Sciencewomen

Where are the new jobs for women?

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgLinda Hirshman has a good op-ed in today’s New York Times, arguing that the jobs Obama is proposing to make are in industries where men constitute the majority of workers. She writes:

The bulk of the stimulus program will provide jobs for men, because building projects generate jobs in construction, where women make up only 9 percent of the work force.

It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male as well, especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms also employ construction workers and engineers.

Go read the rest too. Let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. #1 Katharine
    December 9, 2008

    I found her article quite sexist, actually.

  2. #2 Silver Fox
    December 9, 2008

    I see what Katharine means: “A just economic stimulus plan must include jobs in fields like social work and teaching, where large numbers of women work.” It seems like a lot of assumptions as to where women work and how “jobs for women” should be added.

    If there are jobs for engineers and geologists, consulting or otherwise, I think those jobs should include women. I’m wondering where these jobs will be located and how they will be advertised. Are they mostly for people who have been laid off or people who are on unemployment? As a consultant, I wouldn’t qualify for unemployment if I was laid off.

    As for the quote above, I would think that there are *now* a fair number of women in agriculture, forestry, and road building. I don’t know about construction – although I have personally worked in construction building houses.

    She also says, “Maybe it would be a better world if more women became engineers and construction workers, but programs encouraging women to pursue engineering have existed for decades without having much success.” Isn’t that untrue? Numbers have increased, maybe not as fast as we’d like. You probably know more about that as far as engineering goes than I do, though.

  3. #3 Carrie
    December 9, 2008

    I don’t agree with the NYT Op-Ed, because it reinforces the stereotype that women aren’t interested in and aren’t good at construction or engineering (or science!). But I do think that effort should continue to be put into ensuring that women DO get an equal chance at these jobs, which does NOT happen.

  4. #4 D
    December 9, 2008

    I’d rather ask a question: please name a production (as distinct from service) industry where women aren’t greatly in the minority.

    Sadly, the enterprises where women make up the majority of the workforce are all human-service fields [1]: retail, social services, teaching, nursing, etc. The good news is that just about anything that helps the economy will catch them on the second pass, but it does make “infrastructure” spending less likely to benefit them directly.

    [1] At least that I know of. Exceptions would be a relief.

  5. #5 Girl Technologist
    December 9, 2008

    I agree that whether this article pigeonholes women into only wanting certain jobs over others, the vast majority of new jobs created WILL go to men. Like Carrie said, we need to be making sure that women have an equal chance to get the new jobs, which probably won’t happen anyway.

  6. #6 D. C. Sessions
    December 9, 2008

    “programs encouraging women to pursue engineering have existed for decades without having much success.” Isn’t that untrue? Numbers have increased, maybe not as fast as we’d like.

    No, actually freshman enrollment in STEM fields (outside of biosciences) have decreased since the early 90s.


    dcs
    Who is trying to figure out how to get Dr. Pawley and his daughter talking to each other without being too obvious.

  7. #7 Carol
    December 9, 2008

    Wall Street Journal noted this week that males are losing their jobs at 10x the rate as females in the current recession, primarily because of factory lay-offs. However, as the lay-offs spread to services and retail, the ratios will change. And, yes, the possible infrastructure jobs are likely to be proportionately more filled with males than females. Another looming problem is university retrenchments and faculty hiring freezes. The fixed-term, adjunct and non-tenure track faculty will go first, again disproportionately affecting females,

  8. #8 D. C. Sessions
    December 9, 2008

    The fixed-term, adjunct and non-tenure track faculty will go first, again disproportionately affecting females,

    Wrong tense. The two children currently in University are reporting that the notices have already been given.

    In one case, the (tech institute) university has chosen to whack the non-tenured humanities faculty — to the extent that some classes required for graduation won’t be available in 2009.

  9. #9 Academic
    December 9, 2008

    Part of me wonders if potential to work in the green industry will encourage women to pursue careers in engineering. That being said, I was surprised to see that Obama’s stimulus plan does not seem to create teaching jobs to address issues of overcrowding in schools. He wants to expand the various “Corps” programs (AmeriCorps, PeaceCorps, etc); so I’m surprised that longer-term teaching positions seem avoided.

  10. #10 scrabcake
    December 9, 2008

    Hmmmm. As one of the few, proud 12%, I’d like to say that no one is actively stopping women from taking those jobs. Sure, they can be a little harder for women. It seems easy to get pigeonholed, and you’re expected to play political games more than the men are. But there’s nothing to stop women from going into engineering, and I firmly believe that if you’re wiling to fight, you can be successful.

