Yesterday’s blog (1/31/17) was about blue-collar workers and the potential for them to find new jobs in computer coding. That’s good news. But the job market has had a number of work opportunities for some time which men have been slow to consider. I’m talking about pink collar opportunities — work traditionally performed by women. Case in point. When I taught school, a male teacher in the earlier years — kindergarten through grade 6 — was practically unknown. Likewise there were few male nurses or nurse practitioners or home healthcare workers.
Blue collar jobs have an aura of being physical and, therefore, “manly.” We refer to pink collar jobs as those that require empathy and caring. This stereotypical thinking makes us forget that moving a 300 lb. patient into and out of bed requires more strength than turning a wrench on an assembly line. Hospitals are so desperate for male workers, says writer Claire Cain Miller, they are repackaging their job descriptions to emphasize these manly aspects. “…comparing the adrenaline rush of working as an ER nurse to mountain climbing.” (“Why men resist ‘pink collar jobs’,”by Claire Cain Miller, excerpted from The New York Times in The Week, January 20, 2017, pg. 34.)
More than a fifth of American men are without employment, yet a host of pink collar jobs remain unfilled. (Ibid pg. 34) Surely, aiding the sick, the elderly and the young counts as much in our society as digging for coal. Surely, having a pay check is more satisfying than collecting unemployment or writing angry letters to Congress.
Pink collar work doesn’t command the salaries of blue-collar work, it’s true. But as men enter these fields, that inequality is changing. (Ibid pg. 34.) In the meantime, there are pluses beyond a fat paycheck. Pink collar jobs won’t move to third world countries. Many come with solid health care benefits and vacation packages. Like being an ultrasound technician, a variety of them don’t require a college degree
Chucking out prejudices that divide men’s work from women’s is an idea whose time has come. Jobs are out there. What’s required is a little mental adjustment. Labor is neither blue or pink but thinking makes it so.
(Originally published 2/1/17)