>What’s a man’s job?

>Or a woman’s, for that matter? And who decides?

Sometimes important questions are raised in seemingly unimportant conversations. Yesterday, one of our banker friends came over for some work. His parents – his mother, more specifically – are running a school in the city for some 700 children. And I candidly asked him if he also helps them out. “I think it’s more of a woman’s job,” he replied without taking a minute to pause and think. The Guy and I reacted with just an amused expression on our faces because The Guy does run a kindergarten school and is designated as Principal there, though he is involved in a lot of managerial level work and teaching per se.

I wasn’t just amused by that reply, I was also slightly taken aback. I know of quite a few men who’ve been excellent teachers, famous and popular as well in their profession. And yet, teaching is a job we usually associate with women. So when I commented on a blog recently about how The Guy gave up his job in the corporate sector to do something of his own – start a playschool – it raised a few eyebrows, appreciative yet surprised. A man taking care of pre-schoolers is seen as unconventional because in her role as a mother and nurturer, a woman is expected to perfectly fit into the shoes of a teacher while a man is expected to be awkward and inept.

But women like me were never made to fit that cast. And men like The Guy do such a good job of it. Why the stereotyping then? Do people forget that the reason we celebrate September 5 as Teacher’s Day in India is to commemorate the birthday of a teacher who was not a woman but a man?

There are other reasons why the teaching profession is highly recommended for women – you go to work at the same time as your children go to school and come back with them. So you can perfect the balancing act between work and home with ease. Because managing home is also such a woman’s job, right? The rationale does not take into account the woman’s aptitude or her ability to be a good teacher. It’s a job that allows our patriarchal society to feel good about letting its women work without compromising on her role at home.

A teacher is such an important part of anyone’s growing up years that it’s unsettling to know that the profession is often deemed as an arrangement of convenience for women – a half-hearted attempt at allowing them to have a career.

It’s quite okay for a man to be a college prof or lecturer, but as a school teacher, he’s not seen as fulfilling his duties as the breadwinner of the family. It’s true that teachers in schools are usually underpaid. However, it’s also true that the education industry in our country is now booming. And a good teacher is much in demand even after school hours, for private tuitions and coachings that have become quite a norm with school-going children these days. Not too hard to figure out that the take-home package for teachers is more than decent now.

The boundaries between what a man can do and what a woman must do are blurring in most professions and there are stories aplenty of women who’ve broken into male bastions: army, stock brokering, real estate and what have you. It’s time now to let the men in to women strongholds.


37 responses »

  1. >Interesting topic, and brilliant post. I remember, I once had this argument with my wife,and she was complaining that I don’t help with cooking, and buying groceries, and that she had to do everything. I said yeah, it’s a woman’s job and that you have to do it. (Not that, I am like that banker friend of yours, but just that, I knew it would irritate her, and did that purely for that reason)Obviously, argument ensued. I said, I do all the driving, going to the bank stuff, talking to the capenter, plumber, builder, etc. You don’t do that right ? So, there you go, I won’t cook !Well, it didn’t exactly sound as rude as that, but yeah that’s how it went…Problem, is whenever, I try to help with the cooking, she is only happier, with me out of the kitchen, and is comfortable if nobody intrudes ! I think it was just one of those moments, when she rants, and you have to listen and stop there. Don’t try to be nice neither contradict, just listen and stop right there 🙂

  2. >another nice posts..As per me there is no work which is meant specifically for men/women..it all depends on the interest of a person..ya in INDIA job of the teacher is considered ok types, but we must not forget that our base is made by such school teachers only..The problem in us is that we accept things easily..what we call them as “accepted norms”..noone is trying to change the things…not much ppl get into teaching job as it does not provide the luxury and money that other jobs provide these days..i think a revolution is needed in teaching industry which makes such jobs more lucrative…

  3. >:)interesting…that guy will be an exception..my most of the fav teachers were all male…Yeah, but this notion is very much prevalent in this society..that comes with the prejudistic approach that women are more caring and patient. So maybe teaching profession is more associated with women…but thats all a myth..and yeah, regarding women entering male professions..yeah, we need to give a heed for that…there is nothing as such male or female bastion…nice thoughts..!!:)

  4. >i guess a teacher is considered a second mother outside home and men definitel wudnt takeup/fit that responsibility.. for a reason as simple as that its complicated, responsible, emotional and some where indifference will never work!But generalization as always has taken place thro the yrs and men who really have those characteristics in them (which every women wud love) and moreso they r man nuff to accept it in life are looked at with awe 🙂 but m really proud of them.. and yes teaching is never considered a solid career, its more of the ‘art’ careers where u work more for passion and less more monetary benefits ..in a way good but in a way its chasin away the actaully passionate ones ..

  5. >Never thought in this manner because at my home we have both genders doing teacher job. Even in school had male teachers. Sometimes people reply “no my job” to hide their inability to suit to that requirement.

