Why Are Women Praised Only When They Succeed In Male-Dominated Fields?

Close your eyes. Picture a stereotypical “girl boss” in your mind. You’re probably not thinking of a nurse or a teacher, are you?

By Ella Carroll-Smith3 min read
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Women are encouraged to put work above all else nowadays, as though that’s the only way we can find purpose in life, and women who choose to go into male-dominated fields are viewed as the ultimate professional champions. Female entrepreneurs and businesswomen are dubbed “girl bosses” and put on a pedestal, where they’re admired for their scrappiness and their choice to prioritize the hustle above all else. 

The girl boss phenomenon is part of a broader trend that has been gaining steam in our society, where women who succeed in male-dominated fields are deemed more praise-worthy than women who opt for more traditionally female roles. Just google “women in male dominated fields” and you’ll be inundated by article after article about how women can succeed in male dominated fields, why it’s unfair that there are more male truck drivers and carpenters, and why we need more female CEOs. 

California just tried to pass a law requiring women on corporate boards. While the law was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, it’s still indicative of a growing movement. Analysts and “experts” love to kindle outrage with statistics about how women only make up 7.9% of aerospace engineers and 9.9% of the construction industry. This constant narrative in our society that women need to “take the man down” and replace him in every powerful role in the professional world isn’t helpful though. All it does is breed discontent on both sides of the issue. 

More Women in Traditionally Male Roles Isn’t Always a Good Thing

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with a woman who opts for a more traditionally masculine career, if that’s where her professional passions really lie. If you’re a woman who dreams of becoming an airline pilot or wants to work in a STEM field or become a financial analyst, then great! Chase that dream. But only if it’s your dream and you’re not pursuing a grueling career simply because you think it somehow makes you more praise-worthy or “badass” than a woman who opts to be a homemaker or a hair stylist. 

Contrary to popular belief, women don’t need to dominate every field of the workforce. Yes, we should elevate the women who truly want to become brain surgeons, but that doesn’t mean we need to vilify male doctors and it also doesn’t mean that a woman who becomes a surgeon is more praiseworthy than a woman who chooses to stay home and raise her children. After all, shaping the future generation of human beings is a pretty darn important job too. 

Women actually don’t need to dominate every field of the workforce.

There’s also a very good reason that many women don’t want to go into male-dominated fields. Did you know that men are actually 10 times more likely to be killed at work than women are? That’s because they’re far more likely to take dangerous, labor-intensive jobs like logging, fishing, or working on an oil rig. Those are extreme examples, for sure, but the same general concept applies to other typically male-dominated (and less deadly) fields such as finance or aerospace engineering. Women are less likely to take those jobs because they usually involve long hours, travel and time spent away from family, and higher amounts of stress. 

Many women (not all, but many) typically prefer careers that will allow them to spend more time with their families, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, women and men are much better off pursuing careers and goals that align more with their respective strengths. 

Masculine vs. Feminine Energy 

Men and women are different. That’s apparently a controversial thing to say nowadays, but it’s true. Aside from the obvious biological differences, we also carry ourselves with different energies, which make us better suited for different roles in work and society at large. Men typically have more masculine energy and women have more feminine energy. Masculine energy is typically associated with being more action-oriented, aggressive, and decisive. Men are doers. Feminine energy on the other hand, is more intuitive, creative, and nurturing. 

These energies are not mutually exclusive – we all carry both sides of the coin within us. Some women might have more masculine energy than others, and vice versa. But for the most part, the majority of women are more feminine and men more masculine. This is part of the reason that women thrive more in nurturing roles such as nursing, teaching, and homemaking, whereas men are more oriented towards hard labor and highly competitive or analytical work. 

With this in mind, it’s not all that surprising that about 90% of nurses and 75% of teachers are women. There’s no doubt that nurses and teachers are two of the most important jobs in our society, so why aren’t they viewed in the same limelight as more male-oriented careers? Aren’t aiding the sick and teaching children valuable skills just as, if not more, important than launching a new business venture or working on Wall Street? We should put female nurses and teachers up on the same pedestal we put the entrepreneurial girl boss on. 

We should put female nurses and teachers up on the same pedestal we put the entrepreneurial girl boss on. 

The endless championing of women who succeed in male-dominated fields often leads women into the false belief that your job should be your whole life, but that’s a lie. Putting your entire life on hold for your career or prioritizing your job over everything else will not make you a happier person. Professional success is great, but there are other areas of your life that you should cultivate with just as much fortitude and passion – if not more. No matter what your job is, you’re ultimately replaceable, but you’re never replaceable in the eyes of your loved ones, so be sure to nurture those connections. 

There are many other areas of your life that you should find fulfillment in outside your job, whether it’s spending time with your family or working on a hobby or even just going for a walk in nature. Take the time to appreciate the world around you and share experiences with the people who are important to you. Having a strong social circle helps ground you and makes you better-equipped to handle all the twists and turns that life throws your way, especially when it comes to the workplace. 

Closing Thoughts

No matter what path your professional life takes, don’t let it define you and don’t choose a career because you think it will make you worthier or a better example of a professional female. There are many ways to find professional success, so pick a path that plays to your strengths and helps you achieve the goals of your choosing. 

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