Spacefem.com

Why do some professions have low prestige among graduates?

Because women are people too

Moderators: deanimal, lillerina, Tookie

Why do some professions have low prestige among graduates?

Postby lillerina » Thu Mar 14, 14:26 2013

I was recently discussing teachers with Butterfly North, and she pointed out that teaching is a problem in part because it's a career with low prestige among graduates. This means that top graduates are likely to avoid it, meaning that students won't be taught by top graduates, which means that the students won't think of it as a career that top graduates go into, meaning that when they become top graduates they're likely to avoid it... vicious cycle. I've experienced this myself, while considering teaching. A voice in my head questions whether that's really likely to be the best use of my time with my multiple degrees from world ranked institutions. This is despite the fact that I was taught by people with multiple degrees from institutions ranked at least as highly as mine, and that I have friends who teach high school with their PhDs. On an unconscious level, there's a part of me that doesn't value teaching as highly as I actually do.

Teaching has long been viewed as a feminised profession, linked with nurturing qualities. In the mid nineteenth century it was one of the few jobs that a lady could do without being dropped from the term 'lady' and becoming merely a 'woman' (yes, icky class stuff going on there). Since teaching in a village school might come with a cottage attached to the school, it was a way for a woman to provide for herself both monetarily and by having a place to live. It was an empowering way of being self reliant. However, it is not a profession that has ever been very well paid.

I wonder how much of a causal relationship we can draw between stereotypical "women's professions", low prestige, and low pay. Nursing, teaching and secretarial work are all underpaid, associated almost exclusively with women (to the point that 'nurse' is qualified with 'male' if a man does it, but not with 'female' if a woman does it) and lacking in prestige. Is it that 'women's work' drew less prestige or that less prestigious jobs failed to draw men and ended up hiring women which then feminised the job itself? It's impossible to tell in which direction the correlation lies. Similarly, are these jobs low-paid due to the lack of prestige, or is the lack of prestige the result of low pay?

And, perhaps more interestingly, how can we solve these problems? If we spread out gender distribution more - get more women into STEM fields, get more men into 'nurturing' professions, will the pay gap and the prestige follow along with that? Or will the glass ceiling/glass elevator effects just end up shuttling men to the top even more, leaving women in more 'junior' jobs, less well paid and with lower prestige than the old boys' club CEOs at the top there?
If I bang my head against a brick wall five times and get five lumps, why am I surprised when I bang it a sixth time and get a sixth lump?

"Isn't it funny that the only time your race or gender is questioned is when you're not a white man?" - Wanda Sykes
User avatar
lillerina
We are the internet. We are one.
We are the internet. We are one.
 
Posts: 6882
Joined: Mon Jan 9, 8:32 2006
Location: Meppi's Cedar Closet / Narnia

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby monk » Fri Mar 15, 9:20 2013

Just to complete your historical picture, before the 19th century most of the teaching jobs were held by men since only men could acquire the higher degrees required to become a teacher.

The prestige issue is closely related to the issue with child raising, our current society places economic value on the ability to produce goods and/or services in the marketplace and values the education and development of the next generation much lower whether that's in the home or at our fine education institutions.

I forget where I got the story but there was a group of people (professionals) sitting around the table and the question came up "what do you make?". The CEO person made the most, followed by the lawyer, the saleperson etc. When it came around to the teacher, the teacher said, "I make a difference"

The only way those in the corporate world will respect educators is when we as a society start paying them a respectable amount of money or give them some sort of other societal benefit that can't be bought. It's one of the reasons why those who Pile it Higher and Deeper, get the honorific to their names. Sadly unless you force those around you to use it (and many don't) it loses some of it's prestige.
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? - Pink Floyd.
User avatar
monk
try to ignore it if I offend you.
try to ignore it if I offend you.
 
Posts: 7403
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 23:46 2003

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Sonic# » Fri Mar 15, 12:04 2013

Besides pay, teaching has become an increasingly regulated profession, and those regulations (including the emphasis on testing, the diminished power of teacher unions, and the belief that measures of output matter more than pedagogy) make me leery of pursuing secondary education.

