Jun 13 2010

Blamer Brain Trust Alert: Blamer seeks non-soul-crushing employment

Today’s cry for help is from one of our more prolific and incisive blamers, but I forgot to ask if I could use her real name, so until she outs herself she’s Blamer X.

Dear Twisty,

I just got out of a soul crushing HR meeting where I raised concern about the bosses of our department being 2/3 men despite men making up like 45% of the department, and that the women who have been promoted have worked there for ages in order to get that far (in between complaints about individual dudes and the crap they say/do). They explained to me the equally applied and straightforward nature of hiring and promotion (yeah, sure), and assured me that I cannot know who was really the best candidate because I wasn’t there during the meetings. I also should not be afraid for my job (ha!). Their job is to lie to me about the consequences of reporting a bunch of people who have authority over me, and I doubt much of anything will happen. I am looking for a new job.

Anyway, I know that the circumstances I reported are common at many work places. I want to know if there are blamer suggestions for finding a job that isn’t filled with this kind of BS. Are there any notoriously female industries or jobs that aren’t totally shitty and underpaid?

Blamer X

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dear Blamer X,

Although spinster auntly expertise is global, my own work history (see my absurd CV on the About Twisty page) compels me to reveal that I am no authority on notoriously female industries or jobs that aren’t totally shitty and underpaid. In fact, as far as I have been able to determine, there are no notoriously female industries, only dude industries that are notorious for exploiting a female workforce.

I might suggest bartending in a dyke bar. These little hellholes are always owned by women. Bartending money is petty good, and the sexual harassment would originate with women, making it somewhat more palatable on accounta the built-in sex-based power differential, often imitated but never duplicated, has no precise analog amongst the ladies.

However, I realize that dispensing booze to partying lesbians until 2 or 3 in the morning — especially if karaoke is involved — may not be your idea of a swell time. Lesbians are not automatically feminists, nor are they famous, as a class, for their good taste in music. Also, there is no health insurance.

Therefore I’m putting it up to the Blametariat.


So what’s the word, girls? Does Blamer X’s dream job exist?


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  1. Tigs

    What? You want not-misogynist, not-totally-shitty and not-underpaid?
    Just who do you think you are missy?

    I’ve come to the point that if you can reduce your chosen profession to just one of the three, you’re probably doing the best you can expect pre-revolution.
    Lard, it’s depressing typed out like that.

  2. Unree

    No industry or sector gives you refuge from the patriarchy, but I have a notion. If I’m wrong other blamers can correct me:


    You get paid based on the revenue you bring in rather on how much the bosses tolerate you around the office. So the dudes can’t move the goalposts as easily–‘you can’t know who was the best candidate because you weren’t at the meetings,’ yeah right–or tell you that you really aren’t much when you outperform them. Of course they’ll say you used unfair lady-wiles, or played the grandmother card, or manipulated dyke power, or whatever, to close the deal, but they can’t do anything about it.

  3. shopstewardess

    Such is the nature of the patriarchy that even female-predominant occupations tend to have a majority of white, heterosexual, able-bodied men in charge. There is no safe space for women away from the authority of men. Plus, as noted by Blamer X, female-predominant occupations pay less well than their male equivalents.

    I work in the public sector, and spend part of my work-time working as an elected union official. So I’m not unbiased, but would still recommend either the public sector or a trades union as a place of work. In my experience the public sector is slightly less awful than the private sector, as it is usually easier to shame it into complying with legal requirements. And some trades unions (pick the right one) at least play lip-service to notions of equality. The problem with any trades union activity is of course that when helping members you constantly see the full awfulness of the patriarchy at work. (I suspect this will be true of pretty much any social enterprise-type work.) The benefit, providing you can cope with the ongoing stream of crap, is that you get to tell the patriarchy the truth, and even occasionally win a small victory against it.

    Though I can’t get away from men in my working life and still earn a decent living, I’ve found that staying away from them in my private life has helped me to cope.

  4. janicen

    I’d like to work somewhere where I can get all of the benefits dudes get. I want to be overpaid for my qualifications and get regular promotions just because of my dudliness and because I go drinking and golfing with the boss and spend hours during my workday creating a sports betting pool in which all of my dude mates can participate. I’d like to get all of the best travel assignments and never have anyone question my expenses. I’d like to be able to wear comfortable shoes and slacks and never have anyone critique my wardrobe. I’d like to receive massive bonuses even though I haven’t done a damned thing to earn them, and the people who work under me get nothing because, “These are hard times.” I’d like to take time off whenever I want, to attend my kids school and sports events and have people swoon over what a good parent I am but when others do the same thing, they will be denied promotions and raises because their family life is interfering with their work.

    Just for one year, just to see what it feels like.

