Pink Collar Blues
By: Mariya Lewter
As an aspiring sports journalist, I am always reminded of the fact that I will be one of very few women in a male-dominated industry. I’ve heard countless lectures about how I must be at the top of my game at all times to show that, although I am a woman, I belong in this field. Having to constantly prove myself because I am a woman working a “man’s” job has always bothered me.
One day in my American History Since 1865 class, my professor Dr. Hamilton was discussing second-wave feminism of the 1960’s. He touched on the woman’s place in the workforce and explained that, back during the Second World War, women were working “pink-collar” jobs. These were jobs such as secretaries, teachers, nurses, and many other service jobs, that were deemed to be only for women.
During the lecture, Dr. Hamilton told us a very daunting fact: the top ten jobs for women today are still the same top ten jobs that women worked in the 1970’s. With all of the [supposed] progress that women have made over the last few decades in the fight for equality, how is it that women are still in the same situation we were in over 40 years ago? Has much progress been made at all?
Forbes just recently published an article about the top 20 best-paying jobs for women in 2014 and highlighted the fact that participation among women in the U.S. labor force has stalled and remained flat since 1993, which is mostly due to the fact that women find it difficult to balance work and family life. Many of the jobs on the list included pink-collar jobs: job titles like nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and psychologist that one would normally associate with women.
Granted, these are not the only jobs that women are working. There are so many women that are lawyers, doctors, and even presidents or vice presidents of large corporations. There were even a few on the Forbes list, such as chief executive and surgeon. However, not only do the women who do work these positions make less than their male counterparts—about 17% less according to the Forbes article—but they are still heavily the minority.
Over spring break, while I was in Boston, I met a woman named Kimberly who is the Vice President of Strategic Development for Farmington Valley Rare Coin & Investment Company. There are about a dozen women who work with her, and she is the only female executive within the company. She is a great example of a woman in a position of power, especially in a male-dominated industry. However, it is time for women in top jobs to become the norm, not a surprise.
I do not look down on women who work these “pink-collar” jobs, and neither should anyone else. When it comes to having a career, everyone should do what he or she is passionate about. Nonetheless, I want to know that women are in these “pink-collar” fields because that is what they truly wanted to do and not because that is what society has designated.
As a woman who will be soon entering yet another male-dominated industry, I want to encourage other women to also venture out and see that we are just as capable of not only doing the same jobs that men do but also succeeding in them.