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Non-Traditional Employment for Women

Chipping Away At the Glass Ceiling

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In 1999, Carly Fiorina became President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company. In 1997 New York City's famous Plaza Hotel hired its first female doorman (or doorperson). During the same year, the NBA announced that they had hired their first female referees. These stories are only the fairly recent of many "firsts" for women. The following information was found in the ABC-CLIO Companion to Women in the Workplaceby Dorothy Schneider and Carl F. Schneider (ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1993): in 1881, Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first female professional architect, set up practice in Buffalo, New York. In 1903 Mignon Nicholson became the first woman veterinarian. In 1910 the first woman police officer was appointed under civil service regulations in Los Angeles. Just think — so many years later we are still talking about women breaking ground by taking non-traditional jobs.

Some Facts About Non-Traditional Employment for Women

  • The U.S. Department of Labor defines a non-traditional occupation for women as one in which less than 25% of those employed in the field are women ("Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau).
  • According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, in 2009 the median weekly earnings of women who worked full-time were only 80% of men's weekly earnings.
  • Women are under-represented in many occupations, including those in the trades, technology and science fields, which typically pay well.
  • Women employed in non-traditional jobs earn higher wages than women employed in traditionally female occupations.

Considering Non-Traditional Occupations

If you consider the facts listed above, you can make the argument that part of the reason women earn less than men do is because they aren't typically employed in occupations that pay better — these non-traditional occupations. That is a point worth considering. When choosing a career, women, as well as men, should consider all the options available to them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, here are some of the occupations that are considered non-traditional for women ("Quick Facts on Nontraditional Occupations for Women." U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau):

Additional Resources for Women Interested in Non-Traditional Careers

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

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."

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."

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