  5. Vera

    I don’t have much advice to offer, I’m afraid. My career history is filled with horror stories. I planned a career in government until, as a 20-year-old intern in a congressman’s office, the office manager shut me in a supplies closet and forbade me to come out unless I promised to show my legs (all in good fun, of course!). He also thought it made sense for the male interns to attend committee hearings on the congressman’s behalf while the “girls” mailed form letters to constituents. As a political science graduate student (in the 70s) I found that the all-male faculty was charmed to finally admit a few women to the program, but would not actually work with any of us. I moved to Silicon Valley where high tech lured me away from political science. I thought the private sector would reward me for performance irrespective of my femaleness–what a hoot! In my middle age I have settled for a decent salary as an “individual contributor” because even if the powers-that-be wanted to promote me, I don’t think I could function as a manager in the industry. While I’m able to remember, each day, that I’m merely renting my brain to someone who will pay me for it, I can’t actually give them my soul as well.

    After all these years I have only a single insight: there’s more protection against misogyny in a large corporation that enforces the rules (no downloading of porn, gender-neutral language in official documents, etc.) than in small startup companies, including open source-oriented startups full of nice guys and progressives who think feminism is right-on as long as it’s the fun kind.

  6. Alexa

    Set up your own business? Or work from home? What about going into academia – English departments are full of inspirational women. Everyone seems to really respect the women lecturers. Or you could teach gender studies?Or write?

    Get together enough to live on – then become the best known, craziest feminist activist. (My plan hehe).

  7. yttik

    Uhg, this is the most depressing post ever. Underpaid? Hell, 80% of women’s work isn’t even paid at all.

    The best job I’ve had was waitressing. Several things made it more enjoyable then the job I was educated and trained to do. For one, there is no chance of advancement, no lies about equality and fairness. And of course, making a few grand a month in tips was useful. But the best part was pulling back the veil and learning where you stand as a woman in society. That’s who we worked with, the dregs of society. Our dishwasher had a college degree, but she was female and over 50, making her damn near unemployable. Our cook was paid less and would never be called a chef because she didn’t have a penis. She was still the best chef we ever had. Males were always overpaid and called chef-consultants, managers, or efficiency experts, even though they never did any of the actual work, in fact, most of the time they hindered it. Women are a commodity, plain and simple, that’s what the short skirt and ruffled panties are all about. There are no illusions about where you stand when you work in a restaurant.

    Waitressing saved my life, mostly because I’m the kind of person that can’t handle bullshit. Don’t tell me I’ve got equality and how we’re all part of a team here and then ask me to make the coffee, clean the bathrooms, and write a grant because my boss is like, you know, illiterate.

  8. janna

    I work in a female-dominated industry (indeed I have exactly 0 male coworkers, and my boss is also female). But my job is extremely overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. I am a public elementary school teacher. But (in my state, at least) it’s very easy to get into, provided you have a college degree in anything, and are willing to be even more underpaid for the first year and work six-day weeks for the first two months.

  9. Ciccina

    Here comes some bad news: I’ve spent the better part of 20 years working for organizations of the feminist persuasion. Most of my former bosses are women. I’m sorry to say this- really, I am – but some were really horrible people. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Some people — no matter how smart they are, how good they are at what they do, how they describe their ideological/political beliefs, or how they perceive themselves — should never, ever, ever be put in charge of another human being. Period. This type of power brings out the crazy in people who might otherwise appear perfectly reasonable.

    2. HR is never your friend. Assume every word you say to HR will be reported back at the highest levels of the organization. HR is not a grand jury or independent non-partisan commission empowered to seek truth and justice. It is a department of employees answering to the same head of the company you do. And if the boss thinks there are “problems” with employees, HR looks bad. If there are no problems with employees, the boss thinks HR is doing a good job. Know that when you bring your problem to HR, you create a problem of a different nature for HR – a problem HR wants to go away as quickly as possible.

    3. Listen to your gut during interviews. If the gut tells you “there’s something ‘off’ about this prospective boss,” LISTEN to the gut.

    4. Some female bosses and coworkers are totally sexist, no matter how loudly they proclaim the opposite. Racist, classist too And some male bosses and coworkers can be really fair and supportive. Its pretty much a crap shoot.

    I don’t think the sector or industry you work in is as important as understanding your own personality and what kind of things annoy you in a supervisor. If you get a firm grip on what kind of management styles you like and dislike, you can ask questions while interviewing that might give you insight into what to expect (refer back to #3).

    An acquaintance told me that if he’s interviewed in the prospective supervisor’s office, he tries to spot whether there are family/personal life photos on the desk or wall. His thinking is that he doesn’t want to work for someone who doesn’t have a personal life, because a boss who spends his/her whole life in the office will expect the same of his/her employee. I don’t know if this is useful advice or not – just passing it on.

