Women nowadays are beginning to shatter traditional ‘gender roles’ and break into occupational territories once dominated massively by their male counterparts, reinforced by a study from CareerBuilder. The results are a tad bit interesting, and here’s why.

Between 2009 and 2017, the study found that women are now filling nearly a quarter of new jobs in typically male dominated occupations; such as CEOs, lawyers, web developers, surgeons, chemists, etc. Moreover, the tightening conditions of the current labour market only serve to bring more women employment in male dominated sectors.

Female employment within sectors that are dominated by two thirds of men experienced the greatest growth; up to 5 percent, versus 3 percent for men. While in other sectors such as construction, transportation, mining and utilities, employment growth was up to at least 10 percent.

“In a tight labor market, firms give workers a chance they would not otherwise consider,”- Lawrence Katz, Harvard labor economist.

In short, while a tightening labour market may bring about a negative connotation, we should also consider the unseen opportunities that it brings about; namely the circumstance where organisations now have to look in places they’ve never thought to look in search for new blood and talent. But one thing to note is that this growth is not just limited to desk jobs within the office. Various industries around the world are experiencing this spike in female employment, especially when it comes to hands-on areas such as building sites and factory floors.

“While I’m usually the only woman on a construction site, I’ve noticed a lot more interest in the field from young women. And being female has also given me a leg up, because employers are excited to hire diverse, qualified people.”- Nolee Anderson, carpenter

And it’s women like her who are drawing more attention and bringing the spotlight towards the growth experienced by women in male dominated sectors. Big organisations such as workwear company Wolverine have capitalised on this development by sponsoring Anderson as an attempt to draw attention towards diversity of trade workers, in a time when they are hard to come by.


Source: The Current Population Survey of Households. Photo Via: The New York Times

However, despite this positive shift in terms of employment, it helps to be weary towards the fact that this phenomenon might be a symptom of low unemployment levels; a circumstance which forces organisations to break out of their comfort zone.

But the permanence of this is questionable at best, as this shift may be symptomatic of currently low unemployment levels rather than an enduring shift in societal norms. Drawing from recent history; In 2000, women’s share of male dominated jobs rose when unemployment dipped below 4 percent, but fell again as unemployment picked up.

Still, success for women workers remains to be seen, but the outlook is mostly positive, and only time will tell regarding the true extent of the growth of female employment within male employment sectors.

For more articles on empowerment, head over to FESO Asia.

Edwin Ang
Author: Edwin Ang


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