“They are not supermen. With the uniform and the helmet there are no differences, but the women firefighters are not even 2% yet. There are only 42 in the fire department of the Generalitat de Catalunya and six in Barcelona. It is probably the best example that jobs still have gender, masculinized or feminized professions according to sexist stereotypes deeply rooted. “This is how the journalist Albert Segura began his speech in the radio debate about the existence of professions for men and women held at the Sant Boi de Llobregat fire station.
The director and co-founder of Educaweb, Montserrat Oliveras, the firefighters Mercè López and Cecília Egea, the sociologist and researcher in gender and ICT at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Lídia Arroyo, and the professor of Social Anthropology participated in this gathering. from the Rovira i Virgili University (URV), Jordi Roca.
The discussion has begun with the particular case of female firefighters, who have highlighted the difficulties in accessing a highly masculinized profession. López, deputy inspector and chief of the fire department, has acknowledged that “the vast majority of women who become firefighters are because they have someone they know inside.” For his part, Egea explained that, despite having the support of his environment, he could not avoid hearing questions such as “¿¿but that’s not a guy thing? “
During the exercise of the profession, the two have agreed that they have not had problems with their male counterparts and have very much enjoyed their work, although they have acknowledged the existence of institutional and mental difficulties. That is why they urge the youngest to do what they like, regardless of whether they hear that it is a profession for men or women.
Something similar happens in the case of men. During the radio program they have heard testimonials from midwives, makeup artists and waiters, who have explained how they are confused with doctors when they are accompanied by women, how boys feel more comfortable when a girl does their makeup or how some doubt their effectiveness and ability to take care of details, respectively.
Horizontal segregation and vertical segregation
The professor of Social Anthropology at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV), Jordi Roca, has ensured that gender segregation occurs both horizontally and vertically. In the first case, women are concentrated in narrow professions, since “when they have gone out into the productive sphere, they reproduce what they did in the domestic sphere: nurses, teachers, cleaning women… On the other hand, there is vertical segregation, since women normally occupy the lowest echelons of the professional ladder.
The sociologist and researcher in gender and ICT at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Lídia Arroyo, has highlighted the weight of educational and social conditioning factors, such as the fact that there are no female references in educational books or in the media or that feminized professions lack the prestige that masculinized ones possess.
Academic and Career Guidance Comes “Too Late”
The academic and professional guidance counselor, Montserrat Oliveras, has pointed out other causes, such as the fact that academic and professional guidance, which is basically addressed in Secondary, arrives “too late.” The director of Educaweb has cited a study that shows that at 5 or 6 years old girls flee from professions that require brilliant minds, a fact that, in her opinion, demonstrates the importance of working on self-knowledge from an early age.
Women also tend to suffer from imposter syndrome, which leads them to not feel capable of achieving their goal, they do not value what they do, they believe they have made a mistake or that they have not achieved it, added the counselor.
This would also explain why the girls choose certain families of Vocational Training, such as personal image, health and clothing, Oliveras has exemplified.
The director and founder of Educaweb, has concluded her speech highlighting the importance of put in value the academic and professional orientation to face the conditioning factors family, social, academic, personal and work, among others.
If you want to listen to the entire program, don’t miss the podcast of the Solidaris de Catalunya Ràdio program.
And if you want to know more about the conditions that influence when choosing a degree and a profession, don’t miss our section on the subject.