Occupational Experiences & Work Development of Women

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  • 0:00 Gender Roles
  • 1:44 Traditional Occupations
  • 2:45 Non-Traditional Occupations
  • 4:35 Traditional vs.…
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

In this video lesson, we look at traditional and non-traditional gender role occupations for females. We'll also look at why a woman may go in either direction with her occupational choice.

Gender Roles

There's a famous experiment on the effects gender can have on performance. In the experiment, the researchers took two groups of people. Each group was half males and half females. Both groups were put in separate rooms and handed a math test. Group 1 was told they were taking a general test of mathematical ability and that they should expect no differences based on gender. But group 2 was told the math test typically results in men doing better because they have superior math skills. In group 1, everyone does about the same. In group 2, men far outperform women on the test. But it was the same test in both groups!

Gender is whether a person is male or female. Unfortunately, many people make potentially untrue assumptions about people based on their gender, like the group that was told that women aren't as good as men at math. Gender stereotypes can really hurt people in many different ways.

Gender roles are the ideas that people's behaviors and activities are dictated by their gender. For many people, they may seem left over from previous generations, but for others, they are very much a part of their present lives. For women, it explains why some people think that females must go into caretaking professions, like school teaching, or helper positions, like nursing or executive assisting. These ideas are why some people believe that men should not be nurses or school teachers, but instead should be doctors and professors. These idea, originally stemming from the idea that men and women were somehow different, are holdovers from more sexist times, even though they have no basis in reality.

In this lesson, we will look at how being female affects occupational experiences, development and choices.

Traditional Occupations

Daisy has chosen a traditional path for women. She is an executive assistant. She married her high school sweetheart and when she became pregnant, she quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom.

Daisy's life follows a traditionally expected path for women, according to traditional Western gender roles. She married young and took a caretaker position where she watched over her boss, without having to make the high pressure choices herself. She became a stay-at-home mom when she became pregnant.

If Daisy chose this path because it is what she wanted, that's great for her. She should be allowed to follow the path that is right for her and not worry about anyone else's expectations. However, if Daisy wanted to be a CEO but felt like she had to be a stay-at-home mom because she was a woman, it could mean that she is unhappy or unfulfilled. The point is, that traditional roles work for some people, but don't work for others. Daisy and women like her should make decisions based on their personal skills and desires, not based on their gender.

Non-Traditional Occupations

Let's look at a different example. Lou was at the top of her class in business school. When she graduated, she chose to work at a prestigious firm where she quickly rose through the ranks. She was known for her no bull attitude and her ability to get things done on her own. We could say that Lou has bucked nearly every gender role and assumption placed before her.

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