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Why do men in female-dominated jobs (nursing, primary teaching, social work) get into management quicker than women?

(84 Posts)
margerykemp Sat 24-Sep-11 11:48:52

Surely there should be less of a glass ceiling in these jobs where 90+% of workers are female?

This seems to happen even early on in the career path so I dont think it can just be put down to 'choices' over eg childbearing.

Nursie999 Sat 24-Sep-11 12:16:25

Maybe they don't like having female bosses?
I have only met a few really caring male nurses, who actually liked the nursing bit and they were either Paeds nurses Mental health nurses or gay. (that is my own experience, couldn't comment on others)
The other male nurses I knew (general nurses) were a bit slapdash with care (I thought) but never stayed around long and got promoted out very quickly.

mercibucket Sat 24-Sep-11 12:20:33

personally think it is down to higher ambition amongst the men who choose it as a career vs the women who choose it as a career (not saying all men more ambitious than all women, career specific) so when men go into teaching they very often have their eye on the top job already
interesting to speculate about why that is - confidence issues, expectations, importance of status

AlysWorld Sat 24-Sep-11 14:15:42

I have heard is is due to men being seen as headteachers from the off and therefore they get fast tracked through. I'm not talking officially, I'm talking all the cultural cues about what a headteacher does and doesn't look like and therefore people acting differently. I know from men that do teach, and love teaching so don't want to be a head, that they have to try and side step it.

TrillianAstra Sat 24-Sep-11 14:17:37

Because the people in charge have been culturally conditioned to not like to see men doing "women's jobs" so they unconsciously encourage/help them to move up to management where they should be.

Trippler Sat 24-Sep-11 14:18:45

I imagine it is down to good, old-fashioned sexism.

TheCrackFox Sat 24-Sep-11 14:32:54

Teaching seems to be the worst for it. All those female teachers and the one, lonely, male headteacher. Very weird and, actually, not a great example for the pupils.

yup, good old fashioned sexism would be the answer.

AuntieMonica Sat 24-Sep-11 14:36:27

because men are good at being in charge and women are over-looked for promotion in case they don't take the job seriously enough and run off and have babies

angry

*disclaimer, i don't believe this myself btw

TotallyUnheardOf Sat 24-Sep-11 14:43:52

I think I agree with Trillian and Alys.

And it's also because it's often men who are already in those roles, and they tend to promote people like themselves. Anecdotally, my dh considered for a while becoming a primary teacher. He did lots of supply teaching (before deciding that it wasn't for him) and almost every school he went to really pushed him to train (he was also very good, so that bit wasn't necessarily just to do with him being male) and said explicitly that he'd be a head teacher within a few years... I am willing to bet that if it'd been me doing the supply teaching they might have encouraged me to train as a teacher but I wouldn't have got the rhetoric about becoming a head.

I am an academic in an Arts subject. Our staff overall is roughly 50% female, but only about 15% of our professors are female. In this case, I think that men are much better at finding ways to do only the kind of work that will be rewarded with promotion. Women are, generally, better colleagues because they are more prepared to take all aspects of their role seriously... but this is then not rewarded by 'the system'. Finding ways to challenge the system is the thing... not easy, but I think it has to be done (over and over, probably) in the hope of making progress.

BlowHole Sat 24-Sep-11 14:46:19

Because all the women are too busy bitching about each other to be ambitious.

Not really, it's because the world is run by and for men.

RitaMorgan Sat 24-Sep-11 14:56:15

I think a good deal of it is that men tend to have fewer responsibilities at home. A male primary school teacher is likely to have a female partner who does the bulk of the child/house work so can devote extra hours to his career. A female primary school teacher is more likely to be rushing home to children, taking days off when they are sick and generally supporting her male partner's career.

TotallyUnheardOf Sat 24-Sep-11 15:07:37

It's not necessarily that that's actually the case, RitaM, but that people (including the people in positions of power in these organisations) assume that it'll be the case.

In my family, it's more likely to be the other way around (I earn more than dh, have a job where I'm likely to work long hours, blah blah, and dh supports me in that by being available to pick the kids up, cooking for all of us, etc etc.), BUT I am still seen at work as a 'working mother' in a way that my male colleagues are not. So if I'm at work at 7.00 p.m., I'll get comments about how my kids must've forgotten what I look like, whereas my male peers, even if they have kids of a similar age, do not get these comments. It's therefore assumed that men will be more 'available' to take these more senior posts on than women - often without asking the women in question.

