Friday, March 19, 2010

Women in Non-Traditional Jobs

Many women are taking non-traditional jobs usually associated with men only. A non-traditional occupation for women is one in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employment. But again this could change from country to country. For example it is common to have women bus drivers in USA. In India, women bus drivers are very rare. In USA, it is very rare to find a male secretary whereas in India it is not that rare. I do not know the current situation in India.

Some examples of non-traditional jobs for women are: detectives, architects, chefs, barbers, clergy, computer and office machine repairers, construction and building inspectors, railway engine driver, machinists, truck drivers, fire fighters, airline pilots, construction occupations, and small engine mechanics.

Existing expectations that women are more verbal, more eager to please, and easier to talk to than men…..make them prime candidates for jobs that combine technical expertise with sales.

Some of the benefits are higher salary, advancement opportunity, more job availability, and job satisfaction.

They have to face some disadvantages also. There are work place harassment, lack of family support, and problems in taking care of children.

Here are some of the women who were “first” to take non-traditional jobs.

Lt.Col. Sharon Preszler of the United States became the first woman fighter pilot in 1993.

In July 2008, Capt. Jammie Jamieson became the first female operational and combat-ready pilot of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-22 A Raptor.

In a male dominated world of global shipping, Capt. Karin Stahre Janson of Sweden became the first in charge of a cruise ship. She has taken command of Royal Caribbean’s 2,400 passenger ship Monarch of the Seas in May 2007. We were in her ship and met her last year when we took a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico.

Capt. Emily Howell Warner became the first female commercial airline pilot when Frontier Airlines hired her in 1973. (Note: Many other names are also floating as the first female commercial airline pilot.)

Carly Fiorina became the first female CEO of a large corporation. In 1999, she became President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company.

In 1997, Violet Palmer became the first female referee in the NBA (National Basketball Association).

Women continue to progress in taking many “non-traditional” jobs. As more women take jobs that were once dominated by men, many jobs that were considered non-traditional will no longer be in that category. Let us hope, some day, there is no job that would come under non-traditional category.


  1. Yay!! 3 cheers to the women pioneers!!

  2. In India also women are are getting into new territories everyday, one where I like them is as taxi makes one feel so safe.

  3. Interesting post, SG. We have some women auto drivers also now, in Chennai. They say they don't feel threatened in this job.

    Did you read about Ratan Tata interested in Nooyi to be the CEO of his company! She is already the Head of Pepsi!

    I am so happy to know that times are changing for good, for women.

  4. Thanks for your comments MindfulMeanderer. Yes, 3 Cheers.

  5. Thanks for your comments Samvedna. I am glad Indian women are into new territories everyday.

  6. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. I am glad there are women auto drivers in Chennai. (I have a question. Do they also charge very high rates like the men auto drivers?)

  7. Thats nice..progress in the right direction!! I noticed a woman playing the nadaswaram at a wedding quite recently (the entire troup was male)and was surprised. Needless to say, she got the attention of everyone:) cool huh?

  8. Good information. Have you heard of women climbing the coconut trees ? that is also becoming quite common now.

  9. This is a very interesting n informative post. I'm back visiting your blog after a long time and I am glad I read this one. In Kerala, we have a lot of women who are using opportunities to do jobs that are not traditional such as driving autos, working as conductors in buses, working at petrol pumps or as traffic police, that sort of thing. They have to face a lot of cynicism from the society but they are coping well. Sexual harassment at many places is an issue but I think today's women who work know how to handle it by being alert and firm and without creating a ruckus. Hats off to today's empowered Indian women. We need more coming forward!

  10. Thanks for your comments lostworld. It is a pleasant surprise that a woman is playing a nadaswaram instrument.

  11. Thanks for your comments Chitra. This is unbelievable....women coconut trees. But very progressive.

  12. Thanks for your comments Sanand. And, welcome back. Kerala women have been in the forefront in taking non-traditional jobs.

    Foremer U.S. Vice President, Al Gore, paid complements to Kerala women and their impressive rate of literacy in his book "Earth in the Balance".

  13. the world is changing far as women are doing it as they enjoy the job, it is fine..but one should not do a non-traditional job out of sheer ego like to prove themselves that they can do everything..

    thanks for sharing those examples :)

  14. Thanks for your comments Neha. You are absolutely right. Women should not taken on any non-traditional job just to prove they can do anything.

  15. After reading your article about women in non traditional jobs, I am tempted to write about my mother.

    Though she was a school teacher , most common job for women world over, what I want to write about is her taking the family responsibility and her
    determination to support her family. After India's Partition in 1947, my parents migrated to Delhi from Peshawar (now in Pakistan). She was then only 17 years old
    and had a baby boy (born in Nov 1947). Her qualification, only 8th grade pass. My father could not secure a decent job and when i was born in feb 1951, my mother took on the family responsibility.
    She started giving tuition's and also started attending private coaching classes for higher studies.

    She got a regular teaching Job in a Govt.Girls School. She would go to teach in the morning , look after the household jobs during the day and go to study in the evenings. this continued for many years until she finished her post graduation.

    She has been the strength of our family, me and my brother and all her grand children love her a lot.

    May God Give her long life.

  16. Thanks for your comments Kiran. And, thanks for visiting my blog.

    Kudos to your mother. She is a symbol of strength and devotion.

    Kiran, please visit her as often as your can. Thanks.

  17. It's always good to see women breakthrough these gender barriers.
    It's also impressive when we are acknowledged for being the best at these so called "non-traditional" jobs.

    Kathryn Bigelow

    p.s. Avatar SUCKS!

  18. Thanks for your comments Kathryn. Congratulations on winning this year's Oscar Award for the Best Director for the movie "The Hurt Locker".

    However, it looks like you are more gloating over beating your ex-husband James Cameron for the Best Director than actually enjoying your win.

  19. wow that was like a moral boost up for women :)
    thanks for sharing the facts :)

  20. Yeah. In my office women are less than 20%. So that means I am in a very tradition job and telecom is the traditional company.whoa yup, it is :)

    BTW this woman is also looking for a new job...

  21. Thanks for your comments Rajlakshmi. I am glad you liked this post.

  22. Thanks for your comments numerounity. Hope you find a job of your liking soon.

  23. Thanks, SG, for sharing about Al Gore's latest book where he talked about the literacy of Kerala women. I agree with him. What I feel is unfortunate is that Kerala continues to have serious social problems that remain beyond the purview of public discussion such as dowry harassment across all stratas and religious groups, helpless of educated women to resist issues like domestic violence due to alcoholic husband and torture by in-laws. If education is to yield true value for women and the society, women need to come out of their shells and take bolder initiatives that trigger positive change. That, somehow, is not happening at all in Kerala.

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