International Women’s Day 2022: A look at careers that break gender bias
New Delhi: If you’ve ever gone to play with a child, chances are you’ve asked them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
To a small child the world is their oyster. They want to be cricketer or astronaut, actor or maybe spiderman. While sooner or later we realize that we can’t be Spiderman, we also consciously-subconsciously accept that we can’t or shouldn’t take up certain professions because they don’t align with our gender.
As this International Women’s Day focuses on the theme of #breakthebias, let’s take a look at some of the careers in which people are breaking the traditional roots of gender stereotypes associated with those professions.
When we think of a firefighter, we think of a man. The same is the case with other gender-conservative jobs. Firefighting is often thought of as a one-man job, especially because of the life-threatening risks associated with the job. However, many women are stepping into this “man’s job” and proving that they too have the ability and skills to pursue and achieve this job.
India’s first woman firefighter Harshini Kanhekar is an inspiration to many. She applied for fire engineering course in 2002 and became the first woman to get admission in National Fire Service College, Nagpur at the age of 26.
Another notable and inspiring woman in this field is Taniya Sanyal, the first woman firefighter to be appointed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). As of 2018, the AAI only recruited men as its firefighters, but after the rules were relaxed, Sanyal emerged as the strongest female candidate to enter the male-dominated field.
Nursing as a female occupation remains conservative as the role of a nurse is that of a caregiver. This misunderstood representation gives off the idea that men can care, too. Men who choose nursing as a career face challenges as these traditional female jobs are considered by the society as a step down in their status.
It is worth noting that nurses are commonly referred to with female job titles such as sister and matron, without any popular terms for men in the profession.
The taboo surrounding men taking up the profession of nursing is also portrayed from a humorous angle through the character of Abhishek Bachchan in the film ‘Dostana’ (2008). Although the film did not emphasize this, representation through art plays a large part in the normalization and acceptance of path-breaking choices in our society.
3. Bus Driver
The bus industry in India is predominantly dominated by men as it is mostly believed that women cannot drive buses as they are heavy and difficult to handle. However, slowly and steadily, more and more women are taking over the steering. It was in 2015 that the Delhi Transport Corporation hired its first woman bus driver, Venkadrath Sarita.
Recently, in February 2022, the Delhi government has relaxed the experience criteria for the recruitment of women bus drivers in the city. Women who are applying for driving positions no longer need any prior experience.
4. Preschool and Kindergarten Teacher
While the teaching profession is predominantly female, this is especially true for preschool and kindergarten teachers. In most cases, the male teachers are usually PT instructors, music or math teachers.
Many schools also have a strict ‘no male kindergarten teacher policy’. When young children see men singing nursery rhymes, reading stories or drawing pictures, they learn that teaching is a gender-neutral profession. The lack of male teachers for young children also increases the chances of them missing out to look up to male role models. ,
5. Wedding Priests and Qazis
While female priests are still a rare sight at weddings, an increasing number of couples are opting for female priests. Female priests also often filter and modify the hymns in such a way that they do not make the bride sound like an object.
In February 2021, actor Dia Mirza made headlines for choosing a female priest, Sheela Atta, to conduct the marriage ceremony with businessman Vaibhav Rekhi. The actor tweeted, shouting to his priest, “Thank you, Sheela Atta, for organizing our wedding ceremony. So proud that we can #RiseUp together. #GenerationEquality.”
Similarly, there is nothing in Islam that prevents a woman from marrying. But the practice is unusual. Nevertheless, there are couples who have opted to have their marriage conducted by a female Qazi.
6. Stay at Home Parents
Leaving a full-time job to stay home and take care of the kids is probably one of the biggest career moves for any parent, especially a father. While most women are socially fed by the expectation of giving up their careers after becoming mothers, the same is rarely inherent to the bread-earning father.
Housewife, a term for a married woman living in a home, is extremely common in Indian vocabulary. On the other hand, one would need to think about what title to refer to a person who, of his own choice, stays at home.
Unfortunately, men who decide to stay at home are shamed by society into quitting their jobs to take care of their child while his wife wants to go to his office.
Bollywood films such as ‘Ki & Ka’ and ‘Chachi 420’ have attempted to portray the protagonist as a man who does not want to follow traditional masculinity, be it by staying at home and doing household chores. To be cared for as seen before or in its entirety. Taking care of your child as seen later.
It is worth noting that when women challenge gender stereotypes, they are often stigmatized as having to do something challenging, whereas when men move into feminine-dominated jobs, they are mostly judged by their skills or It is seen as diminishing masculinity.
Societal norms surrounding gender bias may be modified as more and more people choose careers dominated by the opposite sex. This will help create a more inclusive and gender-neutral society.