Linked to this is the 'I dont' know how she does it' type comment, whereby women (especially mothers) who are ambitious and successful are seen as somehow exceptional (often also by other women). This means that more junior women coming in are not encouraged to pursue such ambitions, because they are not seen as being realisable by 'a normal [female] person'.

I am now resolved to challenge these assumptions whenever the opportunity arises, but - as I said before - it'll take a lot of women doing this before the system changes.

coccyx Sat 24-Sep-11 15:12:09

when I was a student nurse 20 odd years ago, we had 2 male students in our group. On the wards they were always pandered over and mothered! Easier to remember them amongst a group of female dominated students.
Think it is down to sexism a lot of the time

edd1337 Sat 24-Sep-11 15:37:55

I am an academic in an Arts subject. Our staff overall is roughly 50% female, but only about 15% of our professors are female. In this case, I think that men are much better at finding ways to do only the kind of work that will be rewarded with promotion. Women are, generally, better colleagues because they are more prepared to take all aspects of their role seriously... but this is then not rewarded by 'the system'. Finding ways to challenge the system is the thing... not easy, but I think it has to be done (over and over, probably) in the hope of making progress.

You raise a good point there. I've seen it happen in many a workplace. Like men are more likely to "kiss ass" to get a reward and are quick to learn the managerial paperwork jobs while women tend to be more versatile in their role/role of others

Bonsoir Sat 24-Sep-11 15:48:44

"Finding ways to challenge the system is the thing... not easy, but I think it has to be done (over and over, probably) in the hope of making progress."

It's usually more rewarding to find out how the system works and then to do what the system rewards than to try to change the system.

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 15:56:11

My DD has just started primary school, and we have been supplied with a staff list.

The head teacher, deputy head and caretaker are men.
Everyone else is female.

While I am pleased that there are some men in the school (as I was pleased that there was a male member of staff at her preschool) I must admit I did look at the list and sigh a bit.

Birdsgottafly Sat 24-Sep-11 16:36:45

The occupations that myself and other family members are in, cannot be done from a management position, if you want child friendly hours, which more women want, rather than men.

The managers that are women don't have children.

It is starting to change.

Sexism obviously plays a part in that, as it is often taken for granted that the mother will be the primary carer.

The management job is a different role in social care, so i do think that alot of the staff working in social care, don't want a mangers job.

TotallyUnheardOf Sat 24-Sep-11 17:18:41

"It's usually more rewarding to find out how the system works and then to do what the system rewards than to try to change the system."

But what if the system is just plain wrong?

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 19:31:58

Even better, find out how the system works and then to do what the system rewards, and try to change the system.

People who know how it works and have power and influence within it have more chance of changing it than those who don't.

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 19:32:26

And of course reward is always nice grin

KRITIQ Sat 24-Sep-11 19:47:13

Twenty years ago, I was in training to be a registered nurse in London. In my set (class) there were 29 women and 1 man. He was a nice enough chap, but he got away with murder - turning up late for work, not following the uniform policy, sneaking off for coffee, etc. But despite that, the sun shone out his arse. We qualified at a time when there were basically no jobs to be had so we either tried our luck with agencies or the nursing bank, but guess who was first to get an actually permanent job? You guessed it! He was promoted to Senior Staff nurse about 18 months later, while the rest of us were still jobbing on the bank or (in my case) had given up and left nursing altogether.

I sense that men on traditional female roles, particularly those involving care for other people, are heaped with praise for doing something beneath them. It's assumed they have sacrificed a more prestigious, lucrative career so must be doing the job because they are passionate about it in an almost saintly way. If they are mediocre, they are regarded as excellent. If they are genuinely very good, they're on the fast track to the top.

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 20:15:47

I also think (and this is just a thought from my brain, not something I've seen anywhere else), that many people simply subconsciously think men are better at stuff. At everything. Which is why it happens.

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 20:16:47

So if a man deigns to do "women's work", naturally he will be better at it than the women. He will bring to it the certain "je ne sais quas" that an analytical male brain brings. So he should be the one in charge.

Pah.

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 20:17:38

BTW french is not my strong point so that is probably spelt wrong grin

SardineQueen Sat 24-Sep-11 20:18:24

Also why they get paid more than women for the same work. they will be doing it better. Natch.

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