  6. >it has more to do with the economics, i think, its as simple as that. i was a teacher too, and had to look out for opportunities simply because i needed more money.hey btw, i wonder what other women strongholds there are? for one, though its the women who are ‘supposed’ to cook (that isn’t my opinion – before u catch me by the neck and strangle me – its just how it is assumed mostly), i find that most professional cooks are men. and i have always felt that men make better cooks than women do – just a subjective opinion based on observation. maybe coz they get to do it only once in a while, but the lady of the house gets so bored doing it day in and day out?

  7. >@inwantofbeingme: Okay, so I hear you. But I wish I could understand you.@insane: There are so many opportunities for teachers now, I don’t think it’s a poorly paid job anymore. Of course, you have to be a good teacher to tap into those opportunities. For example, there are part time opportunities for English teachers in various spoken English training institutes. A lot of vocational training institutes are coming up where teachers are much in demand. And are paid well as well.@vinz: thanks!@sansmerci: “men definitel wudnt takeup/fit that responsibility.. for a reason as simple as that its complicated, responsible, emotional and some where indifference will never work!” So you think men are incapabale of all that?!@bluemist: I agree. @dharmabum: I think the things are changing even on the economics front. And I don’t think it’s fair even to men to have all the burden of running a home on their shoulders. So much so that they cannot pursue what they may be good at and may want to do.As for women strongholds, you’ve stated the obvious. Men have also been accepted and welcomed in the beauty industry. And in the field of performing arts as well. I guess if men can do an item number, they can do anything now!@monika: Thank you 🙂

  8. >My favourite teacher of all times is a man…who taught me ALL that I know about English literature and writing. I’ve had teachers who’re men all through, so I really don’t understand people when they make it seem like a “woman’s job”. I don’t get it. At all. I think the notion is created because of the economic aspect of the whole thing. Its a known fact that teachers are underpaid, so for a teacher to maintain a family on his salary must not be so easy. And since its the man who’s seen as the breadwinner in our male oriented society, I can see why the eyebrows are raised. I personally feel that times are changing, and the concept of a single male breadwinner should definitely change. Its about time!Anyway, very interesting post :)..and on Teacher’s Day at that! Keep Writing!

  9. >@unmana: How many options do we have 🙂 – The Guy, The Boy, what else?@Neha: Coincidence that all these conversations happened around Teacher’s Day!@sansmerci: I blame it on the conditioning.@Chandni: One more? 🙂

  10. >good post!!!isn’t stereotyping so easy???I for one love the fact that between me and the boy, we stay away from as many as possible…and try to live life according to our comfort and at our pace!hats off to the guy and u for ur courage to follow ur convictions!

  11. >Men need liberation as much as women do. A friend’s son stays in the kitchen with me whenever they visit, advising me how to try cooking this that way and all, and he’s brilliant. They are quite prepared that this may be his future career. A nephew was scorned for preferring guitar to horse riding or shooting, but everybody got a nice lecture on non violence and love of arts. I was sooo proud of him. My son loves football but he lives for music and he also enjoys occasional forays in baking. My husband is very fond of cooking, much to mom’s horror :)All this gender based division of tasks was fine (well maybe ? they weren’t exactly bright we know that)in the prehistoric times, we’d be doing ourselves a favour if we shake these shackles off and do whatever we love to do, because that’s probably what we are likely to do best. Happy Teacher’s Day to your husband 🙂

  12. >”A teacher is such an important part of anyone’s growing up years that it’s unsettling to know that the profession is often deemed as an arrangement of convenience for women – a half-hearted attempt at allowing them to have a career.”True. And haven’t we all had good and bad female teachers, just as we’ve all seen good and bad male teachers. No profession should technically be a male or a female stronghold.And, as far as the profession in question goes, I really think it’s high time we as a society stop assuming that teaching is a good way to be passing time and earning money. These are people who educate citizens of tomorrow. They should be qualified and good at their jobs – no?I have so often heard people say things like, “oh if nothing else, she can become a teacher.” Someone I know did really well in her advertising course, and then for whatever reasons took up teaching in a kindergarten school. And it was amazing to hear this woman herself being ashamed of the fact that she was teaching – it was like she was being defensive about the thought that she’s wasting her time in a non-profession.

  13. >A topic that’s close to my heart. I loved how you looked at various aspects of the argument. Nice post!In our home, I do the cooking only because I am better at it, and if we desire half-way decent food, it’s best to leave it to the woman of the house. That’s how all the chores in our house are split between the two of us. As for professions, who is to say anymore what’s a woman’s job vs. a man’s? Maybe women are considered to have better aptitude for nurturing and teaching, but after being taught by several awesome male teachers, i just can’t seem to agree with that idea. I compete mostly with men in my job and hate it when i am also expected to fulfill traditional women roles. I earn as much as HG (and sometimes more) but my FIL will never consider me as the breadwinner of the family. Makes me sooooo mad some days. It’s just social conditioning that makes some people not even question these things.

