Gender Roles

I did something the other day that I swore I would never do again.

About fifteen years ago, while working at an optical company, I was helping a couple purchase glasses. For some reason, the wife’s place of work came up and she told me she worked at a dentists office.

“Are you a dental hygienist?” I asked.

“No,” she responded, but she gave me nothing more.

As the transaction completed, the husband informed me that I was gender biased.

“What do you mean?” I inquired.

“She’s the dentist, not the hygienist,” he informed me.  “Your guess indicates that you probably believe there are gender roles in the work place.”

Friendly young multi ethnic personnel group graduated dentist and assistant Caucasian blond and African-American are smiling at dental office
Photo Credit: lawrencestansberryneworleans via Compfight cc

He was wrong. What is true is that there are jobs that have been traditionally filled by women and others by men, and that was the trap I fell into. That being said, I made it a point of not making that ‘mistake’ again.

Fast forward to the present. A customer proceeds to tell me how she uses her glasses and she mentions she works at the hospital, looking at charts, and the computer. So what do I say?

“Are you a nurse?”

“No,” she says. “I’m a doctor.”

My mind went back to 15 years earlier when I had made the same mistake and I was annoyed with myself. Blew it again after all these years.

Or did I? Has much changed after 15 years?

Look at these tables from Stats Canada-2011 national Household Survey.

Top 10 Most Male-Dominated Canadian Occupations
Occupation Total Employees Women’s Share of Total Employees
Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics 42,985 1.1%
Bricklayers 18,775 1.4%
Automotive Service Technicians, Truck and Bus Mechanics, and Mechanical Repairers 137,535 1.6%
Steamfitters, Pipefitters, and Sprinkler System Installers 20,305 1.6%
Electrical Power Line and Cable Workers 11,365 1.7%
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics 23,940 1.7%
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Gas Fitters 74,030 1.7%
Automotive Service Technicians 166,100 1.8%
Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) 86,080 1.9%


Top 10 Female-Dominated Canadian Occupations
Occupation Total Employees Women’s Share of Total Employees
Dental Assistants 29,785 98.2%
Medical Administrative Assistants 14,965 98.2%
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists 23,325 97.0%
Early Childhood Educators and Assistants 187,750 96.8%
Office Administrative Assistants–General, Legal and Medical 381,275 96.3%
Home Child Care Providers 62,610 95.5%
Court Reporters, Medical Transcriptionists, and Related Occupations 9,075 94.8%
Receptionists 155,355 94.0%
Dietitians and Nutritionists 9,960 93.7%
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists 9,020 93.7%




Other stats cite nursing 8% male, 92% female- doctor-60%male, 40% female-dentistry 70% male, 30% female.

Equal gender representation is certainly closer now than it was 15 years ago in some professions. In others, not so much. And that’s okay. Men and women are different and that, in general, includes being best suited for particular jobs.  That’s all I’m saying on that.

I will be better in asking women if they are doctors, engineers, architects, dentists, cops etc. I think they’ve earned it.

By the way, I’m not ready to do that for men yet. I will not ask a man if he is a nurse, or a secretary. If that makes me a Neanderthal, so be it. 19115112282_855e444c4c_bPhoto Credit: richlandgroup via Compfight cc

Maybe I am gender biased.



4 thoughts on “Gender Roles

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot lately too about gender biases. There’s always articles and stuff on Facebook. Women have definitely earned their rightful place in society and have had to work hard to do so, whether we’re exactly where we should be yet or not. I just find it goes overboard when equality turns into symmetry (idk if that’s the word I’m looking for…). Women have become so into being the same as men that they’ve forgotten it’s what makes us different that makes us special and better suited for certain things. They don’t want to be unique anymore. And that’s sad.

    1. “Women have become so into being the same as men that they’ve forgotten it’s what makes us different that makes us special and better suited for certain things.”
      Agreed T.

  2. Bra… I definitely think like many of us you do have unconscious bias… and now perhaps not so unconscious… It is now mandatory in a lot of corporations for employees to take unconscious bias training largely because this kind of thinking impacts so many areas for example in assigning projects sometimes male bosses will assume that a single woman may be better suited for a project because she is not a mother. In this case the boss male or female makes assumptions about the capacity of a person based on whether they are a parent or not. The bias extends beyond gender roles… for example assuming and engineer with foreign accent is less competent than one who speaks with an american accent. When they analyzed the salaries of men vs women in exactly the same roles …well you know the drill… there is even a job site called that masks the names of candidates to help hiring managers avoid the bias that people have around names they cannot pronounce and the assumptions they make about associated competence. They have even done studies where they have shown that in a meeting with both men and women in the room contributing ideas… the woman can articulate an idea and it will be dismissed or ignored and then a man will pop off with the exact same idea and it will be heralded as some novel idea… happens all the time…which is why smart men know to have a smart woman they can draft off of. There is even a job interviewing platform that masks your voice during phone interviews to eliminate unconscious bias because people have a bias against not only accents but even pitch…people will associate competence with the high or low pitch of voice check it out here ….I found the training to be very enlightening because I realized I have some biases of my own which may prevent me from hiring excellent people … for example being more inclined to click with extroverts vs. introverts is unconscious bias… we miss out on great candidates because we associate an outgoing person with competence and leadership sometimes which is complete hogwash because there are plenty of introverts who are excellent employees… anyway so back to the gender roles… don’t be too hard on yourself…we human beings are so highly flawed with our ridiculous assumptions about roles… like all my favorite cooks are male and so I definitely expect all my dates to do the cooking 🙂

    1. Great info, Sis. I have not heard of unconscious bias training but I’m not surprised it has become mandatory in many companies. The accent bias is another one I’m conscious of, thinking someone with an English accent is smarter than someone with a Spanish accent. Terrible.

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