Since the day a child is born, subtle and not-so-subtle gender stereotypes come into play. It can look cute to give all pink things to a baby girl and blue ones to a baby boy. Growing up, children are encouraged to take up hobbies that are considered suitable for their gender. While girls are usually seen as enjoying games like tea parties and dress-up, boys are perceived as motivated to play outdoor games and sports. This process of learning social expectations and behaviour associated with gender is called gender socialization, and starts before a child begins school.
Stereotypes learned in early childhood can confine a child to limiting beliefs when it comes to choosing a career later on. However, the good thing is that today’s youngsters are becoming more aware of the effects of gender stereotypes on education and career, and are set to break the mold.
Here are 5 career pathways that defy gender stereotypes and prove that careers have no gender:
For years, boxing has been considered a career pathway strictly for males. Boxing requires a lot of physical strength and intensity, and as males are typically physically larger than females it is thought of as a masculine field. But contrary to popular opinion, boxing is not gendered. Femmes have proven time and again that they can also learn and master boxing movements swiftly, just like their male counterparts. Ambitious and strong women like Mary Kom, Jessica McCaskill, and Mariana Juarez have made breakthroughs in boxing and are proving with every punch that careers have no gender. They are an inspiration to many young boxers to step up and rule the ring.
Gone are the days when only men could join firefighting services. In India, this field had very strict restrictions, however, the rules were relaxed in 2019 with Taniya Singhal as the first woman firefighter from Kolkata. In a field dominated by males, it is certainly a challenge for women to register a presence. Changing the rules to not discriminate based on gender just goes to prove that anyone can be a firefighter.
Mountaineering requires climbing sky-touching mountains, facing extreme climatic conditions, and pushing your limits. Girls have historically not been encouraged, unlike boys, to become mountaineers. Fortunately, strong-willed and passionate women have paved the way for aspiring female mountain-climbers to make a name for themselves. For instance, Santosh Yadav from India was the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest twice. Junko Taibei from Japan is the first woman to climb seven summits. Many inspiring women have made a mark in the world of mountaineering and are breaking gender stereotypes, and they continue to inspire young girls to pursue their dreams of becoming a mountaineer. Who knows, as more folks follow the lead they may set the benchmark even higher than the men before them!
As soon as someone calls a nurse, most assume that a woman dressed in a white or blue uniform would show up. What would your reaction be if a male walks in? We hope it’s not that of disappointment or disbelief, because that is worth an eye-roll. It is an age-old notion that caregiving is an innate feminine characteristic. What about males? Where do they fit into this scene? Fortunately, nowadays the scenario is changing and many males are getting into nursing. Although their prevalence is still lower than female nurses in India, many men are now exploring this medical career without paying heed to outdated gender stereotypes on education and career. If you want to make a meaningful career in the healthcare and medical sector, nursing is an amazing option for anyone.
We are yet to witness a shift to more widespread gender diversity in aviation, but the field is rapidly changing. Becoming a pilot is among the top preferred careers in terms of doing away with gender stereotypes. Female pilots soaring at high altitudes break a deep-seated stereotype that only males are reliable drivers. It might surprise you to know that there are twice as many women pilots in India in comparison to many other countries.* This reflects a high inclination among females to pursue careers in aviation. Female pilots are changing societal perceptions for the better and contributing to lowering restrictions on females to be confined to limited career opportunities. If you wish to be a pilot, the time is right for your dreams to take flight.
Follow your passion, not the stereotype
It is better to lead your life unabashedly than to try and fit your personality into a box of predefined gender roles that don’t fit. Listen to your heart’s calling and don’t be afraid of pursuing a career that may look unconventional because people of your gender have not been willing to explore it before. Your choices matter and can contribute to bringing progressive changes in society. When you outgrow the burden of other people’s opinions about your life, you bloom. If you have trouble figuring out how to go about pursuing a career of your liking, seek advice from the education counsellors of LaunchMyCareer. Our experienced career advisors offer expert assistance in translating your skills and talents into a plan to build a successful career in a field of your choice.
Source*Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. Tweet. Published March 7, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2022.