One answer I come around to: it's easy to undervalue educational or caretaking tasks, either because the ethical mission tends to articulate arguments of obligation and necessity rather than arguments of economic worth or because the expertise involved is less tangible. Teachers need to know both the material they teach to students and the theory behind it. They need to figure out ways to convey that material to students in such a way that they understand it. These are not easy skills to acquire or teach; many teachers spend four years in college and another year or two of training, with yearly training thereafter to maintain these skills and develop new ones. Yet what people see are teachers in classrooms or teachers during conferences; because the qualifications are invisible and the results are intangible, it's easy to take them for granted. When the training isn't easy but everyone believes it is - well, that's a reason I don't want to do it.

I'm not sure where gender comes into that. It's easy to undervalue tasks that are believed to be (or are) about caretaking. Is that because those tasks are associated with women, or vice versa? Maybe it's a bit of both, the two cultural narratives in this case reinforcing one another.

Not all teachers are underpaid or lack prestige. Tutors of the rich are well recompensed. So are professors at prestigious institutions. Catholic school teachers often get good pay and are well-regarded. I think there's a somewhat insidious distinction going on here, where the prestige of the profession also depends on the prestige of the students. Children, for all that they are our hopes or dreams, are not regarded as needing special skills to handle pedagogically. When the kids are poor, well, they're systematically underfunded. When the students go to a community college or take remedial classes, suddenly the skills required to teach those kids are undervalued as well. There seems to be some kind of conflation of what the students are believed to be capable of and what the teachers' role is.
User avatar
Sonic#
established
established
 
Posts: 2725
Joined: Sat Nov 7, 9:37 2009

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Zormingash » Fri Mar 15, 21:23 2013

yeaah i dont think teaching not being respected is because it's a "nurturing" job. It might be because of other small factors like:

- Very little "career" potential
- Low pay
- Usually sedentary
- Not very intellectually challenging
- Public sector (which is itself usually not seen as prestigious)
- Not glamorous

All in all...teachers have low prestige because its a position which has low prestige.

Teachers are extremely important, but most people I know who want to be teachers dont do it to "educate the next generation". They do it because they kindda like kids, and it seems attainable.
Zormingash
established
established
 
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 21:10 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby rowan » Sat Mar 16, 9:48 2013

Zormingash wrote:- Low pay

I think that is a result of it being not respected though certainly it can become a cycle.

- Usually sedentary
- Not very intellectually challenging

hahahahahahahaha yeah right. It's totally not sedentary (I have no idea how k-12 teachers manage to be on their feet so long), and it's extremely intellectually challenging.

All in all...teachers have low prestige because its a position which has low prestige.

Except when it was men doing the teaching it wasn't low prestige.
Global warming is intricately tied to the decline in the pirate population. As the pirate population goes down, the average global temperature goes up. Ergo, pirates are cool, and we need more pirates. :pirate: ARRR!
User avatar
rowan
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
 
Posts: 6944
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 11:01 2004

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby monk » Sat Mar 16, 21:40 2013

rowan wrote:
All in all...teachers have low prestige because its a position which has low prestige.

Except when it was men doing the teaching it wasn't low prestige.


Doctor, lawyer, priest, sheriff, wealthy landowners & businessesmen and teachers used to be those with prestige in a town setting. Funny how only teachers lost prestige and funny how only teaching became a profession dominated by women...
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? - Pink Floyd.
User avatar
monk
try to ignore it if I offend you.
try to ignore it if I offend you.
 
Posts: 7403
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 23:46 2003

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Butterfly North » Sun Mar 17, 3:22 2013

Lilly has already summed up the substantive part of what I think, so I won't repeat. But one thing that just struck me is that actually I have a number of friends from working class backgrounds who have become or are becoming teachers, and they and their families are just ecstatic with pride. 'My son is a teacher, you know...' is a pretty big brag from a working class perspective.

So now I've rethought I'd no longer call it low prestige, just lower than it should be.
User avatar
Butterfly North
established
established
 
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 15:06 2008

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Zormingash » Sun Mar 17, 5:45 2013

Doctor, lawyer, priest, sheriff, wealthy landowners & businessesmen and teachers used to be those with prestige in a town setting. Funny how only teachers lost prestige and funny how only teaching became a profession dominated by women...


Except when it was men doing the teaching it wasn't low prestige.


New lawyers are now 50% female, up from 10% half a century years ago. But it hasn't lost its prestige. Correlation does not mean causation.

I think that is a result of it being not respected though certainly it can become a cycle.