  10. Ashley

    Yeah. I would say set up your own business. I throw myself in the middle of a sexist work environment every day and see how little emotional reaction I can have. I’m purposefully desensitizing myself so I can handle more crap with more strength. You could always tell yourself you’re doing something like that.


  11. Ciccina

    One more thing given some of the comments above – I can’t stress this enough – female bosses, including female bosses who think of themselves as progressive, can be plenty sexist. I had one who basically required all her female employees to participate in “girly” type shopping trips with her when we’d travel somewhere to attend a meeting (if you didn’t join in she acted like you’d spit in her face), while the male employees were free to stay behind and network with other attendees. She also demanded female employees wear suits every day (male employees were free to dress casually) because, she insisted, we “wouldn’t be taken seriously if we didn’t dress up” (this was not a real problem in this workplace, or rather, she was the only person who had that problem). (This was this decade, fyi). Another female boss, also progressive, demanded female staff wear suits with skirts to official functions – pantsuits weren’t proper enough (this was in the ’90s). I’ve been in plenty of meetings where self-proclaimed feminists have presumed male consultants and job candidates are competent because they ‘look the part,’ and I’ve seen them extend preference to male experts when putting together panels and publications because, they say, “a white-haired guy talking about women’s issues will be taken more seriously than the media.”


  12. Jodie

    I went back to school at 40 for a nursing degree and have never regretted it. There are a fairly wide range of jobs one can do (it’s not just hospital based), and some jobs (like mine) are almost entirely autonomous. And it pays decently. You’ll never get rich, but (at least at this point in time) you can always work. If one job stinks, there’s another one just around the corner. And no one seems to care if you have dozens of jobs on your resume.

    Yes, some female-dominated workplaces are full of gossip and ickiness; and some of the older MDs are still bastions of sexism. And some jobs are physically demanding (not all, though; plenty of nurses in their 70s still working). But those things are not true of every workplace.

  13. Urban

    I’m afraid I have no useful suggestions. You already know you’re not alone, but for the sake of information, I want to report that in my place of employment, the staff are 36% male but make up 75% of the management team. Until last week management was 100% male and had been for three months.

    What’s amazing is that I work for a human rights NGO. I raised the clear gender imbalance in writing, because there was a wide open opportunity and I couldn’t resist. I was ignored. I followed up verbally, whereupon I received the “well, what are we supposed to do? If men are the best candidates then it would be discriminatory not to employ them just to balance the management team” response. Yes, I too wanted to heave the heavy stapler at that piece of ill-informed overtly sexist mansplainin’. I need a job, so I refrained from pointing out that this is a gender imbalance of such gargantuan magnitude, in an organisation supposedly focussed on equality, that it ought to inspire debilitating shame.

    Human rights NGOs aren’t the place you’re looking for either, if my experience is anything to go by.

    I would also give my vote to the public sector. I’ve worked in two countries for multiple public sector organisations and although they still have a long way to go they did seem to be trying harder and doing better.

  14. Panic

    Well it sure isn’t publishing.

  15. arfeuse

    Hey Blamer X, well done for even going there at work – but yes, probably a little job-hunting is in order. If you’re in the UK then working for the NHS is a good bet – you don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse, there are a million other roles including administrative where you really can make a difference to people’s lives, and as someone pointed out upstream, they do have at least non-misogyny policies which the media love topoint out if they don’t stick to. Oh hang on – you said you didn’t want to work in a totally underpaid sector? Damn. Yes it appears one must choose between evils if one is slatted rather than horned. (I’m not being rude, it’s a quote from ?Euripides – well, some ancient greek dude who wasn’t a total douchebag – “Neither horned nor slatted, but a twilight of the genders” – I long for a twilight of the genders, don’t you, Blametariat?)

  16. Molly

    Working in a library was the best job I ever had. The pay stunk, but as shopstewardess said, the public sector is a lot more sensitive than the private to pressure both from the public and from the employee base. A few months after I started, the people in my position got a raise as a response to complaints about our payscale, which started just above minimum wage and took a long time to progress upward since most of us worked part-time. Of course, it was notoriously hard to fire someone from a library job once they’d passed the 90-day probation period, so there were some pretty eccentric characters there (like the nudist lady who couldn’t stop talking about how she liked to spend her weekends, or the historical reenactor who would sometimes wear her costumes to work, or the dude with no social skills who got 10 calls a day from his equally-odd wife), but they were mostly the variety-is-the-spice-of-life kind of eccentric rather than the could-possibly-be-a-serial-killer kind of eccentric. It may be that my experience was atypical, but my supervisors were all women and they were very accomodating of their employees’ family and personal obligations and always willing to be flexible to allow employees to take care of non-work things. There were the inevitable office politics, but they were much milder than the “real” offices I’d worked at, and in general my experience was very positive.

