by Maria Vittone~

Without being conscious of it, we still make career decisions based partly on gender. If we do choose to break the gender mold, it is often a difficult decision that brings men and women up against social barriers that they may not have considered: male/female communication styles are different; unconscious bias and discrimination often exits; there could be a lack of support from family, friends, and society in general; and this is often accompanied by a lack of self-esteem.

Photo by henri meilhac on Unsplash

Because of these barriers, it is important to support those students who are breaking the gender mold. In my work for Hennepin Technical College and North Hennepin Community College, we are in the process of designing wrap-around services for our nontraditional students which will include a match with a professional mentor in their field, peer support groups, and supplemental professional career guidance. Check out these peer support group resources:

We are also working on updating and developing career self-assessments for both genders with the hope that this may broaden our student’s ideas of career choice. These self-assessments will determine a student’s interest level in a nontraditional career and then point them in the right direction to gather more information.

By understanding the pros, cons, and developing the interpersonal and professional skills needed to succeed in a nontraditional career, it is our hope that our students and future generations will have a wider array of career options and satisfying careers, with a greater earning potential than generations before them.

On a personal note, this position is an interesting crossroads for me when I think about being a career counselor and the daughter of a male nurse. My father went to nursing school in the early 1960’s. I recall so often having to convince people that, “No, I didn’t make a mistake; my Dad was not a doctor, he was a nurse.” Only 2.7% of nurses were male at that time. Currently, the percentage of male nurses is still shockingly low, at 9% despite 50 years passing. Continuing the family tradition of passing along the option of having a nontraditional career, my two daughters hear me talk, albeit ‘ad nauseum’, about my mission to make sure that they too consider all of their career options.

My go-to resource for current trends and ideas for increasing women’s representation in STEM is the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science.  (I stop everything to read their monthly newsletter!)

This is my most recent favorite article that showcases men in nursing.

Have you considered all your career options? Take the Career Assessment for Women to find out.

Maria is Nontraditional Student Support Consultant for Hennepin Technical and Community College and North Hennepin Community College, helping to encourage men and women who are pursuing a nontradtional career for their gender.