So today’s post will be a little bit different. This semester I took two classes for my Master’s Degree and they brought up something that I had never really thought of before, Being a woman in Man’s profession. The first class Historiography only did so in a round about way while my other class, U.S. Women’s History hit it right on the head at times. Mainly, because it’s a feminism class.
I had never really thought of my job as being a man’s job, it was just something that I did. Though I do often get the “you work where?” question when I tell people where I work. Which if I haven’t mentioned it, I work at a Mom and Pop Auto parts place, which is an independently owned Car Quest store, in my hometown. When I count back I’ve been working in the auto parts business since 2006 when I started working at an Auto Zone in Mississippi just after Hurricane Katrina. I wasn’t really hired for my automotive knowledge but for my language skills. Which is Spanish, because of the rebuilding that was going on at the time Spanish speakers were in high demand. Eventually though I began doing inventory prep, and working on the store planograms (where they put things on shelves) and before I knew it I had been there for over two years. So I’ve been in this type of a business for 10 years… almost 11, and yet I still get the same look of incredulousness when I talk about work.
When I moved back home I simply transferred from the store I was working in to the store that was near my home (this was still 30 minutes away) and continued working there. Throughout all of this I never really payed attention to the comments that were made. Mainly because they never really phased me. I’m pretty sure you can guess the comments right. “Is there a man I can talk to?” “You can change a battery!” “Is there anyone else we can talk to? I need to look up a part for my vehicle.” The comments pretty much dismissed me from helping them, all because they assumed that because I was a woman that I didn’t know what to do. I’m pretty luck in the coworkers that I had, for the most part they would simply tell them that as they were helping someone else they would either have to wait (which they would sometimes make them wait upwards of 30 minutes) or have me help them.
Right now I have two jobs while I go to school, one of which is working at the parts store. Even now I still get these same comments, even though I’ve been here for well over a year and the regular customers are used to seeing me. It’s more the new ones who are just driving through town, or those that are working in the pipeline that are just passing through. My second job is selling perfume and colognes, as you can imagine I never get those kinds of comments. I’m pretty sure that this is because this is the type of job that most expect of women, a typical retail job. This however, has it’s own pitfalls. You have men thinking just because you are required to dress up for your job, that it means it’s ok to grab you and make suggestive comments to you. Or having a completely different dress code than men do. The double standards out there are a bit ridiculous, but everyone accepts it as normal.
Now however, I’m in school and yet again I find myself working to go into a field that is typically held by men. Now a days when you think of the education field most will tell you that teachers are usually women. Even when my friend Jaxine and I had this discussion in class one night she revealed that she had never had a teach who wasn’t a woman. My experience was almost the same, with the exception of my 4th and 6th grade teacher and in high school. I had never really thought of it until our class discussion. This discussion came about because of a description that I had used for one of my discussion questions. The professor actually stopped class to ask why I had described the archive as a male. I was floored. It had never really occurred to me that I actually gender my words and conversations, that it is something that is so ingrained in us that we do so unconsciously. The field of History is still a field that is mainly dominated by men. Even though when I look around the classroom and see more women than men, it is still relegated to a man’s profession.
I’m not sure about how you were raised, but I was raised by a single mother who worked in a man’s profession. She was a construction worker, or she worked in refineries with her dad. She was never one to stop and think oh, I can’t do that it’s a man’s job. Her dad, my grandfather, was never one to tell her or me and my sisters that we couldn’t do something because we were girls. I remember the summer after my 6th grade year coming home to piles of dirt in the front yard and some shovels. We were told that we would be helping my mom and grandpa rebuild the front half of his house. We were never excluded because we were girls, one of the biggest things that I ever heard was a conversation between my grandfather and one of his friends. His friend had told him that it must have been hard only having girls to raise, that he had no boys to help him around the house with things he needed done. My grandpa however, told him that God had blessed him with a daughter, and then two granddaughters who helped him with whatever he need help with. While his friend himself had 3 sons who were never around when there was work to be done. He asked him in the end who exactly it was that was the worse off. Having sons that never helped or daughters that did what needed to be done. That alone told me that while my grandfather was born in 1939 in an age where men were the end all and be all of decision making had in himself a bit of equality for the genders in him. For him and my grandmother there was equality in their marrigage, they discussed the decisions that needed to be done. Not something that was common in those days, but if there was one thing that he had and still always tells me is that I can do anything that I want to do all I had to do was want it bad enough.
Well that’s it for today. Hopefully, I’ve given you something to think about. Leave comments down below on what you think of “Women working in a man’s profession.” statement. Is this something that you struggle with yourself?
Until Next Time!