It's a result of teachers not creating any value, at least not directly. People pay money to people who can earn them more money. Teachers used to be decently paid when education was expensive, but now that it's free (at least in my country), teachers are not well paid. Same reason stay-at-home parents are not paid a dime even though society wouldn't function without them.
Zormingash
established
established
 
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 21:10 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Butterfly North » Sun Mar 17, 6:19 2013

^I see what you're saying but 'value' doesn't quite have the meaning you're setting out there.

For example: legal aid lawyers and most doctors (aka not doctors in the US and a few other special-case countries) offer their services for free, at least from the perspective of the user. But from the perspective of society as a whole it isn't free because they're being paid - what is happening is that society is deeming those services to have a given value, and is remunerating them for it. I pay for my healthcare through taxes. I also pay for the education of today's children through taxes. Educating children is not less expensive now and teaching does not have a smaller value, it's just paid for using a different system.

However, you do make a good point about the link between value and payment not being direct for public sector workers. There are all manner of broken links between the amount people are paid and the amount they receive in pay, both in the public and private sectors. Certain banking roles being good examples of how pay can be waaaay higher than a reasonable assessment of the value of the work. But one of the big things when it comes to public sector roles is that their pay can be political ("they're paying teachers how much??? that's way too much/little!!!") and is therefore subject to the prejudices of the population.

I know this is a doublepost but it's not on the same topic or conversation so... I think that's ok?
User avatar
Butterfly North
established
established
 
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 15:06 2008

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Butterfly North » Sun Mar 17, 6:19 2013

^I see what you're saying but 'value' doesn't quite have the meaning you're setting out there.

For example: legal aid lawyers and most doctors (aka not doctors in the US and a few other special-case countries) offer their services for free, at least from the perspective of the user. But from the perspective of society as a whole it isn't free because they're being paid - what is happening is that society is deeming those services to have a given value, and is remunerating them for it. I pay for my healthcare through taxes. I also pay for the education of today's children through taxes. Educating children is not less expensive now and teaching does not have a smaller value, it's just paid for using a different system.

However, you do make a good point about the link between value and payment not being direct for public sector workers. There are all manner of broken links between the amount people are paid and the amount they receive in pay, both in the public and private sectors. Certain banking roles being good examples of how pay can be waaaay higher than a reasonable assessment of the value of the work. But one of the big things when it comes to public sector roles is that their pay can be political ("they're paying teachers how much??? that's way too much/little!!!") and is therefore subject to the prejudices of the population.

I know this is a doublepost but it's not on the same topic or conversation so... I think that's ok?
User avatar
Butterfly North
established
established
 
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 15:06 2008

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby octarineoboe » Sun Mar 17, 10:50 2013

Sonic# wrote:I'm not sure where gender comes into that. It's easy to undervalue tasks that are believed to be (or are) about caretaking. Is that because those tasks are associated with women, or vice versa? Maybe it's a bit of both, the two cultural narratives in this case reinforcing one another.


Sonic, I think you're right and it's really important - caretaking in general is both seen as women's work and undervalued. Nursing, for example, very much faces this problem. The prestige gap (let alone pay!) between doctors and nurses is much wider than the differences in their jobs merit (at least in my opinion). I don't know exactly which way it goes either, but I would note two things:
1. Women's housework is also undervalued. Not sure what that means, but I think it should be part of the discussion.
2. We can historically trace a profession's fall in prestige and pay as it becomes feminized. Teaching, of course, as we've discussed. Secretarial work used to be one step in a man's career, not a lifelong profession. Now secretaries/administrative assistants are overwhelmingly female* and the pay is much lower. The written source for the dropping pay isn't where I thought it was, but I studied it in a women's history class with an established scholar in the field, so I trust her.

Zorm, I would imagine the reason we haven't seen a similar process at work in law and medicine is that the entry of women in those fields in large numbers is fairly recent (I'm eliding some late 19th- and early 20th-century female doctors here, which is ALSO an interesting study in how women are more accepted in "caretaking" professions, but let's roll with it for now), and they are still, for the most part, far from the top of those fields - fewer women partners in law firms and so on. Moreover, this shift is occurring after second-wave feminism, and I think that does make a difference. Correlation is not causation, but counterexamples without context are equally unconvincing.

