The Glass Escalator: hidden advantages for men in the female profession. Christine
Williams examined men’s experience in four female-dominated professions (nursing,
elementary school teachers, librarians and social workers).
She interviewed 76 men and 23 women in these professions in four metropolitan areas.
The theory of tokenism would predict that any small group (e.g., men in women-dominated
professions) experiences discrimination.
However, sexism against women may outweigh any discrimination against men as tokens in
Research on women in male-dominated professions has found a “glass- ceiling,” a level above
women can’t rise due to discrimination.
Williams did not find this effect for men in female-dominated professions. Instead, these men
experienced a “glass escalator” that pushed them upwards in the professions.
In these professions, there is a general preference for hiring men.
Men are steered away from the most female-dominated parts of the professions (e.g.,
teaching lower grades, librarian in the children collection), but this may result in them
being “kicked-upstairs” into better paying and more prestigious positions.
Men in female-dominated professions are more likely to be supervised by men than
women in male-dominated professions.
This can result in rapport with and special treatment from supervisors. (This isn’t
necessarily true for gay men.)
There was some differential treatment of men (e.g., being asked to lift heavy boxes), but
men didn’t always experience this negatively.
Discrimination from outsiders:
Men’s movement into these jobs is perceived by the outside world as a step down in
Men in these professions often experience discrimination from the public, such as
stereotypes that they are gay or asexual or that they are unable to get a better job.
Men who work with children may be thought to be pedophiles.
These types of stigma may be a major barrier to men entering these jobs.
However, negative public reaction may also result in men being promoted to jobs with
less public contact.
Men are less likely to enter female sex-typed occupations than women are to enter male-
Forms of discrimination, legal, informal and even culture contributes to women’s