Narrowing The Gender Gap – Women In The 21st Century Workforce

There’s an old story that goes like this: A boy and his father are in a car crash. The father dies at the scene, but the son is rushed to the emergency room with a head injury. The surgeon hurries in, looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on this patient. He’s my son.” How is that possible? The answer is that the surgeon is the boy’s mother. The story is designed to reveal the perceptions that many people have about gender in the workplace.

Getting Beyond the Stereotypes

It’s true that in the past, most lawyers, doctors and construction workers were men, and most nurses, teachers and secretaries were women. There were many reasons that men and women tended to choose certain career paths, but many barriers were eliminated for women in the 1970’s and 80’s. Just look around today. You can’t assume that the person showing up to unclog your toilet will be a man or that the person cleaning your teeth at the dentist’s office will be a woman. Both men and women are using their talents in jobs that traditionally were held by members of the opposite sex.

Despite an overall improvement in society’s perceptions of gender roles on the job, there are still problems. In general, women are compensated with about 25 percent less in pay than men, earning around 75 to 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. However, there are ways that a woman can beat this statistic and even out-earn the men.

Choosing Your Career

Women can capitalize on being in a male-dominated field. Warren Farrell, an author and oft-cited gender expert, claims that women can make more money than men in certain jobs. When it’s time to decide what job you want, here are some to consider.

  • Doctor/Surgeon: Many female patients prefer having a female doctor. Children may also express a preference for women when they have to see a doctor or surgeon, bringing more clients into your practice.
  • Auto Technician/Mechanic: You could build an impressive clientele of women who worry about the auto shop guys ripping them off. They may like having a woman fix their car.
  • Dentist: You can generate business based on the same trust factor and preferences that drive women to a female doctor.
  • Engineer/Scientist: Many big firms have goals for improving racial and gender diversity within their corporation. They might be especially eager to attract qualified women for positions traditionally held by men. You’ll have your pick of positions and may have the upper hand in salary negotiations.
  • Lawyer. Women are perceived as being good listeners and excellent communicators. Both are very important skills for attorneys.

Make it Happen!

The power to narrow the gender gap is yours. The possibilities are endless for today’s woman who wants a new career, and as you research what career paths are available for women here in the 21st century, expand your search to areas you had not previously considered. It might just pay off big in the future.

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