"No, scratch the word 'career'. Careers are for people who wish to advance. I only want to survive, draw a paycheck. "
― Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed
We have heard the words 'white-collar jobs' (salaried employees typically in administrative or clerical positions) and 'blue-collar jobs' (employee performing manual or technical labor), but have you heard of pink-collar jobs? Referring to a class of jobs typically filled by women, pink-collar jobs often tend to be personal or service-oriented. While there are men in these professions, majority of the population in these jobs are women.
These jobs usually pay far less than white-collar or blue-collar jobs. Some of the typical pink-collar jobs include: nurses, teachers, waitresses, secretaries, phone-operators, receptionists, retail workers, child-care providers, and librarians.
Although women now hold important positions in different professional fields, there is a skewed ratio of women in pink-collar jobs as opposed to manufacturing and other fields. This article tells you more about the term and its origin.
Origin of the Term
The term was coined during the Second World War. During this time many women worked as secretaries, typists, and transcribers. Even after the war ended and the US economy evolved, these jobs continued to be dominated by women and became typical 'woman's jobs'. The Women's Liberation Movement brought about many changes for the acceptance of women in the workplace throughout the 1970s and even fought to change the stereotypical role of women in professions. Despite this, men continued to acquire better-paid jobs while women were stuck with the low-paying ones.
Today, among the various pink-collar jobs, major proportion of college-educated working women remain in teaching and nursing. This, despite the fact that, today, women have obtained four-year college degrees, and are more likely to work in managerial and professional careers than twenty years ago. A study conducted by the American Association of University Women found that women continue to remain underrepresented in the fastest-growing occupations such as systems analysts, software designers, and engineers, which are also the most well-paid jobs.
Why Women Continue to Stay on in Pink-collar Jobs
Apart from the persistent stereotypes, there are many other reasons women stay on these jobs. Some of these include:
✦ Convenience and ease in finding such jobs.
✦ The job flexibility helps in taking care of home responsibilities and children.
✦ A lack of proper role models in a number of professional fields.
✦ Women are not considered to be serious about their career, which deters hiring in certain occupations.
All About the Pink-collar Ghetto
The word ghetto refers to a place where people are marginalized, for example, an impoverished, neglected, or disadvantaged residential area of a city. The term pink-collar ghetto or the pink ghetto originated in 1983 and refers to the traditional jobs and workplaces that women are stuck to, doing low-wage, low-mobility, underpaid jobs with little or no chance for job advancement. Most of these dead-end service-sector jobs, like childcare and secretarial work had endless duties and little or no chance of promotion.
Apart from the fact that most of these jobs require very little education, and therefore, pay less, pink-collar jobs are also paid comparatively less than blue-collar jobs, which required less formal education as compared to managerial and administrative white-collar jobs. This is attributed to the segregation of women, and the absence of any recognized unions for women in the workforce. Since men are better unionized in blue-collar jobs, like construction, mining, manufacturing, etc., they tend to get paid better. Pink-collar jobs also lack workplace flexibility, and penalize women for being mothers.
Till today, a majority of women are trapped in the pink ghetto. A solution to this is provided in Sharon H. Mastracci's book Breaking Out of the Pink-Collar Ghetto. According to her, if women seek employment in non-traditional jobs, they can increase their skills and income.
Is the term Pink-collar Job Redundant?
With the national employment figures reaching an all-time high, a number of blue-collar workers have felt the brunt of this problem. As opposed to this, occupations with 70 percent female workforce accounted for a third of all job growth. According to The New York Times, there is an increasing influx of men in pink-collar jobs. The men in these fields are not foreign-born, non-English speakers with limited career options, but people with college degrees and belonging to all races and ages. With the influx of a number of men in these fields, it might be a good time to do away with the concept of pink-collar jobs altogether.
However, there is a hitch to this fact as well. According to the New York Times, "Men earn more than women even in female-dominated jobs. And white men in particular who enter those fields easily move up to supervisory positions, a phenomenon known as the glass escalator - as opposed to the glass ceiling that women encounter in male-dominated professions."
Though on the surface, gender stereotypes may be dissolving, in reality, they persist. What is needed is a great shift for our society towards a new, less rigid understanding of which jobs are for men and which jobs are for women. The focus should now shift from men and women jobs to job equality and equal pay.