Missing out

Women still lag behind men in many nontraditional occupations — those in which women make up 25 percent or less of the total work force, according to the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor.

While women make up 98.6 percent of secretaries, 92.9 percent of registered nurses, 90.8 percent of hairdressers and 83.8 percent of elementary school teachers, they make up only 1.4 percent of automobile mechanics, 5.7 percent of welders, 13.2 percent of telephone installers and repairers and 15.7 percent of architects.

Reasons women might want to consider nontraditional occupations include:

  • Better pay — Nontraditional occupations tend to offer higher wages than many occupations in which women are in the majority.
  • Better benefits — Jobs in nontraditional fields frequently offer better benefits than traditionally female jobs.
  • Greater autonomy — Many jobs in nontraditional occupations involve less direct supervision than traditionally female occupations.

According to the Department of Labor’s publication, “Hot Jobs for the 21st Century,” engineers, architects, police and detectives, electrical and electronic technicians and technologists are examples of nontraditional occupations expected to exhibit fast growth and/or create a large number of jobs.

In addition, all have 1999 median earnings higher than the average for all full-time wage and salary workers. Source: 1999 Department of Labor Statistics, www.dol.gov/dol/wb/