Designating a job as “female” can automatically diminish its authority, even among the minority of men in the field. Luckily, gender lines are blurring, with new posts in female-dominated fields increasingly being filled by men and vice versa.

It’s telling that when Googling “male nurse,” you’re immediately prompted with the question “what is a male nurse called?” (The top answer, by the way, is “a male nurse in the UK is called a nurse.” This applies to every English-speaking country, as far as I know.) It seems that some professions are so gendered that it’s become built into their de facto definition. Gender-marked job titles such as “midwife” and “mailman” actively encourage gender being part of their definitions.  

The arbitrariness of gender roles

While some gendered jobs are clearly rooted in stereotypes – e.g., women as nurturers, men as financial decision-makers – others seem to be more randomly assigned. Like, who decided that bank telling is women’s work and driving taxis is men’s work?

The history of computing gives further testament to the arbitrariness of gendered occupations. In the early days of the industry, computer programming was considered on par with secretarial work, meaning programmers were typically women

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