Do you need a carpenter, a plumber or a TV repair mechanic for your home? Pick up the yellow pages and call one in. The chances are 99 out of 100 that you will expect a man walking in through the door and not without reason too. Officially, even in the current occupations in the U.S. Department of Labour’s list, these trades are put as non-traditional jobs for women. It means that women constitute less than 25% of the people in these trades.
Why are certain jobs considered non-traditional for women when there is a general outcry around the world today on equal job opportunities? This form of segregation has been in place for a long long time. Then why is it necessary to change the system now and remove the status quo and why it is that more and more women are veering around to non traditional jobs?
- Disparity in earnings – This is because of the conventional segregation of jobs for men and women. For example, male commercial plasterers will be considered to be perfect for such jobs whereas women will be taken to be misfits. It is regardless of the fact that they might have completed trade courses with men and have been trained through internships. This perceived notion of society is what keeps wages down for women when they try and venture out into jobs labelled traditional for men, hence the shift to other non-traditional avenues.
- Availability of short technical courses – If a woman wants to opt for non-traditional jobs, the availability of short term courses is a distinct advantage. This is especially true for technical jobs where a woman can pick up the basics quickly though short training programmes. These jobs offer good career advancement opportunities too. Most training programmes have duration of less than 2 years and hence a woman can easily sharpen her skill sets within a very short period of time. Apart from pre-job training, most non-traditional jobs have in-house training courses. This on-the-job facility allows workers to learn while they earn.
- Increased job satisfaction – Women get more job satisfaction in non-traditional environments than the other way around. This is primarily because these jobs are challenging and interesting as they fall outside the ambit of routine and often boring jobs. Hence non traditional jobs give women an opportunity to exercise their expertise and sharp skill sets, a scenario that was not available to them in their previous usual types of work.
- Supporting the family – Most women are playing an increasing role in the family’s financial security. Couples are depending on double incomes to lead a comfortable life and maintain a good standard of living. In traditional jobs the pay will be lower than that of non traditional jobs and hence women find it inadequate to meet their financial goals.
- Flexibility – Women often have to walk a tight rope to balance work and family life, especially those with growing children to look after. A non traditional job offers more flexible work times and working hours and therefore women can maintain a healthy work life balance. This is very important for nuclear families where parental support is not there.
However, while there are a few advantages in women seeking non traditional jobs there are problems to overcome too. Employers generally do not want to hire women against vacancies considered normal for men but non traditional for women due to misconceptions about performance of women in those roles. Secondly, women have often faced discrimination by co-workers who find it difficult to accept women in jobs that they think is their sole domain.