Reverse Glass Ceiling

Menstuff® includes here some information on the Reverse Glass Ceiling.

Does the "Reverse Glass Ceiling" Exist?


We've all heard about the trials and tribulations of women rising through the ranks of male-dominated fields such as technology and finance. The successful ones are celebrated for having "broken through the glass ceiling," meaning they've maneuvered through gender-based workplace limitations.

In fact, the idea of the glass ceiling is such a phenomenon that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) formed a "Glass Ceiling" commission in 1991. But what about the men who succeed in what tend to be female-dominated careers, including nursing, travel, marketing, and childcare? Is there such a thing as a reverse glass ceiling for men?

Licensed psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser--who has offered her professional opinion for both MSNBC and CNN--says she sees more men popping up in female-dominated careers. "I don't know if it's a trend yet, because it's a more recent development, but it's definitely something that's happening and people are becoming more and more aware of it," she says.

It may seem like a strange concept to grasp, considering that men are rarely cast as being victims of discrimination. An examination of why women tend to gravitate toward certain fields more so than men is a good starting point for exploring whether a glass ceiling exists for men.

Psychologist Warren Farrell, Ph.D., the San Francisco-based author of such books as Why Men Earn More and The Liberated Man, has a specific take on the equation. "Women enter into those areas because they are the most fulfilling," he says. "Men don't because they feel they need to take on the responsibility of providing for the family, and the way they earn love is to earn money."

That's not to say careers in nursing, travel, marketing, and childcare can't be lucrative, but more often than not, they are far surpassed by salaries in male-dominated fields such as finance and technology.

Plus, in today's world of double incomes, men are free to pursue career paths they find interesting rather than ones they solely see as financially viable, Kaiser says. "In the past decade, more careers have opened up to women," she notes. "They're becoming lawyers and doctors and scientists, and leaving openings in other areas that men are now filling."

Men face a different set of challenges than women in choosing to pursue a career dominated by the opposite sex, since for men, passion for the work is often not as powerful a motivator as the bottom line: salary. What many men in traditionally female careers find, however, is that it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

A novelty in the nursing world

Take, for example, how pursuing a career in nursing allows Mark Liwoch the best way to provide for his family and feel satisfied in his job. Liwoch admittedly was a bit of a drifter after high school graduation, taking on odd jobs in restaurants, landscaping, and even a chicken farm.

He eventually found himself intrigued by a career in nursing because "it was a hot career that guaranteed a livable wage upon graduation once you passed the boards," he says. So he pursued a bachelor's degree in nursing from Stockton University in Pomona, New Jersey, and a master's degree in health administration from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Liwoch now feels he has found the job satisfaction he had been pursuing all those years working odd jobs. "Nursing is a very high-satisfaction job as far as knowing that you're doing good for others," he says, "and it also helps that you realize you're going to have job security and a good wage."

And while nursing staffs may mostly consist of women, that is starting to change, says Liwoch's colleague, Tom Keating, director of the emergency room at Shore Memorial Hospital in Atlantic County, New Jersey. "Some men probably at first felt embarrassed doing something that is considered a female-oriented job," Keating says. "But I think you're starting to see more guys get into it because they see the opportunities."

Statistics indicate Keating's instinct is right, though the progression of men into the field has been slow. Since 1983, the percentage of men employed as registered nurses has risen from just under 5 percent to over 8 percent in 2003, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Liwoch certainly did. He now has a high-level job as administrative director at Shore Memorial Hospital.

While Liwoch admits to being a novelty in the nursing world, he says his gender was never an issue as he rose through the ranks. "My organization is such that they promote education, so within three months of graduating with my bachelor's degree, I was approached by my nurse manager to become a clinical supervisor, which is a front-line manager role where you're still in scrubs," Liwoch says. "At that time, I became the sole provider for my children, so I knew the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday role would fit my lifestyle as a single dad."

More and more men would love to have a fulfilling career that also allows ample family time, says Farrell. "When I ask men in my workshops to fantasize about what they would do if they didn't have to worry about money, about 95 percent of them come up with things like spending more time with their children, and doing something in art, music, or literature," he says. "They would love to do something that involves interacting with people more so than formulas, machines, or technology."

Traveling the world

From the start, John Clifford knew he wanted to work with people rather than machines. Even so, he wasn't sure what his calling was, so at the age of 18, he took a career- and life-planning course at a local community college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "The one that kept landing at the top of the list was travel agent. It was puzzling, because I didn't have a real understanding of it, but I thought it would be a great way to make some money, see the world, and get out of Santa Fe," Clifford says.

He took a travel agent course in Albuquerque and graduated at the top of a class filled mostly with women. He worked at various agencies before striking out on his own, catering to upscale clients like Giorgio Armani Corporation and Fortune 500 executives. Clifford even landed on Condé Nast Traveler's "A-list of Agents," becoming the youngest man to get on the magazine's "A-list All Stars" in 2004--a list that, to this day, comprises mostly women.