  14. >Hey.You know what… whenever there is a discussion on ‘men’s job’ and ‘women’s job’ I feel proud of my family coz amusingly yet thankfully, my dad does double the house chores than what my mother does and that too without too much of fretting and grumbling (He wishes none of his friends and colleagues comes to know about it though).I always feel my mom’s real lucky to have a husband who can do the work in the house as well as at office so efficiently (and hope I get this lucky as well)Great post btw. Keep Rocking!

  15. >thought provoking topic. Very well written as always! I`m a lil surprised by your friend`s reaction here. Because frankly this idea didnt cross my mind ever. Some of the best and my fav teachers from school have been men. Only I didnt ever think of it that way.. 🙂

  16. >@IHM: You’re right. The gender based division of work should cease to exist.@threedrinksahead: Teaching is the kind of job you should take up only if it’s your calling. Even if the money is good, the growth prospects – in terms of going up a career ladder – are few. It pays to be a teacher only if you enjoy it.@globalindyan: I know what you mean. I face that situation at home myself where my work is considered as a “pastime” even though it’s good to make me the breadwinner of the family!@tanvi: That’s wonderful. I think there are lots of men out there who would even like to do the household chores except that they don’t think it would it in with their image outside.@piper: Thank you. And yes, I do think he was a little hasty in saying what he did.

  17. >Such people are not only in denial, they actually belong to another era, BC perhaps. Did he actually mean to dismiss his mom’s 700 children wala work as just a ‘woman’s job’ It probably runs his home!

  18. >a though process rarely touched up on!! :)yeah! i am gulty of similar thought at times when i wish i was a teacher so that i cud get long summer vacations and get home on time for Cubby! but i know i suck at teaching and would never attempt it for convenience!The Guy has a play school? can he give a job to my M? he is brilliant with kids!! wayyyy better than i am!!and what are our defined roles is doing of centuries of beliefs! things are changing and we are caught in a generation of conflict! i always laugh thinking of this story where a mother is talking about her son and daughter. she says how lucky her daughter is because she has a hubby who cooks and cleans and helps her with everything! how lucky she is!and in the same breath she says, but my son is so unlucky! he has to cook and clean at home!! :pam sure things will keep changing for better!!cheers!abha

  19. >My grand father was a teacher through out his life. He taught for 42 years before he took voluntary retirement from the school, primarily because of his health and personal reasons. Even though he is no more, the school remembers him in their own way, which is very touching for me – 5000 meters cycle race trophy is named after him. Hats off to the teachers, gender does not matter…

  20. >What I have noticed is that the ratio of women to men is higher for younger kids…I guess women are better at handling the little ones. Age 10 yrs and above, doesn’t make a difference. Either one is just as good.

  21. >Hi,first time here from jira s post.Very nice post. Honestly I think theres nothing like mans job & womans job.Each one can excel in others so called Bastion.Basically this is ingrained from childhood by parents and perhaps an equal contribution from the society.Teachers day is celebrated in memory of one of the best teachers Late Dr S Radhakrishnan,and in my factory the in charge is a woman Engineer who handles it in her own way.Very thought provoking post from youTCCU

  22. >this actually left me thinking, D … there are a few things that I cannot trust Pavan with no matter waht … n these are things that are traditionally woman’s jobs …. like cleaning, cooking et al … lemme think about this … thanks for the post.

  23. >Hey, completely agree. There’s nothing like a man’s job or a woman’s job. But, I’ll be lying if I say that I follow it completely because I really don’t. Between the husband and me, I voluntarily gave up my time-consuming full-time job and settled for a part-time job…….because probably somewhere I did feel that raising the kid was primarily my job. Not at all upset about it, but it does reflect the conservative thinking that continues to be even with the modern Indian women.

  24. >@Aneri_masi: Never thought of it like that.@CU & Roop: Glad to know I've given you some fodder for thought.@mira's mom: I would have done the same thing if I were you. I think it's just our conditioning.

  25. >nicely written…Like others mentioned, there were so many wonderful male teachers I have come across. My own grand dad was a head master and teacher in those days. so i think maybe only a section of the society might think that it is not a suitable profession for men.In any case, hats off to ‘the guy’. What he embarked on is commendable!

  26. >oh well… this post i guess was of th time i was away from th net.. anyways… is it surprising that if i do a search for the guy i get most of your posts included…? so wat does that make you a ‘family blogger’? ahh there i go.. personally i feel males make better teachers than women… maybe its because its an accepted female bastion, only the really dedicated men take to teaching… and without meaning offence, a lot of women see it as first resort! personally i would love to teach… shakespeare… but yeah, i cant stand being static at work…. so i dont think ill ever be that!

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