*96.8% female in 2009, according to Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee, Women's Voices, Feminist Visions (McGraw-Hill, 2009), p.407, using Dept. of Labor statistics.
User avatar
octarineoboe
established
established
 
Posts: 404
Joined: Mon May 28, 21:25 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Anonguy » Wed Mar 27, 1:16 2013

You know...some MRA's(yes that's a dirty word) have a thought about this that makes abit of sense. However they would no doubt say I am misrepresenting the argument...and I kinda am by trying to break it down to its core elements.

The thought is As women become more prevalent in a field that men will start to evacuate it as the competition that was once male/male for prestige starts to turn to a male/female competition. A man gets no or very little prestige for beating a women but losses much more when being beat by a women.

I don't know if that was very clear so let me try it this way. Men get societal prestige by getting the promotion over the other, and by virtue they also get sex.
However a job that will likely have you competing with a women for the same position affords little to no gain and will be viewed as a low prestige(this will no doubt effect pay) as men leave looking for other ways to compete for power and prestige.

I probably should have put more thought into that before posting but I thought it was worth looking at. I do have a few issues with it as I can't be the only asshole who sees the opportunity in surrounding yourself with women at work to get sex as opposed to working at a sausage feast trying to oneup each other in a effort to attract sex... but then I have been wrong before.
"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue." -Erick Fromm
Anonguy
established
established
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Sun Dec 2, 3:10 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Zormingash » Wed Mar 27, 6:14 2013

I am not convinced by the idea that us men are hellbent on looking for validation by competing for jobs against other men like animals fighting over a female, and that when we compete with women we would rather reject a field of work than risk the shame of losing to a girl...We are not that dumb.
Zormingash
established
established
 
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 21:10 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby rowan » Wed Mar 27, 8:23 2013

Well, there was that kid who refused to wrestle a girl in tournament, for just that reason. This is a problem though, and something that should culturally change.
Global warming is intricately tied to the decline in the pirate population. As the pirate population goes down, the average global temperature goes up. Ergo, pirates are cool, and we need more pirates. :pirate: ARRR!
User avatar
rowan
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
 
Posts: 6944
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 11:01 2004

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby monk » Wed Mar 27, 9:03 2013

It's a valid point that is similar to how some men have problems working and taking orders from women bosses. It comes out in the educational system when you look at the ratio of men to women teachers and then see the ratio of men to women school principals. It reminds me of when I was in Uni and they came to our education classes begging men to switch majors from secondary ed(high school) to primary ed(elementary ). There was a perceived lesser prestige dealing with the younger kids
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? - Pink Floyd.
User avatar
monk
try to ignore it if I offend you.
try to ignore it if I offend you.
 
Posts: 7403
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 23:46 2003

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Anonguy » Wed Mar 27, 14:05 2013

Zormingash wrote:I am not convinced by the idea that us men are hellbent on looking for validation by competing for jobs against other men like animals fighting over a female, and that when we compete with women we would rather reject a field of work than risk the shame of losing to a girl...We are not that dumb.

I do admit this is all off the cuff with almost nothing more then "its sounds worth looking at" to back it up. However lets try running with that for a bit.
First I would point out that it is not just the shame of losing to a women that they would be missing out on, but the bump in statues they would get by competing with a man.
Next I would point out that it is not like they are choosing unemployment over working with women, They are simply choosing the path that also leads to higher social states and the perks including sex that come with that. I would not call the men who picked such a path "dumb".
What a mans job is directly affects how attractive women tend to find him. As Henry Kissinger said "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac".
Our "power" or statues affects so much of how we interact with each other.

One of the simplest and yet most fascinating experiments to test the thesis is the "cookie crumbles" experiment. Researchers placed college students in groups of three and gave them an artificial assignment -- collaboration on a short policy paper about a social issue. They then randomly assigned one of the students to evaluate the other two for points that would affect their ability to win a cash bonus. Having set up this artificial power hierarchy, researchers then casually brought to working trios plates containing five cookies.

They found that not only did the disinhibited "powerful" students eat more than their share of the cookies, they were more likely to chew with their mouths open and to scatter crumbs over the table.