  17. Historiann

    Academia is not the answer, even in the fluffily-pinkified girlie (or gayboy/lesbo) refuges of the lit departments or art history, because 1) there are no jobs, and 2) the few jobs there are exist in the real world. Universities hand out tickets to the middle class, and the real world wouldn’t entrust that responsibility to a “liberal” institution.

    Ditto the comments above about not trusting HR, which works for the company and not for the employees. There are no industries that are great for women, but there may be pockets in any given industry where you can function and even be happy some of the time. Look for those. And as Ciccinia said above, listen to your gut. If you’re uncomfortable during an interview, there’s little chance that it will get better when you’re employed there.

  18. ItTakesAVillage__People

    If you have a good eye for vintage collectibles, don’t mind getting up and at ’em at 5 am to go to estate sales, you can sell on eBay or at flea markets.

    This is great for someone who is self motivated and independent minded.

    It is relatively a small investment, and the return can mostly be tax free and stress free and most importantly, dick free.

    As your sales increase along with your knowledge, you can eventually rent space in antique malls and make some decent cash.

  19. Marianne

    “While I’m able to remember, each day, that I’m merely renting my brain to someone who will pay me for it, I can’t actually give them my soul as well.”

    I think Vera cuts to the heart of the matter here. There is no workplace that is safe from the patriarchy and that is not a problem you can solve. Well, not a problem you can solve right now anyway. The problem is describing anything about your employment as “soul crushing.” A place that “rents your brain” as Vera so rightly put it, should never have the slightest hold on your soul. I would recommend putting your spiritual house in order, whatever that means for you, and working on boundaries in every aspect of your life.

  20. veganrampage

    There was a comment on Zuska’s site about court reporting.

    Very few are trained in this profession. One can dress fairly casually, the pay is great, and everyone is afraid to say “boo” to the court reporter becasue no one else can do that job. Naturally the proceedings cannot proceed without the reporter.

    This skill carries over to closed captioning, which I have heard more than once pays well.

    Am off to scour the Zuska’s for that comment now.

    Caveat: Learning how to become a court reporter is hard, and probably expensive though this was not referenced, but it sounds better as a life plan than certain jackass cretins who go back to school and study, oh- playwriting for example.

    Hidee ho!

  21. buttercup

    Not-misogynist, not-totally-shitty and not-underpaid. If I could get two out of three I’d be happy. There are some good suggestions, nursing and teaching, but you have to have the right education for both of those and the business of paying your bills often interferes with the procurement of said education. Look for a union gig, if you can, and if you can tolerate bureaucracy at all, a government gig with union representation might get you two out of three. That’s what I do (welfare casework) and it has plenty of shitty moments and it doesn’t pay fantastically, but my soul is mostly intact and I can pay my bills.

    Good luck, Blamer X, whatever happens.

  22. nails

    It was me. Thanks for the compliment, Twisty.

    So, for right now I am working in a hospital. It is like the ultimate illustrative model of employment oppression. Just sit in the cafeteria at lunch at one some time. Everyone walks around with their uniform. The doctors are mostly white dudes, the nurses and cna’s are mostly white women (cnas are like 4x more likely to be from a different country though), the lab is full of young college white dudes and white moms, and the cleaning crew is nothing but people of color, mostly women. Ditto cafeteria workers. I reported some asshole for saying that native americans could get ahead if they just worked hard enough, but this douchenozzle is so delusional that he said we have ‘the best health care system in the world’ to a room full of people who regularly watch poor people show up with atrocious injuries and conditions, who were just wishing that it would go away on its own so that they didn’t have to get into debt by seeing a doctor. So I doubt that it ever dawned on him that there is a system in place that keeps people in their place. Part of why I reported him is because he is going to be a PA some day, and will no doubt subject the nurses below him to this stupid bullshit 24/7. I don’t care if they fire me anymore.

    I think part of the problem is being in Utah. The culture here mandates that dudes get promoted after they get married (which they do really damn early compared to most of the US), so they can start making vessels for the spirit babies that Heavenly Father doled out to em in the pre-existence. If they don’t start making as many as possible their kids might be born to *gasp* single moms or in a foreign country!!! Mormons are so fucking fucked up, seriously. THAT is the bullshit reason guys get ahead here. Anyone who doesn’t believe me should rent “Saturday’s Warrior”.

    Anyway, I found out that one of my freakishly qualified friends got passed over a third time like a month ago (I was only aware of the first two when I went to hr). Out of 3 possible promotions she was passed over for a dude from outside the company, and 2 dudes who had already had one promotion and had started after her. They replaced those guys with dudes. It is screwed up. I am going to take a trip over to her neck of the woods and talk about suing the living shit out of the company.

