields, right? Wrong.

“Men earn more than women even in female-dominated jobs. And white men in particular who enter those fields easily move up to supervisory positions, a phenomenon known as the glass escalator—as opposed to the glass ceiling that women encounter in male-dominated professions,” says the Times.

Sigh. Despite the glass escalators and glass ceiling (fragile structure, no?) and the mancession and the pink collars, we would do well to remember that things are, in fact, changing. Part of the reason men are seeking out new careers is to be more involved with their families. When some parents divorce, it’s women who pay alimony. Work stress weighs on people of both sexes.

We can only hope that in the future, we won’t have jobs differentiated by sex or by collar. We’ll just have jobs.

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  • terrilynnmerritts

    What’s so shocking? I had male teachers back in the 1960′s/1970′s (including elementary school) and I know a lot of men teachers and always have. I have had male nurses in hospitals for many years. I think it is great for men to choose whatever career interests them. 

  • Rockstar_chick87

    I think men are trending to become more effeminate. Men in this generation have less reason to be the “masculine” type we knew back in the day. For one, men these days are having their own families later in life, and many still live with their parents until they’re 25 or older, and there is no push for responsibility. And two, more children these days are growing up without fathers, so how in the world can they know HOW to be masculine without a masculine influence. But on the pink-collar job thing, America as a whole is becoming a more service oriented industry, and less of a manufacturing/contruction type, so many men are having to do what used to be female oriented jobs because that’s all there is these days.

  • maesaysdoit

    I don’t understand why in 2012 this country still wants to say that, “white men easily move up to supervisory positions”. In this day and age we can be assured that if there was a woman or a minority that qualified, they would be chosen. So maybe, “white men” qualify because they qualify for the positions they are being placed in. There are way to many incentives for any company or organization to not put a female or a minority into any position. And if you are female and a minority they have an even greater chance, if they qualify. 

    • Guest

      “In this day and age we can be assured that if there was a woman or a minority that qualified, they would be chosen.” << You're clearly not a minority & a very misinformed/unrealistic woman.

  • Wholefoods 4 Life

    It just boils my blood when I hear someone say that sexism is long gone! People need to get use to men in traditional “women” jobs/roles! Great article!