Benefits and Challenges

Employment in a nontraditional field can offer many benefits for both males and females. The most important benefit you should consider when choosing a nontraditional career is job satisfaction. So when deciding on your career path, it is a good idea to consider all of your options, and not to limit yourself because you think the job you want is only for a person of a specific gender.

Additionally, nontraditional occupations may pose a few challenges. The best way to navigate these challenges is through awareness and having a plan of action by using available resources. Being prepared and determined are keys to your success in a nontraditional career.

Benefits

  • Job Satisfaction. Research shows that individuals who choose careers based solely on their interests and abilities rather than on gender stereotypes experience greater job satisfaction.
  • Higher Salaries and Better Benefits. Nontraditional occupations often offer higher salaries than for traditional occupations, in particular for women. Additionally, health and retirement benefits for nontraditional careers are often better.
  • Better Advancement Opportunities/Established Career Ladders. Nontraditional careers are often unionized and/or have established career ladders so that employees can work their way up to even higher salaries and better benefits.
  • Variety. Considering nontraditional occupations provide a greater variety of career opportunities.
  • Setting a standard. Being one of the first of your gender to succeed in a nontraditional occupation can open doors for others like you to follow, and even have an impact on societal views of traditional gender roles in the workforce. 

Challenges

  • Societal and internal challenges. Preconceived notions of what is women's work and what is men's work are part of our society. Career choices are significantly influenced by our traditions and the way we were socialized. In reality, few jobs have requirements that effectively limit employment to only one gender.
  • Lack of career mentors and sense of isolation in the workplace. Mentors can be critical to your success professionally and personally. As there are few nontraditional genders within these occupations, those just entering the occupation often find themselves without a mentor or someone of the same gender to turn to. However, as you become familiar with your coworkers and vice versa, the sense of isolation decreases.
  • Negative feelings from coworkers. There could also be some negative feelings from coworkers if they believe you were a token-hire. In extreme cases, these negative feeling can lead to discrimination and/or sexual harassment.
  • Lack of support from family and friends. Many times, those entering into nontraditional careers also experience barriers from family and friends. They may simply not understand why you have chosen to break with the societal view of an occupation or why you would chose the challenges of pursuing a nontraditional occupation. Be prepared to agree to disagree in the beginning, as it could take years for your family's and friend's long-held concepts to change. The best thing you can do is to show them your commitment to being successful in your nontraditional occupation!