    I think I might make stuff out of garbage and sell it. I am pretty good at this kind of thing. I have furnished my homestead with much needed garbage receptacles made of a stack of awful CDs I found long ago, duct tape, hot glue, and paint. They are pretty cool. I heard that there are a bunch of people who make stuff out of garbage and sell it here. It is soothing and it lowers my guilt about living in America, being unable to avoid all the waste that comes with purchasing basic necessities. Bar tending at a lesbian bar never crossed my mind, but it does seem like a viable option. I will look into it.

    I was also thinking if I could get into doing piercing and tattoos (I know the safety/blood borne pathogens/sterile technique shit already, and I am a decent artist) maybe I could round up The Chick from all the shops and start one, free of misogyny. The bullshit they put up with in tattoo shops is crazy. I would have to brave sexist tattoo shop dudes to even do this in the first place though, so I don’t know if it will flesh out.

    I tried looking for an abortion clinic or a planned parenthood or something. Anyone ever work there? I am unconcerned about the safety risk.

    Thank you everyone.

  23. no fun

    For sales and other so-called “eat-what-you-kill” jobs, it’s tempting to believe that the pay structure will enhance the meritocratic aspects of the job and improve the situation for women. But I don’t think this usually ends up working out — in particular, you’re going to be selling to people who, on the whole, have bought into current social norms and who will favor male (or beauty-compliant female) salespeople. Additionally, most high paying sales jobs are either selling luxury goods or business-to-business products. If you go the B2B route, a good old boys network can be pretty advantageous and will give male employees a free leg up.

    I think the other risk is that when you go with sales style compensation, you’re basically saying the organization cares about sales outcomes and sales outcomes only. At that point, rockstar performers have carte blanche to harass everyone around them. Their behavior only matters to the organization if it impacts their ability to sell.

    The finance industry kind of goes along those lines. Its pay structures use the eat what you kill model and individual performance is both visible and rewarded, but it’s got to be one of the most sexist industries I’ve heard of. There are stories of a major bank (recently) allowing the head of a trading group to keep a dildo in his desk and hit female employees on the ass with it as they walked past. Hedge funds regularly host clients at strip clubs. Goldman’s currently fighting a (credible) lawsuit over whether it fired a female VP for using its maternity leave.

  24. Mujery Legs

    Don’t report sex-based crimes to the patriarchy. Reporting sex crimes to the police results in no benefit to you: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/nyregion/03rapeside.html

    Reporting equal opportunity issues to HR is no better, so you shouldn’t report sexual harassment at work either: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2006/11/02/dont-report-sexual-harassment-in-most-cases.

    Know how to combat the sexist cognitive bias that you can internalize because you live in the oppressors’ culture, so you have a better hope of really performing well despite the bullshit stacked against you (which can get quite distracting): http://www.reducingstereotypethreat.org.

    Knowing how the deck is rigged is the best way to know how to fight it. Don’t waste your time working for small victories you’re not going to get. Work for the revolution, and enjoy your tacos in the meantime. (We masses get opiates, right?) Anyone have change for a three-cent piece?

    Good luck and lots of love.

  25. Melanie

    If you can type (and live near a relay center) but can’t do much else, you can work as a TTY relay operator. With the new regulations I would imagine that most of the scammers (which is what made me quit) are gone, making it a relatively easy job where you know you are helping people out. The good parts are college reimbursements as long as you work full-time and never having to speak to any of your co-workers. The downsides are sitting in front of a computer for ten hours (seriously, you have to raise your hand to ask to pee) and absolutely no union talk in the break room.

  26. Katy

    Now that I’ve left my previous career, publishing (which, yes re: the Penguin lawsuit, and also yes, really underpaid, and also yes, run by men but work done by women), I’ve been researching the library job market. It seems librarians are both being churned out of schools at really high numbers and (the ones currently employed) not planning on retiring any time soon. The ones who participate on the various listservs I read are happy in their work, but they all, public and academic sector alike, are worried about the coming glut of newly-minted MLIS grads, and also the omnipresent budget cuts.

  27. nails

    “The problem is describing anything about your employment as “soul crushing.” ”

    It is though.

    I combed through our department’s finances. Supplies made up like half of one percent of the costs, and we have a freakish amount of highly paid managers who don’t seem to really do much of anything. They come up with some “improvement” periodically so they look like they are working, and it is always crap that just makes our job harder (dear god, two of the “successful” projects have made certain parts of my job much more difficult). Meanwhile, we all get in trouble when we create over time and are getting paid like 1/18th of what they charge for our services an hour. They hire US and get all the benefits despite not pulling in the money. They can tell me what I should look like, how I should solve problems and react to any given situation, what I can or cannot do outside of work, who has authority over me, who I should work with and when, and there are not any real protections for me against this. It is a horrible system that I want to do something about. Knowing I am just one person being screwed over is part of what makes it so depressing, it happens everywhere. Talking with HR was so saddening in part because of the persistent need of the representative to deny reality, and expect me to as well. It was surreal.