    I think the problem here is not that we aren’t getting more teaching or social work jobs, but that women are brought up to aim for those jobs. Even the toys we buy little girls tell them what they *should* be interested in. Plastic classrooms and ironing boards sure aren’t going to encourage a girl to go into sciences. My parents made it clear that I had to be able to support myself, and that in their view, the only way to do that was to go into science or maths.

    I think that the expectations that we raise little girls with have changed very little since the days when the only career options open to girls were “telephone operator”, “teacher”, and “elevator girl”, and I still think that, although less obvious than it is in countries like Japan, there’s still an expectation that girls will get a career until they are married, after which they’ll take care of their kids and extended family. At least the Japanese wear the problem on their sleeves!
    But yeah. Rambling aside, Obama’s not sexist. This policy’s not sexist. There’s nothing wrong with the policy.
    There is something wrong with the expectations we instill in our little girls, and if you don’t believe me, go hang out in the girl aisles in toys ‘r us for a while.

  11. #11 Silver Fox
    December 9, 2008

    No, actually freshman enrollment in STEM fields (outside of biosciences) have decreased since the early 90s.

    I am truly sad to hear that. :(

  12. #12 D. C. Sessions
    December 9, 2008

    As one of the few, proud 12%, I’d like to say that no one is actively stopping women from taking those [engineering] jobs.

    Glad to have you aboard. Can we clone you a few times, please?

    There is something wrong with the expectations we instill in our little girls, and if you don’t believe me, go hang out in the girl aisles in toys ‘r us for a while.

    Or in $DAUGHTER’s case, a teacher. $DAUGHTER apparently let slip that she expected to be an engineer like her Daddy when she grew up and $TEACHER told her that that was not a job for girls. I didn’t find out for a long time or I might have done something profoundly regrettable.

  13. #13 quasarpulse
    December 10, 2008

    I can’t say I like the message in that article. First of all, women do work in those industries, and many more are qualified to work in them but can’t find jobs. Secondly, while I agree that it would be great to hire more teachers and social workers – there’s certainly a need for them – it’s disingenuous to claim that creating jobs “for women” in service industries would somehow make up for not employing us in the green technology projects. Service-sector jobs don’t pay nearly as well as production jobs. They’re not equivalent.

    It’s like a school trying to claim it’s satisfied its Title IX obligations by having as many cheerleaders as football players. The two are not equivalent.

  14. #14 becca
    December 10, 2008

    1) Aren’t there (relatively) a lot of women in ecology? If we can’t find people with scientific mindsets who can be trained for environmental engineering; we’re doing something wrong.
    And I suspect if we fix forestry and agriculture to not have the image problem of “raping the land”, we can even get some ecologists to go in that direction.
    2) Aren’t law and consulting technically “human services fields”? Can’t we get some kind of cross training for that (ok, so the credentials needed for lawyers might make it trickier… but presumably more lawyers also involves other related jobs)?

    If these are the jobs we need, simply hire teachers (women, right?) to train women in short term (3-6 month) intensive vocational ed to transition from one thing to another.

  15. #15 Rebecca
    December 10, 2008

    If you look at industry-by-industry employment data, you’ll notice that education and health care are the industries that were hurt least in both the last recession (2001) and so far in this one. While I am definitely in favor of improving education, that is not where jobs are being lost the most.

  16. #16 PeggyL
    December 10, 2008

    For data on trends in engineering degrees awarded to women, see Engineering Trends: http://www.engtrends.com/IEE/0506C.php. This report is available for free. More recent and in depth analyses are available for a fee. Another good source of data is the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. This recent presentation includes a breakdown of the STEM workforce by gender: http://www.cpst.org/2008Meeting/presentations/frehill.pdf.

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  18. #18 Ivory
    December 13, 2008

    If Obama fixes funding for healthcare, folks in the allied health fields will benefit enormously and they are overwhelmingly female. Also, if he funds increased investment in training healthcare workers that helps women – let’s fully fund Title 7! Help for physician reimbursement will also help women, who are found disproportionately in primary care, pediatrics and other more general specialties and represent about 50% of MDs overall.

  19. #19 Aquaria
    December 16, 2008

    Or in $DAUGHTER’s case, a teacher. $DAUGHTER apparently let slip that she expected to be an engineer like her Daddy when she grew up and $TEACHER told her that that was not a job for girls. I didn’t find out for a long time or I might have done something profoundly regrettable.

    In 1976, I was struggling with a minor problem in introductory algebra, and approached my (FEMALE) teacher for clarification. She told me, and I quote, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about learning that. A pretty girl like you, all you’ll need to know is basic math for when you’re married.”

    When I was working as an electronics technician in the military about 8 years later, the other females in my shop loved that story. Yep, I don’t know how we pretty girls ever figured out the math for figuring amplitude modulation and all that electronicy stuff…

  20. #20 divya
    February 7, 2009

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