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Where the boys are (and aren't): Non-traditional jobs for women and men

Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

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When was the last time a male dental hygienist cleaned your teeth?

Sure, we all know that women have significantly changed the face of the American work force over the past 50 or so years. And while children today rightly dream of becoming anything they want, the fact remains that some fields continue to be dominated by one gender over the other.

Here, a look at some of the careers in which female or male employees may not have much competition for the restroom:

Non-traditional jobs for women

The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers a job where less than 25 percent of the work force is female to be a "non-traditional" job for women. Among the fields that meet this criteria are:


While there are a significant number of women employed in manufacturing, they tend to be better represented in some segments over others. For instance, about a third of the 1,467,000 people employed in the making of computer and electronic products are women. But men overwhelmingly dominate in the production of nonmetallic mineral products (think cement, pottery and glass), metal products (such as iron and steel), machinery, transportation equipment and wood products.

Nearly half of the people employed in retail trade are women. Very few of them, however, are automobile or other motor vehicle dealers; work at stores selling auto parts, accessories or tires; or are vending machine operators. Likewise, women may account for about 30 percent of all wholesale trade employees but are rarely merchant wholesalers of recyclable materials, farm product raw materials, groceries or alcoholic beverages.

Non-traditional jobs for men

Walk into any child day care service and you'll likely be greeted by a woman. Of the 1,563,000 employees in that field, a whopping 95.3 percent are female. Among other industries the BLS classifies as "non-traditional" for men:


So what about health care and education, two fields often associated with women?

Male nurses are still rather rare, though their numbers are growing. The most recent national nursing survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration reports that men accounted for 6.6 percent of all RNs in 2008, up from 5.8 percent in the 2004 survey.

Women continue to make up at least three-fourths of the work force at hospitals; the offices of physicians, dentists and optometrists; and outpatient care centers. Men account for only 13 percent of the workers at nursing care facilities, and even fewer are employed in home health care.

As for education, numbers can be deceiving. Although the BLS found that men account for about 30 percent of those employed in educational services as a whole, they tend to gravitate towards colleges, universities and technical or trade schools. If you can't remember your child ever having a male primary-school teacher, you're not alone. According to the National Education Association, only 17 percent of elementary-level teachers are men. (Men do, however, represent about a third of middle-school teachers and about half of high school teachers.)

The most gender-neutral fields

Grocery stores employ equal numbers of men and women. In manufacturing, the work force is nearly split in textile product mills (except carpets and rugs) and in places producing soaps, cleaning compounds and cosmetics. Other industries that are at or close to 50-50 include:


One last figure (which might surprise some): 50.2 percent of gas station workers are female. Maybe there is hope yet for male dental hygienists to become commonplace.

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.



Last Updated: 08/02/2011 - 11:29 AM


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