Education, health, justice, social … These professions abandoned by men


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In Oslo, Norway, young parents no longer entrust their lovers to “educators” but to “girls”. A more neutral word that has the advantage of accompanying the silent revolution that is taking place, that of the masculinization of the early childhood sector. In a country where the gender pay gap is one of the lowest in the world, the government has set itself a new challenge: to encourage men to choose highly feminized professions. A law has even been passed to promote the hiring of a man rather than a woman, with equal skills, in the health, social or educational sectors. For some years now, in the country’s kindergartens, strong classmates have been preparing baby bottles, reading lullabies and calming the children to nap, while they wait … for mother’s time! They would represent more than 10% of the workforce, compared to 1.5% in France.

Diversity, not just a female issue

In France, while the issue of gender equality is in the public square, the issue is almost taboo. “As long as we only talk about diversity from the point of view of the presence of women in very masculine sectors or professions, we will never solve the problem,” said Françoise Vouillot, a former professor of guidance psychology at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. Cnam). ).

As if the challenge was just to feminize the boards of directors, the governing bodies of the big groups, the engineering schools, the mathematics faculties or the computer science schools … By forgetting, on the contrary, to masculinize the health professions or justice, education or personal services. “A silence that reproduces gender inequalities instead of questioning the whole of social construction,” adds Françoise Milewski, an economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE).

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The result ? French employees operate in a very gender-differentiated labor market. And maybe more than anywhere else. Occupational segregation between men and women is relatively strong in France, write the authors of a study by the Directorate of Animation of Research, Studies and Statistics (Dares) published in 2019. Of the 87 major families of professions identified, only 18 would be mixed, that is, with a proportion of each of the two sexes ranging from 40 to 60% of the workforce. In fact, more than three-quarters of the positions of schoolteacher, psychologist, nurse, midwife, nursing assistant, veterinarian, judge, secretary, prison counselor, etc., are held by women. As if all the professions of care, listening, care, education had been abandoned over the years by the “strong sex” … because they were less remunerative or less socially rewarding.

female medicine

A trend that could be further accentuated in the next decade with the retirement of “boomers” and the choice of orientation in certain areas of higher education. During the 2020-2021 academic year, 72.2% of undergraduate law and political science students were girls; 66.6% in life sciences and natural sciences; 83.8% in the first year common to health studies (Paces), leading to competitions in medicine, dentistry or pharmacy.

“Given the age pyramid, this will end up being a serious problem for the organization of medicine in France, because women prefer to work in large structures in the city rather than in field offices,” worries Jean- François Gerard-Varet, chairman of the demographic commission of the National Council of the Order of Physicians. At the National School of the Judiciary (ENM), just 20% of students who pass the competition are men. That is enough to frighten some people into the arrival of “women’s justice.” An argument put forward by Nathalie Roret, director of the ENM: “Justice is done in the name of the French people, there is no sex under the guise.” A study by three sociologists on the feminization of justice published in 2016 by Éditions de la Découverte confirms that the gender of family court judges has no effect on the nature of decisions. “Magistrates and magistrates make the same kind of decisions, both in terms of children’s residence and alimony,” he says.

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In the meantime, how do we achieve real equality in the world of work? Everything would be played out in adolescence at the time of the first orientation option. Last July, a report on co-education and the choice of guidelines for high school was presented to Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of Education. Among the avenues considered, the creation of a “scholarship for gender minorities” is being studied. The goal? Encourage financial scholarship students to choose, at the end of the second class, specialization courses in which they would be a minority in terms of gender. Clearly, computer science or math for girls, management or letters for boys. “To be effective, the incentive must be strong,” said Claude Roiron, Ministerial Delegate for Gender Equality. No arbitration is done, but a “bonus” of several tens of euros a month in first class is expected, which would double in terminal if the student retains the specialty. An attractive proposal on paper, but which could also end up stigmatizing poor students … I’m not sure that the financial carrot manages to overcome the stereotypes: the hugs of the mother, the father works …


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