Gruenfeld offers a similar example from her career in journalism when she occasionally met with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. She recalls that he routinely would swig vodka from a bottle and eat raw onions -- without ever offering to share -- "and it never even occurred to the rest of us, because it was understood that he had the power and we did not."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/P ... z2OlnHcggX


Both men and women who have a high need for power have sexual intercourse more often than those who have lower power needs[i] and dominance and sex are biologically linked in every mammalian species, including humans. Roughly one in twelve Asian men, for instance, possess a Y chromosome which can be traced back to a single sexually-prolific individual who lived in Central Asia around 1200 AD – almost certainly Genghis Khan.

I really recommend watching the movie Science of Sex appeal, its on netflix. At about the 40 min mark it talks about how males peacock and why statues and power would be important for a women choosing a mate.
"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue." -Erick Fromm
Anonguy
established
established
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Sun Dec 2, 3:10 2012

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Hannah30 » Thu Apr 25, 23:23 2013

Teaching is a low prestige profession because supply of people qualified to be teachers exceeds demand. It's easy for liberal arts graduates, when they realize they need a job, to qualify as teachers. A lot of them do, and that drives down the salary, and consequently the prestige. It doesn't have a lot to do with gender.
Hannah30
established
established
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 21:10 2013

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Aum » Sat Apr 27, 9:21 2013

Teacher tenure in the public education system means that bad teachers are rewarded with continuous employment while good teachers get what exactly? Nothing. If you're a top scholar and you can compete for better jobs (like in private education), then why would you bother to enter a system that equalizes you with people who should not still be employed?

The CEO club is mostly dynastic, coming from old money. The richest people in the world operate under the traditional filial system where the children are raised to replace the parents as barons of industry, and the son is still the favoured heir. I think in order to change the gender order of the upper crust, you need to break through the old money so that newer entrants can join the game, and that's not easy. The power grip is so tight right now.

I think teaching is more gender biased based on which subjects are being covered. The arts and humanities are seen as more feminine, whereas science, math, and technology are seen as more masculine; the gender ratios in those adult fields confirms this as well. My science and math teachers throughout my years of schooling have primarily been men, whereas women covered the arts and humanities more. I don't personally associate teaching as a whole with women because growing up I had an equal number of male to female teachers. Maybe I'm an exception?

Public education as it stands is still based on the industrial model. There is a lot wrong with it beyond the gender issues. Grouping everyone according to age and not skill level is draconian; making students sit at desks for hours on end focusing on single subjects when they are now accustomed to multi-media, dynamic platforms is counter-productive; enforcing what to learn instead of how to learn has lead to multiple generations of stagnant, non-critical thinkers. I think if we want to change the gender norming in education, we need to dispose of the old foundation. Maybe people are associating teaching with women because the structure of education itself has more or less remained the same for 200 years?
The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence. -W.A.
User avatar
Aum
Into The Unknown
Into The Unknown
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 23:35 2007
Location: Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby cwbyrvr » Sat Apr 27, 22:28 2013

Hannah30 wrote:Teaching is a low prestige profession because supply of people qualified to be teachers exceeds demand. It's easy for liberal arts graduates, when they realize they need a job, to qualify as teachers. A lot of them do, and that drives down the salary, and consequently the prestige. It doesn't have a lot to do with gender.

This is interesting to me as where I live, they have waived requirements for teaching. You don't have to be certified to teach because there's such a shortage of teachers. Obviously this indicates a further lack of prestige for the job, but it seems to counteract your assertion that there are too many people qualified for the job.
spacefem wrote:incidently, hearing "i love you" doesn't count if you're naked. it's just too easy to love a naked person.

Rainbow Dolphins wrote:My armpits are the only area of my body that almost always stays clean-shaven, because if I let it go I feel like a 15-year-old boy trying to grow a beard. In my armpits.
User avatar
cwbyrvr
Phil
Phil
 
Posts: 6295
Joined: Mon Nov 3, 13:32 2003
Location: A Box of Fermented Grape Juice.

Re: Why do some professions have low prestige among graduate

Postby Butterfly North » Sun Apr 28, 1:40 2013

I think one of the issues here is we're all dealing with different school systems. Lilly would have been talking about UK schools while the regional variation in the US is likely to be massive. The interesting thing is that while variables like pay and supply of willing graduates varies by area the overall picture pretty much everywhere seems to be a decline in prestige.

Which suggests there might be one or two big things in common across all systems... but I've no clue as to what they are.
User avatar
Butterfly North
established
established
 
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 15:06 2008


Return to Feminism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

cron