It doesn’t seem that long ago that women were encouraged to pursue a limited range of careers. However, the days of little girls being pointed towards teacher, nurse or secretary rather than researcher, doctor or business leader are now in the past. Women have begun to dominate some fields that were once considered exclusively male domains, especially in the medical and business fields. In certain cases, we haven’t yet seen the full extent of the shift. For example, there are currently more female law students than male law students but until they are out working in the field, the change won’t be fully visible. Some of the jobs that women now dominate might surprise you.
A lot of this change has to do with representation. When girls and young women are able to see examples of women in these positions, it becomes a lot more realistic of a dream to pursue. While over 120 women have raced for NASCAR since 1949, it was Danica Patrick’s rise and popularity that brought awareness to the possibilities open to female drivers. Similarly, the growing number of professional female poker players, such as Victoria Coren-Mitchell, Kristen Bicknell and Xuan Liu, has made professional card playing seem a lot less like an unwelcoming all-boys club. This has in turn contributed to the popularity of fast payout casinos with both men and women, a change that has benefited the economy as casino revenue grows.
It’s safe to say that most little girls go through a phase of wanting to be a veterinarian when they grow up but until recently it remained a male-dominated field. The growth in the number of female veterinarians is staggering – between 2000 and 2016, the number of women veterinarians rose by 25%. While many of what are known as the ‘caring professions’ already had a high number of female workers, this change shows that women are no longer content to be relegated to the lower-level positions in these fields.
A similar, though slightly less dramatic, rise has been seen in the number of women pursuing careers as pharmacists. Working in a pharmacy can also be considered one of the caring professions, though it is more removed from direct patient care. One of the most positive factors about this industry is that it has one of the smallest wage gaps. While female pharmacists still earn less than their male counterparts, there has been consistent progress towards closing this gap since the early 2000s.
Another one of the caring professions that is on the list of fields now dominated by women is psychology. While many of the caring profession jobs are very poorly paid – like home healthcare workers and medical assistants – psychologists are well paid for the work that they do. The rise in the number of female psychologists could have a profound effect on society, as they are hopefully more likely to recognize the issues that women face and take them seriously.
According to recent data, women now make up more than half of the professional bakers in the United States. Baking has always been seen as a feminine hobby, but as a male profession. It’s similar to cooking, where women are expected to cook for their families but most chefs are men. Just like the dough they work with, though, women are rising in the baking world. This change highlights how entrepreneurship is growing among women, as skills previously saved for the home are now shared with the wider world.
As economics professor Anne York posits, the ideal workforce balance is one where all jobs have an even ratio of male to female workers. This keeps professions from being seen as gendered and makes it more comfortable for anyone interested to pursue the work they love. As women start dominating certain fields that they have previously been excluded from, it will be exciting to see what sort of positive changes this will have on society.