    I really disliked the tone of your post. I am not over reacting, this system is a big serious problem that needs to be corrected somehow. The idea that renting my brain out is supposed to NOT bother me is the opposite of my principles. My labor has a real value that I am denied, as well as everyone else who is doing the labor with me. I am not a machine and my brain isn’t rentable. My work is important and when they screw up promotions or make my job harder to do it means people SUFFER as a result. Hell, they already do. We are discouraged from using “expensive” needles that prevent some kinds of pain associated with drawing blood.

  28. katipo

    Nails – gross. Sorry.

    I volunteered at a Planned Parenthood for a few months, and ended up making a documentary about the women who worked there. It seems like a decent environment, filled with women. They complain about “drama” sometimes, but that’s pretty much the worst of it, other than the protesters, risk of violence, and sometimes very long days.

    Most people who work there have a story about their own abortions. Three of them told me their thought process at the time – “Those other women are sluts, but my situation is different…” that kind of thing. But they’re all working at an abortion clinic now, so something must have changed, and the kind of empathy I saw in that clinic was pretty phenomenal.

    HOWEVER, if you’re looking for a lesbian-friendly environment, this is not necessarily the place. Remember, these are all hetero-women, helping hetero-women with their hetero-problems. When I worked there, I passed as a straight woman, and although I never saw any blatant anti-gay activity going down, it was definitely a more conservative environment than I would have expected. That was a Texan abortion clinic, though. You might have a different experience elsewhere. Good luck.

  29. sargassosea

    Aw, Nails, we knew it was you all along!

    My experience is that when you get to the point where you say “I don’t care if they fire me any more.” then you’ve done made the jump, because, you know, if you keep up with that pesky agitatin‘ they WILL (constructively, anyway) fire you.

    Also – some of my most favorite people in the world are bartenders at lesbian bars. Of course.

  30. yttik

    “I think part of the problem is being in Utah.”

    Probably, but I’m not sure there is a safe haven to be found anywhere. As some people have pointed out you can work for a female run organization dedicated to human rights and still find yourself trapped in patriarchy.

    Seriously, sometimes I find it easier to deal with places like Utah. Here on the liberal West coast it’s almost worse to find the same old crap because it’s disguised better and just makes you think you’re losing your mind. Your perpetrators simply declare themselves to be feminists and progressives and go right on being the same old dicks you might find in Utah. They’re just vegan dicks over here.

  31. Judi

    My computer seems to have invented time travel, all by its little self. Here we are, the creme de la very creme of radical feminists, brainstorming with our bold and massively awesome brains about the best career choices for women, and we come up with–nursing? teaching little children? working in the library? stenography? sales? Is it still 19-fucking-10? This is the same little handful of disrespected, underpaid jobs which were considered respectable for ladies 100 years ago. Will we ever move on? Has so little really changed? Oh, the despair.

    But no, I don’t have any better ideas.

    I do not mean by this comment to disparage the excellent and important professional work of nurses, teachers, librarians or court reporters. Or to belittle or mock the thoughtful suggestions of the Blametariat. The problem lies with reality. Yes, it fucks reality. Trying to imagine a woman working in a job that is not foul with soul-sucking misogyny blows more brain fuses than trying to understand string theory. We are trying to imagine something that does not exist.

    This has been a depressing and maddening little thought experiment.

  32. Ashley

    “I think I might make stuff out of garbage and sell it. I am pretty good at this kind of thing.”

    Badass mini-coup on the patriarchy if you can make a living at it! That’s really cool.

  33. Ashley

    p.s. in California, if you moved here, rich yuppies would totally buy your garbage-stuff as long as you market it right. Slap a “green” sticker on it and get a stand at one of our art and wine festivals and get you an apartment on the coast.

  34. Ashley

    p.p.s I’m shutting the piehole but I just saw the “vegan dicks” comment.


  35. FemUhNist

    The nonprofit sector is usually comprised mostly of women. The pay is a bit lower than for profit companies, but they almost always have stellar medical and other benefits. Social services are often run by, somewhat crazy, but progressive (sometimes even feminist) women.
    Social workers include case managers (with a college degree) or LCSWs (with a master’s degree). LCSWs can work for themselves as therapists too, meaning no coworkers or evil bosses! Either way social workers are required to be egalitarian by their code of ethics so they should not be sexist.

  36. pandechion

    Skimmed the comments because the baby’s about to wake up, but wanted to suggest government work, if you can get it. Whoever said upthread that bigger corporations have an edge because they have a lot of anti-discrimination regs in place– that’s doubly true for the federal government, where I work.

    And because you’re on a GS schedule, like the military, your raises come like clockwork, unless someone actively stops then, which is exceedingly rare. And everyone knows exactly what everyone else makes, which cuts down on the back-stabbing and job-grabbing, since it’s pretty much impossible to grab someone else’s piece of the pie.

