Explaining Men's Entry into Female-Concentrated Occupations: Issues of Masculinity and Social Class


*Manchester Metropolitan University, Postgraduate Office, Aytoun Building, Aytoun St, Manchester UK M1 3GH, e-mail: b.lupton@mmu.ac.uk


This article seeks to add to an understanding of why some men enter female-concentrated occupations (and why the majority do not). Drawing on the results of in-depth interviews with 27 men in a range of occupations, I illustrate and interpret the complex and often contradictory ways in which men approach the notion of working in female-concentrated occupations and examine the impact that this has on their occupational outcomes. The data suggest that different attitudes to female-concentrated work cannot in themselves explain men's presence there. Consequently I explore, with particular reference to social class, the context in which attitudes around gender, work and occupational destinations, are framed. I conclude that men's entry to female-concentrated occupations may best be approached, not as an issue of ‘masculinity’ but as one of social mobility operating within a gendered labour market.