Sep 27

Great jobs for women that were traditionally for men

Reading Time: 7 mins
Human beings are all different and those differences are exciting and exist irrespective of a person’s sex or their gender identity.
Only a few decades ago, society forced these individual differences to fit into the small and suffocating boxes of gender roles but, thanks to the bravery of men and women from all areas, speaking out and pursing their own passions, this has begun to change.
Although women started smashing on the glass ceiling more than 50 years ago, there are still some occupations which are dominated by men.
As Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt has pointed out, the argument that the gender disparity is caused by a simple lack of interest or desire to enter traditionally male-dominated industries is a poor one.
Some jobs can seem unappealing to women who have the required skill set and interest and that is because it takes determination, tenacity and perseverance to embark on careers with long standing reputations for misogyny and sexism.
As these attitudes and biases can only be challenged by all individuals pursuing the careers of their dreams, or the jobs that best suit them, here are five women who are bucking the trends.


The Truck Driver

Female Truck driver

Despite the number of trucks you’ll see on any motorway in the UK, only 0.5% of all truck drivers are women.

If you like driving and working yourself out of tight corners, though, this could be the job for you.

As Katie Gillard told The Guardian, after graduating college she soon discovered that working with young children was not for her and that trucking qualifications came naturally.

She said: “The first time I sat behind the wheel was terrifying, but I picked it up pretty quickly. I work with my father, Andrew, who owns a quarry. I’m used to people doing a double-take when I’m driving. I get it every day, particularly when I’m sitting in traffic. It doesn’t bother me too much. I really enjoy driving.”

If you are over the age of 18 and hold a full car driving licence, you can apply for a job as a trainee with a freight company or complete an LGV course with a private training provider.

You’ll also need a Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) and this can be obtained through an apprenticeship.

As well as travelling the width and breadth of the UK and even overseas, being a truck driver will give you the opportunity to challenge your driving skills and work hours that suit you.

With starting salaries from £18,500 to £22,000 a year, there’s also room for financial progression.

Interested in finding out more about truck driving? Click here for the National Careers Service job profile.


The Surgeon

Female surgeon

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 57% of university students enrolled onto a medicine or dentistry degree in the academic year 2016/2017 were women.

As the Royal College of Surgeons points out however, in the same year, women made up 11.1% of consultant surgeons in England.

Being a surgeon requires up to almost 16 years of training and is therefore an incredibly difficult career to pursue.

But as many surgeons say, the studying is worth it as it’s one of the most rewarding and exciting jobs out there.

There are also many grants and scholarship programs available to medical students to help them with course fees. More information on these can be found at this NHS website here.

And as soon as you become a doctor in training, you start earning a salary.

At entry level, this can range from £26,350 to £45,750 a year but, by the time you are working as a highly experienced consultant, you could be earning from £76,000 to £102,500 and even more in the private sector!

Describing her experience training to be a surgeon, Jo Manson writes:

“Women are not prevented from pursuing surgery as a career. I never considered it inaccessible.

That said, you have to really want to do it. Surgery is extremely competitive.

Some medical students still tell me they don’t want to do surgery because it’s incompatible with having a family. That simply isn’t true.

Some of the training coincides with the ideal child-rearing years, but having spent 15 years training to be a surgeon, I have no intention of giving it all up if I start a family.”

As Elizabeth Moulder, a fellow surgeon, also says, being a surgeon is as hard for fathers as it is for mothers and this is not something that should put off anyone entering the profession as each family can find their own unique way to make parenting work.

The point that underpins this all is there needs to be proper governmental support for mothers and fathers to make any career work.

If medicine is what you are passionate about and you want to save lives, go for it.

The greater diversity there will be in the workforce, the greater pressure there will be on society to leave its outdated preconceptions behind.

Interested in finding out more about becoming a surgeon? Click here for advice from the National Careers Service.



Female Coxswain

What’s a coxswain, I hear you ask?

More commonly known as the abbreviated version, “cox”, a coxswain is the sailor in command of a boat who steers on vessels ranging from life boats to racers.