    On the other hand, I’m in IT, which is still a dude bastion. And while the dudes are pleasant, some of them are pigheadedly ignorant. Double standard about the ways childcare affects your hours, a pin-up calendar openly displayed, not a single female manager.

  37. liberality

    As most everyone has already stated here so eloquently, there are no great paying jobs out here for most women. I work in a library. My boss is female, my co-workers are female. There are only 3 guys working in our entire county system. The pay sucks of course but I’m around women and books and push book reading and I enjoy that. I would like to earn more money of course and every chance I get I ask for a raise. However, I am mindful of the fact that states are cutting budgets and schools and libraries are good candidates for budget cuts. In fact, some libraries and lots of schools have already had their budgets cut in this state, which really sucks.

  38. Mujery Legs

    Oh, wow. Hospitals are the single most hierarchical institution in the U.S., with the possible exception of military services.

    It’s bad everywhere else, but not as bad as where you are right now.

    Every job essentially is highly exploitative, and that sucks. It’s also terrible for individuals’ creative expression and productivity, which is strangely anti-capitalist, unless you figure that capitalist societies are really about domination and not “productivity.”

    Which is a totally fancypants way of saying I am digging the free-range dumpster-diving artist ethic. Cheers from the peanut gallery, nails.

  39. Amananta


  40. ew_nc

    Unfortunately, the pink collar is still quite pink. IBTP.

  41. angie

    Work for yourself, it is the only way but in this economy I’m not optimistic of the “decent wage” you are seeking. I’m an attorney and out of law school I went to work for a big prestigious firm. Huge mistake — I worked like a slave, nights and weekends, for four years and after 9/11 when business dropped I was the associate cut while the dude next to me (who belonged to the same frat as the managing partner and went golfing with him) stayed even though he had half the billable hours I did. I wasn’t totally surprised, in the four years I was there none of the male partners or associates even once asked mento lunch (although many of them went to lunch as a group regularly). I got myself another position at a smaller firm (still steeped in the patriarchy but more tolerable as they were less smug about it), and bided my time for another year until I had the money to start my own practice. Sure, I still have to deal with the courts, judges and oppossing counsel (usually dudes) but I take the clients I want, work the hours I want, and make the money I want. And I don’t have to worry about some fratboy having my livelyhood in his pigish fists.

  42. Jenni

    How about tax prep? It can be taken to various firms or done as a self-owned business. It’s not really hard to get certified with the IRS, and these days with all the programs it’s even easier to actually do the job from day to day. Although I am an accountant you do not have to be to either qualify as a preparer or to understand taxes well enough to pass the test. It’s not notoriously female and I wouldn’t call the pay anything to write home about but the nature of the business gives you a certain amount of autonomy. My male clients do not care how I look- at least not openly in a way I notice- they only care that I get them a larger refund than the guy they had last year. If you do the effort you can even parlay your tax clients into monthly bookkeeping clients.

    A friend of mine does Avon. I know- moan- but it has stayed steady even through this screwed up economy we’ve had. And it is very female centered, she has been quite happy at it as she is a social butterfly anyway. I wouldn’t recommend it for people who aren’t good with people.

  43. Jill

    Avon. They make money off femininity and women’s guilt and insecurity, right? By selling carcinogenic products, right? And sponsoring asinine “Run For The Cure” events that sentimentalize breast cancer, right?

  44. Cactus Sally

    In her interview on the Big Think website, phenomenal poker play Annie Duke points out that her job as a professional poker player is not subjected to a glass ceiling or a pay disparity based on gender; it has everything to do with her skill and strategy. She can’t be hired or fired by any of the guys she competes with and they are not setting her salary. Having said that; she admits she works in a very hostile environment. She says guys think that because she chose to sit down with them in “their world” it’s okay to be blatantly and crudely hostile. She acknowledges that for most women this type of environment would be very detrimental but in her case it actually works to her advantage because she’s very focused on what her goals are. She doesn’t worry about whether or not she is liked or if they are going to be mean to her. She says that when men at the table have negative reactions to her, she feels like it works to her advantage because that means they are emotionally wrapped up in her existence and they don’t play well. She doesn’t question whether their conduct is inappropriate (she knows it is) and doesn’t look at their behavior as a statement of who she is. Their behavior makes it easier for her to take their money. The rules of poker say don’t get emotionally invested in anything that happens at the table so she tries to leverage their behavior to her advantage.

    I don’t know if I could pull it off the way Annie Duke does.

    I do think there are enough cooperative women in this country that could pull off a coup of sorts. Beginning with a very slow, subtle pushback, and ending up where we want to be. Not unlike boiling a frog* by starting with cool water and slowly turning up the heat. Collect a few closeted skeletons, indiscreet photos and proof of other bad behavior and then use that power for good. [insert evil laugh here] Naturally we would start with a pitcher or two of Margs.

