Monday, September 12, 2011

Just a Thought on Men and Women

For my class assignment, one of the discussion questions was related to the difference in pay that men and women still receive for doing the same job. I can't remember exactly how it was phrased.

When I am out in the workplace, I am generally in fields that there really aren't many men. My work is generally either in field interviewing, which requires me to go to people's houses and administer the questionaires for social science research; or in social work. My most recent position was as a QMRP (Qualified Mental Retardation Professional) and co-manager of a group home for the developmentally disabled. Out of 30 of us in group home management, there were 4 guys. These guys manage the homes with the most challenging clients.

Both fields that I spend my time in have repercussions for men. They can be accused of things. They often are not wanted. In field interviewing, many people will let a woman into their home who would be very hesitant to let in a man. In group homes, many guardians express discomfort with men caring for the personal needs of female clients. Many men don't want to be put in that position because they don't want to get accused of something, either.

When I look at the way I parent my kids as opposed to the way my husband does, I am WITH my kids, whereas my husband DOES things with them, far more often. He's the one that takes them hiking, plays video games with them, teaches them physical skills, coaches their teams...I'm not saying that women can't do things like that, but this dynamic is more common. It's also not true that my husband can't nurture my kids or just be with them, but I fill that role more readily.

In the same way, men in direct care are an asset because they are usually itching to get out and do things with the clients. When we have a house full of female staff, they focus on "I have to get the food made, the meds done, chores done, the showers done, and get everyone ready for bed." Come to think of it, that's pretty much how I think of my days at home with my kids, too - its often a list of one thing after another. The guys...they speed through those things, because they want to go out and DO something with the clients, and that is an incredible asset that is being missed out on because there are fewer guys in this field, and while most would consider it sexist -- I can completely understand paying them more in order to keep them on staff. Same with the men who are field interviewing because they can take the few men who don't feel comfortable being asked personal questions by women, and they have to put up with a lot of refusals.

But also, these careers used to be male-dominated. You almost never heard of women taking care of the mentally disabled. Door to door anything used to be entirely male. Now, take a look at the numbers of women getting college educations as opposed to men. In another fifteen years, the issue of pay equality will be a non-issue because there are going to be so few male professionals at all.

I had a pastor tell me one time that the reason why he had male acolytes and male ushers is because it the females started doing it, it would be all females doing it, because the guys wouldn't do it anymore. I do see that in many places in the church. Male Sunday School teachers are few and far between anymore, male school teachers are more rare as well. There are fewer male elders serving where female elders are allowed to serve, where women are allowed to be readers, etc. (and there are theological problems with women filling these roles as well). Once you have a church where men do not have specified place, you often have a female dominated church in almost all areas of service.

I have no clue where I am going with this...its just a few thoughts that I've been entertaining, so do with them what you will.


Sage said...

I did mental health interpreting for a while and in the state hospital, I was very happy a male orderly spotted a guy on his way to do something (not good) to me when I was with my client in his room. I'd never thought of the dominance of males over females in the situations you describe, but it does hold true. Even in the kids psychiatric hospitals there were men who could put the kids in restraints when needed, but the majority of service providers were women.

No point in all this either except it is something to think about. I agree about surveying and women being more likely to gain a response than a man at the door. We don't generally appear threatening.

My guess is that our society has passed a threshold of sorts with matriarchy beginning to dominate. To give you a perspective, in the African-American culture our society emasculated the men which led to the women taking over family systems and the whole thing began unraveling. I'd bet we begin seeing the same dynamic happen in the white families with the loss of gender identity of "parents" being man/woman. Just a hunch.

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