While women continue to make inroads into prestigious high-wage professions dominated by men, more men are reaching for the dream in female-dominated occupations their fathers might never have considered.
Analysis of census data by The New York Times shows from 2000 to 2010, occupations that are more than 70% female accounted for almost one-third of all job growth for men—double the share of the previous decade. Men have begun flocking to fields long the province of women partially because a steady full-time job with benefits has become harder to find, particularly for men and for those without a college degree.
The trend began well before the recession and appears to be driven not only by financial concerns, but also quality-of-life issues and a gradual erosion of gender stereotypes.
To the extent the shift to “women’s work” has been accelerated by recession, the change may reverse when the economy recovers. “Are boys today saying, ‘I want to grow up and be a nurse’? Or are they saying, ‘I want a job that’s stable and recession proof’?” asks Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress.
In interviews, however, about two dozen men played down the economic considerations saying the stigma associated with choosing such jobs had faded; the jobs were appealing not just because they offered stable employment, but because they were more satisfying.