Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Non-Traditional Careers for Women

By Karilyn Van Oosten

In the ABC-CLIO Companion to Women in the Workplace by Dorothy Schneider and Carl F. Schneider (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1993) we find the following interesting information: Louise Blanchard Bethune, in 1881, was the first female professional architect set up practice in Buffalo, New York. Eighteen years later in 1903, the first woman veterinarian, Mignon Nicholson, establishes her career. Then, in 1910, under civil service regulations, Los Angeles appoints the first woman police officer.

Jumping ahead several decades to 1997, we find the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, hires their first female door-person. And in that same year the first female referees are hired by the National Basketball Association (NBA). These stories are only few of many "firsts" for women in “non-traditional occupations”. And as you can see, they occur in the not so distant past.

Here are some more facts about Non-Traditional Employment for women:

  • A non-traditional occupation is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as one where women comprise less than 25% of the employed workers in that particular field ("Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau).
  • In 2009, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, women who worked full-time had median weekly earnings at 80% of men's weekly earnings.
  • Occupations including those in the trades, technology and science fields, are under-represented by women.
  • Women whom have non-traditional jobs tend to earn higher wages than those employed in traditional female occupations.

Considering Non-Traditional Occupations

The facts listed above, may suggest that part of the reason women statistically earn a lower paycheck than men is because they aren't typically employed in the occupations that pay better — these non-traditional female occupations. Therefore, when choosing a career, women, should consider all the options available to them- not just traditional occupations.

Take a look at these example occupations that are considered non-traditional for women according to the U.S. Department of Labor ("Quick Facts on Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau):

• detectives
• architects
• chefs
• barbers
• clergy
• computer and office machine repairers
• construction and building inspectors
• railroad conductors
• machinists
• truck drivers
• fire fighters
• aircraft pilots
• construction occupations
• small engine mechanics

Additional Resources for Women Interested in Non-Traditional Careers

Many additional resources are available from the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. They present statistical information to help you learn more about non-traditional careers for women. Here are a few:

National Association of Women in Construction: "NAWIC is an international association that promotes and supports the advancement and employment of women in the construction industry."

Work4Women: This project from Wider Opportunities for Women, or WOW, helps women and girls explore nontraditional jobs, find training programs and support systems to help existing women workers remain in the male-dominated fields.

Nontraditional Employment for Women: NEW is a New York City based organization that provides "occupational skills and fitness training, job readiness, counseling and case management, and job placement services in occupations in which women are underrepresented."

About the Author:
Karilyn is the Director of Strategic Alliances at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She has a strong background in business development with more than 10 years of experience. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, as well as, Spanish, a masters in language and culture and is a candidate for her Doctorate of Psychology.

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