Will The Mancession Harm "Macho" Career Women?


Especially since the recession hit, the media’s been referring to trades like construction as “traditionally male fields.” So what happens when you’re the woman on the job site?

In the past couple of years, the narrative of the he-cession has run thus: sectors like manufacturing and construction are losing jobs, screwing over a lot of working-class men who may not have college educations. Even Levi Johnston fits into this trend — writes Jessica Grose, “Like many working-class men, Levi lost his macho job during the recession.” But to women like Sharon Darling, a male-dominated job isn’t necessarily “macho.”

Interviewed in the Times, Darling decided to become an electrician “because I loved the math theory that you have to use: math, physics, science, everything. This is the best trade as far as using your brain goes.” Of working on all-male construction sites, she says, “The first day was scary. Everybody is looking at you because you’re the only girl.” And while she’s gotten more comfortable, she still deals with prejudice:

When you’re on a big job, you’ve got carpenters and roofers and plumbers. There can be a thousand men. And you know the stereotypes men have: They think I should be home having babies, or doing hair or nails, girly stuff.

Now that construction and other male-dominated fields are struggling, it’s possible that women like Darling will have an even harder time. Those who see the recession as taking jobs away from men may be even more hostile to women trying to enter their trade. This is a potential unintended consequence of “mancession” rhetoric — it devalues the experiences of women in what are seen as “macho” fields. This is just another reason we should remember that the recession affects everyone — and that you don’t have to be a dude to put on a hard hat.

Image via

Where Few Women Go: A Building Site [NYT]
Levi Johnston And The Problems Of The Working-Class Man [Slate]

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