My husband said something to me today that made me think about the concepts of 'men's work' and 'women's work'. I'd gone for an interview for an office manager position, and mentioned that the person leaving the job was quitting so he could attend med school. "You don't see many male office managers," commented my husband, "and when I've been out of work I've thought my gender would be a disadvantage when applying for office admin positions."
This is related, in my mind, to the ways in which devalued work (organising, administrating, cleaning) is seen as 'women's work'. Obviously this is more harmful to women, because it has trapped them in roles of drudgery, but it also hurts men who enjoy that work because they're put under social pressure to be 'more manly'. I think that a lot of employers will without a doubt hire someone that fits their preconception of an office manager - a woman - over someone who doesn't.
The solution, in my mind, is to elevate the value of that work, as well as elevating the value of women. By no means do I want to see a situation where that work is elevated and now only men are fit to do it (as it was in the past when a 'secretary' or 'clerk' was a male position), nor do I want to see men devalued and fit only to do what's seen as useless work. It would be best if we recognise the need for that work, along with housekeeping and childrearing and that society would be worse off without it. The problem now is that men who do 'women's work' are seen as effeminate, and rather than improving the standing of the work in the eyes of those who judge, the men who do it are seen as being lowered to the level of women.
Have any of you had experience of (being or seeing) men doing women's work? What reactions did that produce?
Finally, how can I pursuade my husband to learn to knit? I want to share my hobby! (Joking. Mostly.)