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Women have long dominated certain professional fields like teaching, nursing, administration, and clerking. Women represent between 84 and 98 percent of these occupations, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But there are still many male-dominated industries out there, many of which are related to the STEM fields or manual labor, and roles are often much more lucrative than traditionally women-dominated positions. This phenomenon is called occupational sorting, and it’s a contributor to the gender pay gap.
According to Catalyst, male-dominated occupations are those that have 25 percent or fewer women. Here are 13 industries that are still dominated by men and how we can start attracting more women to these fields.
13 male-dominated industries that are good for women's careers
The financial services industry is infamous for being ruled by men, and especially leadership roles in finance. One Deloitte study found that only 6 out of 107 of the U.S.’s largest public financial institutions were led by women CEOs in 2019.
These roles are extremely lucrative, with financial managers making a median of $127,990 annually. Investment bankers have an average salary range of up to $183,000, and tax directors can make up to $210,000. Not only are these roles high-paying, but they bring high levels of professional respect and stature that women no doubt want to get in on.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Finance Companies to Work For
2. IT and software development
Tech is another area that attracts mostly men. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that women make up only 7.9 percent of computer network architects, for instance, and 19 percent of software developers are women. Median pay for the latter is over $100k per year, so these are appealing positions that often lead to stable, successful careers. While there are many factors that keep women out of these roles, a couple of ongoing challenges of note include bro culture and gender discrimination and microaggressions experienced by those who make it in. These conditions can quickly lead to burnout and lots of stress and may prevent women from entering a tech field in the first place.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Technology Companies to Work For
Plumbers get a bad rap for doing a dirty job, but they bring in a pretty good salary—to the tune of an average $73,380 according to one estimate. And, an expensive or lengthy education isn’t necessary for many plumbers. There is also decent job security, and the role can be pretty rewarding since it involves helping people.
Read more: What Is Considered a Good Salary?
Women make up just 8.4 percent of total pilots according to Women in Aviation International, and just 7 percent of commercial pilots. These jobs are highly sought-after since piloting involves plenty of travel opportunities, travel discounts, flexible scheduling, and a great salary, easily making six figures depending on location.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 19 Best Airlines/Aviation Companies to Work For
Construction laborers include just 3.3 percent women and construction managers a bit higher at 8.1 percent, according to the Census Bureau. Construction jobs have been traditionally viewed as “men’s work” since they’re physically demanding with a more masculine image, so it can be a challenge for women to break in or to see examples of women role models in this industry. But on-the-job training and opportunity for high pay make the untapped potential of this industry an intriguing one for women.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Construction Companies to Work For
Fewer than a third of manufacturing workers are women, according to Deloitte. Working in this industry brings benefits like understanding the latest innovations, enjoying a fruitful career, and being involved in complex processes that drive the economy. Salaries can start fairly low, but there is a lot of room for growth, especially as manufacturers incorporate new technologies like robotics and automation.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Manufacturing Companies to Work For
7. Mechanical engineering
Census Bureau reports show that women make up just over 8 percent of mechanical engineers. These roles can bring in a median salary of $90,000 annually but often well into six figures. This type of engineer takes on interesting tasks like designing power sources, sensors, and systems that help organizations and infrastructures keep running, and they are thus crucial to societal innovation.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 15 Best Mechanical or Industrial Engineering Companies to Work For
One of the most male-dominated occupations out there is the electrician, with just 1.8 percent of workers being women. This is another highly technical field that also brings in a good salary, job security, rewarding work, and a flexible schedule.
Zippia data found that just 22.6 percent of architects in the U.S. are women, and the highest average annual wage is found in Boston at $96,939. These are highly creative positions that allow for lots of career growth, and they are well-respected roles. It can be challenging for women to break into the industry, however, since male architects have long been lauded for pivotal architectural styles and projects.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 4 Best Architecture & Planning Companies to Work For
Another substantial male-dominated field is automotive, specifically mechanic work. Women represent just 2 percent of these roles according to the Census Bureau. Thus, there are very few role models for young women who want to join the field, even though it can be a rewarding, consistent job with decent pay.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Automotive Companies to Work For
Firefighters have traditionally been men, as these roles have a reputation of being dangerous and requiring significant strength and endurance, qualities our sexist forebears didn’t think women possessed. But, one study showed that women can have the same or even better work performance as firefighters than their male counterparts.
Read more: Why More Women Should Work Blue-Collar Jobs
12. Truck driving
Driving a truck for a living can be a lucrative, rewarding career, but many women may avoid these positions because of the long hours they’re alone or working at night, which could make them more vulnerable to harassment or predation, as a representative from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research told CNN Business. Census Bureau data shows that women make up just 5.5 percent of professional drivers and truck drivers.
Explore top women-rated companies for this industry: The 20 Best Transportation Companies to Work For
Gardening has traditionally been associated with women, as it can be lumped in with traditional housework that women take on. In 2020, however, just 6.5 percent of landscaping and groundskeeping workers were women in the U.S. So there is still a big gap in these professional roles, which can be lucrative and satisfying careers. One reason could be that there are still fewer women business owners, but that number is growing, and women now own 42 percent of all U.S. companies.
How to boost representation in male-dominated fields
While each of these industries has its own set of challenges facing women and keeping them from gaining significant traction, there are a few common reasons why these numbers remain low. Here are a few ways that we can better support and encourage women to take on these careers and even the playing field:
Establishing more organizations for women in each industry (like Women in Manufacturing, Girls in Tech, Women Who Code, etc.)
Highlighting more women role models in these fields for young women who are interested
Providing more educational opportunities, including scholarships, awards, and general encouragement from high school and college counselors
Offering more promotions and raises for women in these fields
Addressing the ongoing harassment and discrimination realities that hold women back from entering these industries or excelling in them
Breaking down stereotypes: e.g., questioning and combating the stereotypes that women take on caretaker or housekeeper roles and that men take on more demanding physical labor jobs
Providing more resources for women already working in these fields who may be experiencing a lot of stress
Offering mentorships and mentoring programs so that women can support women and boys’ clubs become a thing of the past
Read more: What Is Marginalization at Work?