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Women being told to ‘volunteer’

15 replies

Brogues · 21/09/2020 20:13

I’ll add a caveat that I’ve put this in chat not AIBU because I wanted a bit of a discussion rather than a dressing down!

Not particularly ATAAT but I see women on here being told to ‘volunteer’ when they are bored/at a loose end/a myriad of other reasons. I’m not sure why it gets my back up but it seems like that’s all women are expected to do. It’s rarely suggested that a woman goes and finds a job or trains for a new career for example. I can’t help feeling that no one would ever suggest the same solution if man asked.

OP posts:
tectonicplates · 21/09/2020 20:20

See also: volunteering looks good on your CV, or can lead to a paid job. Not in my experience. I've done volunteer work and nobody was interested, nobody ever picked up on it at an interview or anything. It's just a way of blaming people for being unemployed.

saraclara · 21/09/2020 20:21

Men are often told to volunteer. But maybe at a different stage of life. Recently retired men often struggle more than women with a lack of routine, and as someone recently retired myself, I've seen LOADS of men (more than women?) being told to volunteer.

My local good neighbours scheme appears to have more men than women at the moment.

Kpo58 · 21/09/2020 20:31

They are probably told to volunteer as not everyone can afford to train for a new career or find a job that fits around pickups and dropoffs from school. Also it looks like they have done something for the CV rather than doing nothing all day at home (not that.many people literally do that).

WrongKindOfFace · 21/09/2020 20:31


See also: volunteering looks good on your CV, or can lead to a paid job. Not in my experience. I've done volunteer work and nobody was interested, nobody ever picked up on it at an interview or anything. It's just a way of blaming people for being unemployed.

If someone doesn’t have much/any work history, doesn’t have anyone to provide a reference, wants to gain some examples they can use in competency based interviews then it can be helpful.

I can see how if you already have a strong work history it might not be as much use, but it could stop a gap developing on your CV or give you experience in a new area if you’re looking to change jobs.
ICouldHaveCheckedFirst · 21/09/2020 20:35

My DD volunteered after graduating with a Masters and initially failing to find paid work. It did lead directly to paid work and that in turn led to a professional job in her field. So it can work.

But I can see your point.

Callybrid · 21/09/2020 20:38

Yes re getting a reference from volunteer work if you’ve been out of paid employment a long time.

I think it’s suggested more to women because women are more likely to have had a long stint out of work. I’ve suggested it myself because for me volunteering has been enjoyable and a good way to get back into doing something non-kids centred without having the restrictions of paid work.

Agree also that men might have it suggested more when older - my Dad’s volunteered for a couple of small things he’s really enjoyed. My mum hasn’t as she has more of a social circle and classes etc to keep her busy.

amicissimma · 21/09/2020 20:43

As a SAHM who built up an interesting and fulfilling life as a volunteer working closely with various people, I have discovered that if something happens that prevents you doing things in close proximity to other people, a pandemic perhaps, your whole life disappears overnight.

katy1213 · 21/09/2020 20:45

I've mostly seen it here when people are complaining they're lonely/no
friends/no interests/nothing to do - so it's more a suggestion to get out there and do something rather than career advice.

bookmum08 · 21/09/2020 20:50

I know lots of men who are volunteers.

HorsePellets · 21/09/2020 21:08

I agree with you.

And I frequently see it suggested for women in circumstances who struggle to find work because they need flexibility, yet volunteering often requires the same commitment and rigidity that paid employment requires due to the nature of the volunteering.

Purpledaisychain · 21/09/2020 21:09

Changing career isn't often as simple as just doing a new course. You often need volunteering alongside qualifications.

Some people at a loose end may know they want to change careers but they may not know what they want to do in terms of a new career. Volunteering can help them decide.

When I spent months searching for a paid job, volunteering was one of the biggest things that kept me sane. It got me out the house, enabled me to make new friends, made me feel like I was doing something good etc.

Brogues · 21/09/2020 21:09

Some interesting points so thank you for the insight. I think most of my volunteering has been something I view as unpaid work experience or indeed some worthy stuff to put on your CV. I hadn’t thought about the making friends side of things actually I guess I thought that was something that happened as a byproduct rather than the main aim.

Good to see a few have mentioned male volunteers. Now I’ve had a better think I suppose junior sports aka football and scouts leaders are more often male than female. I just never see them manning a stall at the school fete.

OP posts:
Leeds2 · 21/09/2020 21:36

I think a lot of women are indeed recommended to volunteer when they say they are lonely, want to make friends, have people contact etc. This is what I did when my DD was in primary school, and a lot of my school mum friends had gone back to work. I chose it because it fitted around school times, so it was known that I wouldn't go in during school holidays (I did when DD was at a holiday club, but not as a general rule) and that I could cancel at short notice if she was ill. So, I always suggest it as an option if people want to make friends, fill time etc.
If a man cam on here asking for suggestions to fill time, make friends etc I would suggest volunteering to him too. And I do know a lot of men who volunteer at weekend sports, scouts, park run, church stuff, food banks, school governors etc. So I don't think it is that outlandish a suggestion!

wegetthejobdone · 21/09/2020 22:00

I got my first job out of university because of volunteering and it helped get my job recently after 5 years off work. I think it depends on the type of volunteering though. Helping at the school fete isn't the same as running an event, and it also depends how long you do it for. I volunteered for a year for a charity that took children on day trips because I wanted to work with children, second time around I volunteered at Citizens Advice for a year as I wanted to get back to doing advice and Guidance or similar.

I also did some national level volunteering in my 20s and had a number of trips out and nice lunches paid for by the home office and was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, all of which was good fun. Second time, more about the social side and talking to adults about something other than children, and about building my confidence again.

wegetthejobdone · 21/09/2020 22:01

(So yes I am one of those people that always recommend volunteering!)

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