The UT Social Work Council held a discussion about the effects of being a male in female-dominated workplaces on Wednesday.
Four male panelists from the fields of pharmacy, nursing, mental health and social work gave an open discussion on how being in predominantly female careers can impact men’s workplace experiences. Scott Hudson, who got a bachelor’s degree in theater but eventually pursued medical research and nursing, said he was in between career choices before making his final career decision.
“I was between culinary school and nursing,” Hudson said. “And I realized that … since elementary school, I’ve always cared about helping people.”
The event was hosted by the Voices Against Violence in the Counseling and Mental Health Center as part of their MasculinUT program, which aims to educate students on the role of gender in interpersonal relationships.
One of the main inspirations for the event came from the poster campaign MasculinUT promoted last fall, in which a student shared his struggles with studying nursing and facing judgment from his peers because nursing is a predominantly female profession.
“Restrictive definitions (of masculinity) say men can’t do certain hobbies or jobs or have certain emotions,” said Lauren White, health education coordinator for VAV. “We were interested around having an event around this student’s specific topic … and it really made sense because there are a lot of fields out there that are female-dominated.”
The panelists said caring for others was the primary motivation for joining their fields, and they weren’t discouraged from pursuing their fields because of gender bias.
The panelists also talked about their personal experiences once they started working and said the women in their offices made them more aware of the struggles that women face on a daily basis.
Bryson Duhon, the assistant dean of Student Success at the College of Pharmacy, said seeing his female associates being treated in a patronizing way opened his eyes to gender bias.
“(It gave me an) increased appreciation and sensitivity towards offensive terms and microaggresions,” Duhon said.
Kouang Chan, director of University Ombuds, a UT department that allows students to raise concerns about the University, said he hopes people talk about gender identity and be open and honest about what they enjoy.
“It’s okay to be masculine or feminine and it’s okay to do this work,” Chan said. “We hope that students learn they can do whatever work they like.”