Pink Collar jobs are ones in which women are predominately employed, or at least have been traditionally in the past. The term came into being around WWII when women entered the work force en masse, and it was later popularized by Louise Kappe Howe's 1977 book, "The Pink Collar" which explored the pay inequity and lack of diversity in female employment. Women were "stuck" in familiar fields...nursing, teaching, secretarial, and waitressing.
We started Blue Collar Homeschool to focus attention on trade and tech opportunities for young high school graduates. We wanted to highlight what is often a neglected arena for career consideration. Recently, in our Blue Collar Homeschool Facebook Group it was brought up that many of the jobs and training for "blue collar" focus largely on jobs that are traditionally male dominated. While young women certainly can enter those fields, they do so in fairly small numbers.
So what about Pink Collar careers? Interestingly, men are turning to them far more than women are turning toward Blue Collar employment. According to an article in Time Magazine in May 2012, in the years 2000 - 2010 nearly one third of the job growth for men was in what has been traditionally female careers...areas like nursing and teaching saw a large uptick without a correspondingly equal uptick for women in Blue Collar careers. What does this mean?
Maybe we need to help girls envision themselves as competent to work in more male oriented fields. Maybe we need to stop defining jobs as male or female in general and, as the Time article suggests, ditch the Pink Collar term altogether. Maybe we need to begin to value so called Pink Collar jobs more and offer better pay and benefits.
The point is, Blue Collar thinking doesn't limit itself to a particular gender, it is a mindset...one that values service work, retail work, nursing, trades, IT, and much more! Blue Collar thinking values White Collar work, Pink Collar work, and honors all work performed with integrity.
Let's take a look at what Wikipedia lists as a Pink Collar job, here is a list from their web site:
Babysitter / Day care worker / Nanny / Child-care provider / Caregiver
Car attendant / Washroom attendant
Hotel housekeeper / Chambermaid
Food preparation workers / counter attendants / cafeteria attendants
Personal Care Attendant
Hospital attendant / Hospital service worker / Nurse's aide
Meter Maid / Parking lot attendant
Hairstylist / Barber
Receptionist / Secretary / Administrative Assistant / Information clerk
Dental assistant / Medical assistant / Pharmacy assistant
Dressmaker / Costume designer / Tailor
Cosmetologist / Make-up artist / Nail technician / Perfumer
Flight attendant / stewardess
Camp counselor / Non-profit volunteer coordinator
Maid / Domestic worker / Governess
Museum docents / Tour guide
Nurse / Registered nurse
Nutritionist / Dietitian
Personal stylist / Fashion stylist
Preschool teacher / Early childhood educator
Relationship counselor / Family therapist / Social worker
Waitress / Barista / Bartender
Wedding planner / Event planner
In looking at this list of supposedly "women's" jobs, it is easy to see why many women can not earn a living wage in careers like these. While most of them indeed do not require a college education (though some require trade training/school or licensing), they don't have even higher wage potential...unless...
...you own the business. Maybe one solution if your daughter (or son!) is interested in a Pink Collar career is to make sure we teach our kids about entrepreneurship. Many of these careers can be quite profitable if you are the business owner and not the employee! But it means being intentional around training in areas such as accounting, management, and marketing as well as learning the skills for the specific career mentioned above.
So called Pink Collar careers ought to be given the respect they deserve, and that respect starts with us!