"The agency I affiliated with is 90 percent women," Clifford says, "and sometimes I feel it's hard to get the recognition and respect I feel I deserve and have earned, just as women in the corporate world may feel it is hard to break into the old boy's club. I face that every day in the travel trade. Whether or not we like to say a 'women's club' exists, it does. It's just as hard for a man to break through that."

Part II: Another Side of Adversity

So-called women's clubs don't just exist in the travel industry. Stacy Kaiser has counseled plenty of men who have experienced resistance across the spectrum of female-dominated careers. "Men have said they felt that women can be uncomfortable having a man around in a female-dominated environment," she says. "Women may think … 'having a man around will change the dynamic.'"

Having a man or two at work in a room full of women does change dynamics, "but that doesn't mean it's bad change," Kaiser adds.

In fact, it's this adversity that makes John Clifford such a good travel agent. "As a man in the business, I learned to create my own PR and my own success," Clifford says. "If you reach the glass ceiling, you retool and rethink, and you keep going. I feel it has, oddly enough, enabled me to reach higher and become stronger, because without adversity, you become complacent."

That mindset certainly contributed to Clifford's success. Says Farrell, "Men tend to be strong in the area of 'doing.' Unlike women, men won't articulate what bothers them about the barriers; instead, their attitude is, 'When the going gets tough, the tough get going.'"

This may set off your stereotype alarm, but even Kaiser admits that men tend to be more logical, rather than emotional, thinkers. For now, anyway. "This is the first generation of women and men who have had more employment opportunities. Because of that we're going to see changes in emotional responses to one another in the workplace," she says.

Publicity, with an added dose of testosterone

For Richard Laermer, founder and CEO of RLM Public Relations in New York and author of Punk Marketing, maintaining an equal balance of men and women in his office is important, but he admits that in the PR industry, clients often prefer to work with a woman. "People like to talk to women on the phone--men can sometimes be harsh," he says. "Women can be more fun. They have a much softer way of being more forgiving and open."

Farrell agrees. When it comes to marketing and public relations, he says, "A PR person is trying to sell somebody. As a rule, a woman has a much better chance of being positively received by a male than a male has."

That was part of the challenge that appealed to Laermer when he founded his own PR firm. "Today, I think people stop themselves from taking on what is known as 'women's work,'" he says. Laermer is even writing a chapter of a book about this very topic. "The book is called 2011 and it's a comedic look at what the next decade will be like," he explains.

In fact, Laermer recounts a time when his office was staffed mostly by men. "It was too much testosterone and I believe it hurt us with clients," he says. Yet even now, as he tries to maintain an even male-to-female ratio in his office, Laermer says, "we're doing a lot of recruiting and I've probably interviewed about 80 to 85 percent women."

Public relations is a very social field, Kaiser says, which is why women are drawn to it. "It requires a lot of cultivation and nurturing of clients and women tend to be more nurturing and social in that way," she says.

Benefits of working with the opposite sex

One man who certainly sticks out in a field dominated by women is Anthony Samadani. An entertainment attorney by trade currently pursuing an additional career in producing films and television series, Samadani cofounded the Web site ConnectingMoms.com with his sister, Michelle, after she had her first child.

"She's used to working and when she was home for the first time, she told me how alone she felt," Samadani recalls. "So the idea was born out of necessity. We started researching and realized this is a huge demographic."

ConnectingMoms.com, which launched last year, has been successful at bringing together moms from all 50 states within a few months thanks to a strong word-of-mouth campaign. Samadani, who is single and doesn't have children, says when he tells clients about his involvement with the site, it usually begets a chuckle. "But, once they find out the story behind it, they love it," he says.

By working with his sister, Samadani says he now fully appreciates how the different points of view men and women often have can strengthen a business. "I do bring the non-emotional business side to it," he says. "I've tried several times to think like a mom and I've gotten it wrong every time," he adds with a laugh.

To succeed in a female-dominated field like these men have, Farrell recommends asking yourself, "What can I bring to the picture as a man?" For Samadani it was his business sense; for the others it was pursuing what they love, regardless of any preconceived idea of it being "women's work."

"You have to take your cues from the work environment," Kaiser says. "Pay attention, listen, and do your best to adapt to the office culture." This advice, she adds, applies to anyone in any job. "At the end of the day, if you don't fit in, you'll end up leaving regardless of any dominating gender," she notes.

Still, "if you have an attraction to a certain profession, chances are you're going to be good at it," Farrell concludes. "If you're in a minority, you have to prove yourself more, but oftentimes, people enjoy a little more diversity."
Source: by Jennifer Merritt, spotlight.encarta.msn.com/Features/encnet_Departments_CareerTraining_default_article_ReverseGlassCeiling1.html?GT1=10392

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