A job advert for a coxswain in Peterhead expands on the role, detailing a coxswain’s responsibilities that include:

  • Ensuring the lifeboat and equipment work to the highest order
  • Training and inspiring the crew by taking them on seagoing exercises and identifying ways they can improve
  • Meeting the public and educating them about your work
  • Operating the lifeboat station
  • Saving lives!

Although the work can be extremely challenging as you sometimes have to be on call for 24 hours, its hard to think of another job which is so exhilarating and rewarding.

Telling The Guardian about her experience as a cox, Fran Wilkins said:

“I joined the RNLI when I was 17, after I left school. It seemed a natural thing to do. My dad is a fisherman, I have a brother in the merchant navy, another in the army as a diver and a younger brother on the same lifeboat crew. So it’s in the family. I studied sports at university, but was more interested in this. I became a coxswain last October.

The reality is that you are surrounded by men. At first, I felt I had to prove myself. Once I felt I had, it was fine. But the most important thing is that you are doing the job properly. Being in a crew, you get pulled into a very strong team who fully trust each other. I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without help from the other members.”

Do you want to find out more about becoming a coxswain? Visit the RNLI website for details.


The camera operator

Female camera operator

Camera work is a world unto itself with specialized roles within it that range from filming to operating equipment.

As a camera operator, you’ll have the chance to work on a variety of projects ranging from feature length films with outside location shoots to commercials.

You could also be involved in live broadcasting special events such as a royal wedding or the Olympics and so you’ll also get exclusive access to real life drama.

Louisa Court is a “grip”, someone who’s responsibility it is to build and operate all the equipment that supports a camera.

The equipment includes tripods, a dolly, tracks, jibs, cranes and static rigs.

Detailing people’s reactions to her when they find out she is a grip, Court says:

“It was hard when I started: I didn’t realise I was such an oddity. People would say, “Oh, you’re that girl grip.”

I have had people telling me not to touch my own gear and taking heavy gear off me because they assume I am not the grip.

I have been directed to makeup and the art department, and on numerous occasions I have been presumed to be the grip’s personal assistant – always by female production staff.

But now I’m more confident about shouting and telling people where to get off.”

As Court suggests, the heavy equipment involved in the job makes some people jump to conclusions about her ability but, in her career, she has proven them all wrong.

Keen to find out more about camera work and stand up to the stereotypes? Click here for the Prospects profile on camera operators.


the butcher

Female Butcher

Charlotte’s Butchery in Newcastle is home to one of the three women who work as butchers in the UK.

Crazy as that may sound, women make up only 0.4% of the 7000 butchers in the British industry.

Butchers prepare and sell meat and poultry and also usually make their own specialty meat pies and sausages.

According to the National Careers Service, it’s a job anyone can get into as apprenticeships mean you can learn on the job.

As with some of the other aforementioned jobs, the physicality of the work as well as the blood and guts is often portrayed in the media as being unsuitable for women.

Charlotte Harbottle suggests, however, it’s not the animals that dissuade women away from the profession but these kinds of nonsensical attitudes that mean their work and abilities aren’t valued.

She says that sometimes people come into her shop and ask her if they can speak to the butcher, not trusting her expertise because she is not male.

Writing about her experience in The New Food Economy, butcher Melissa Cortina says that “the issue of motivation is the real explanation behind the lack of female butchers and it’s what I think most people mean when they ask, “How did you become a butcher?” It’s not really a how question at all.”

But, she adds, “stereotypes notwithstanding, the face of the meat industry is changing. The old boys club is dissolving as more and more women find careers as ranchers and processors.”

“The greatest obstacle to success was my own self-consciousness about frequently being the only woman in the room.”

As Cortina suggests, it’s clear that attitudes still needs to change and that this is something all of society can contribute towards by supporting young people in their ambitions and creating positive learning environments.

So be yourself.

Be the career you want to be.

And be the change.


Are you a woman working in a male dominated world? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!


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