The gender divide is an ever-present issue in the global workforce, from the wage gap to occupational stereotyping. It’s time to end it once and for all.
If men are from Mars and women from Venus, does that mean that mechanics should all be blokes and that their sisters should all be secretaries? In the world of work, gender stereotypes are still very much alive and kicking. Picture a judge and a joiner: do you automatically think of two women?
Gender equality is one of those ideas that fit into the same category as the one described by India’s Mahatma Ghandi when he was asked what he thought of western civilization: “I think it would be a very good idea.” Nicely put.
More Than a Glass Ceiling
The good news is that more and more women are taking up traditional male roles and that, by doing so, they are making it progressively easier for other women to follow in their footsteps. And this is not just a case of the corporate glass ceiling being raised to allow more women to rise to more senior positions – as welcome as that may be. Today, 17 per cent of CEOs in Australia are women, and the figure is rising all the time.
But as data published on hipages shows, the number of women stepping into the sort of blue collar manual jobs which are the epitome of that masculine working stereotype are also on the increase. The “Rise of the Female Tradies” is a real and growing trend in Australia.
hipages – a site which lets Australians hire local tradespeople – reports a near five-fold increase in the number of women signing up to its roster in 2015, with a similar degree of increase forecast for 2016. Historically, women may have only constituted a tiny 2 per cent of Aussie tradies but that proportion is on the rise and they account for 20 per cent of hipages listings.
Common Sense Opportunities
Aside from the fact that there is no gender bar on being interested in solving practical problems, there are good reasons for any woman with a yearning for independence to take up a trade. Being your own boss brings flexibility as well as opportunity. It means working on your own terms and being able to work only with people you feel comfortable with. Who wouldn’t want some of that?
The Myth about Martians
There are countless studies that will confirm the supposed distinctions between the sexes – that men are more impulsive, that women are more caring, more communicative, or better at multitasking – but there are good reasons to take such findings with a large pinch of salt. After all, large-scale studies are no indication of any individual’s innate, wholly personal qualities, irrespective of any other flaws in those surveys. Instead, what they tend to do is reinforce the sort of stereotypes that force women into the (stereo)typing pool and their male counterparts into the workshop.
Making it Happen
For anyone contemplating what they really want to do for a living, the reality is that glass ceilings and gender divides are no more than empty metaphors. Those well-worn expressions may take on a semblance of substance if we allow them to, but in the real world of 2016, there is no reason to believe that their gender should be any sort of a break on anyone’s ambition. If following your dreams means working with your hands, there is every reason to tell yourself that ending the gender divide would be a very good idea, no matter where you come from.
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