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Gender in the workplace

2009 February 15
by Aline

I enjoyed reading Kalyn Schofield’s post about the transexual women’s website. I know she talked about successed from that cannot be measured, but I would like to discuss the ones that can. I am curious about how societal the female persona is, when applied to certain careers. After having listened to both Alex and Ryan’s stories, I wonder about careers as a trasexual. I mean if a man with a “successful” career becomes a woman, will it be harder for him/her in the workplace? Not just as a transexual, but from a different gendered point of view. I wonder how much of the oppression for women in the workplace is historical.  The situation could also be vice versa if a woman passed for a man, he would enter a differeent societal circle. I wonder how it would affect his career.  For example “Lynn’s Story” talks about how she began life as a boy and transitioned to a girl. She is an inventor, electrical engineer, and computer scientist. I just wonder if she would have gone into the same fields if she had been raised a girl.  It seems to me that our female history perhaps, has a lot to do with the carreers and fields we choose. I guess I am just curious about the extent to which children are raised and how it affects their gender and thus, their carreer choices.

3 Responses
  1. Mista Jay permalink
    February 15, 2009

    I think if a man was to be successful in the work place, and then transition to a women, then it would be difficult. I think some people might not be able to translate the success over from when she was a man, to after she became a woman. In another case, I think that maybe some people would be so careful about saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong pronoun, that it would get in the way of connecting to the individual because they are too busy trying to handle them with care. Or possibly they would be trying too hard to “re-connect” with the individual when there was to be no loss of connection in the first place, if that makes sense.
    As for a woman passing as a man, I remember reading once about a woman who I believe was a blues singer? I could be wrong, but I know for a fact that she took on a male name and dressed accordingly, and had female partners and that most people (except for her partners, I believe) did not realize she was a woman until the day she died. I don’t remember exactly who this person is, but I’m going to try and find the website once again. I remember finding that story really fascinating, yet I believed part of the reason why she took on a male appearance was to have a better chance at success in the music industry and part of me was frustrated by the fact that the disguise WORKED. I remember thinking whether it ever bothered this woman that though her vocal talent must have been very good, that it was the fact that she had talent and was MALE that made her successful? Could anyone be truly happy with living behind an illusion in order to gain success?
    Also, in terms of how children are raised and the impact of that purging on their career choices, I remember that when I was younger, my dad really loved (he still does to this day) math and science, while my mom was more of an English and history person. My dad was always encouraging me to peruse the math and science route, and my Mom was always encouraging me to read (which I did happily). Now, that I’m older do I like science, but I really dislike math and I do like English, but I really dislike history. However, there were times where I WANTED to like math, and I WANTED to be good at math, because I was aware of this stereotype that girls couldn’t do math and that bothered me like crazy, because I fit it so perfectly. To this day, I think I still deal with this personal frustration at my lack of math skills, but at the same time since I was raised to like all sorts of subjects, I don’t think my parents raised me to like a particular subject just because I was a female. Whether I picked up on my love of English and less-math-intensive sciences because I am female….I am not quite sure. However, if I DID, I believe it was influences outside of my home that lead me down those paths.

  2. Marwa permalink
    February 15, 2009

    That’s a really interesting question, whether the character in Lynn’s story would have made the same career choices. Well, I think the way children are raised can affect their genders as well as their career choices greatly, although they don’t necessarily fit the typical “Boys do science and girls do humanities” idea. I was raised as a girl (and I do consider myself female) and at the same time, I was always encouraged to go into the sciences. My mom is a Math person and my Dad is very science-y. I ended up being a Computer Science major, a field with fewer and fewer females nowadays. Very often I get raised eyebrows and “you totally don’t look like it” reaction when I tell people what my major is. I wonder if I would have gotten the same reaction had I been a boy – I wish I could find out.

  3. Aline permalink
    February 15, 2009

    That is fascinating about the woman who disguised herself as a man and furthered her/his career. My friend recommended the book “Self-made Man: One Woman’s journey into Manhood and back.” Here is a link to view a sample of it:

    Also, I wanted to clarify that when I was talking about children being raised in my blog, I didn’t mean by only our parents. The outside world, our schools, along with our families have influences on our gender development.

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