    *no frogs were harmed in the making of this metaphor.

  45. Jodie

    One of my friends is trying to start up a glass recycling business. I don’t know if that will work where you are, but she has high hopes.

  46. joy

    I’ve done trade work. It sucks a lot. (Sexual harassment, having to work ten times harder just to prove you’re as good at doing the things you’re already as good as if not better than the men who are also doing them, tools being made for man-sized hands, etc.)

    However, when I was blacksmithing, the other apprentice of the farrier I worked under was also female, and older (in her 40s-50s), and fed up with male shit. I was eighteen at the time and not a radical feminist, but it stands to reason that if you found other women and banded together you could, potentially, start a woman-run and -operated business.

    Now I’m unemployed and on social security disability (due to PTSD). I gotta say, if you can make any kind of government benefits work (it’s tough; my current roommates don’t understand that my government paycheck is MY PAYCHECK, not a supplement to another paycheck, so they literally make me fork it over to them; I’m trying to get out and not get into that same situation elsewhere) — it’s amazing. Not having to work for someone else, living simply but resourcefully … You could start your own garden or build a sod-house or something (more and more absurd, I know, but hey, remember that this is a person who did once live in an eco-van), and learn valuable woman-helping skills with your free time.

    Of course, that last suggestion only really works if you grew up in poverty and are used to (what most westerners would consider) extremely low standards of living.

  47. joy

    Also, re, etsy work:

    Done that too, it can be sweet. But then you become what other poorer people such as myself refer to as The Dreaded Reseller: the person who comes and takes our cool clothes and fun housewares from under us at rock-bottom prices and sells them to yuppies at prices we cannot afford.

    I live in NYC, and trying to even modestly furnish my apartment with things that fit my taste (I like ’70s avocado green, okay?) and replace my ex-violence-ruined wardrobe with things that fit my body to my liking (ie, not P2K-compliant but not so much the other way as to invite homophobic street harassment, o the least shitty shit sandwich dilemma) was a torturous task. I lost many a teapot and acceptable (not too short, not too sexy, but not too “ugly”) pair of shorts to fucking hipsters crooning, “We can make a KILL-ING off this!”

    Am I not allowed a low-priced avocado-colored coffee mug simply because I am poor? Has it gone to a better cause paying for some trust-fund brat to buy more PBR, as opposed to serving as a much-appreciated, aesthetically pleasing vessel for my morning java? Sigh.

    Also, there is now no market for one like me to make a legitimate living off streetside art vending or vintage reselling in NY, as trust fundies have filled those niches as well. You will probably not find this problem in Utah, though, and can maybe even sell your garbage-creations on Etsy.
    It IS true, yuppies will buy practically anything if a market is created for it.

  48. mir

    nails, if you haven’t already have a look at etsy.com, yeah? Starting your own shop is easy peasy (I’ve heard) and even if it takes a while to start making real dough it might really help your heart to create/sell your own work no matter your day job. If it becomes enough to support you so you can step sideways out of the soul-crushing place you’re in now so much the better.

    And a female-owned & staffed tattoo/piercing shop sounds like fucking heaven to me. If the tattoo-getting demographic where you live would support it I really, really love this idea.

    No matter how it turns out I’m so very glad you’ve got the Blametariat as a resource and hopefully a little solace. You’re not alone, and I hope you don’t feel too lonely.

  49. BigMommaLes

    i’ve worked for 15yrs in the public sector, working with homeless people, mostly in residential settings. i started off working in a women’s refuge which was obviously all women and collective in its style of management. i then shifted over into an all women’s hostel, again all women staff but traditional management. i then worked for a couple of years with rough sleeping alcoholic men, my boss was a woman and it was a traditional management set-up. i left that and went back to working in all women’s hostel, staffed by all women and traditional management. when we emigrated to Australia i took some time off to recharge my batteries and have recently returned to work, working to support people to maintain their tenancies or help them through the rehousing process. this time it’s a mixed gender setting and my boss for a first time is a man. the pay is pretty good and has been throughout all the years of my employment, the hours have varied in their suitability depending on my personal situation. the management set ups have varied in their suitability mostly due to personal styles from my overwhelmingly female bosses. i have not encountered any pressure to conform to expectations of female appearance. i love my job. i can highly recommend it. i get to meet and work with a varied and interesting client group, i don’t experience overt discrimination and i am supported and encouraged to progress. i think i’m lucky and that’s a shame.

  50. Emily WK

    I am going to second non-profit. I work for a huge non-profit where from my boss to the top (which is five levels as I’m a peon), it’s all women. Most of the people in my department are women. The pay isn’t amazing, but it’s pretty good and there’s that whole fun warm fuzzy feeling from doing something to make the world a better place.

  51. janicen

    Nails, I also love the idea of an all female tattoo parlor. You would be your own boss and provide jobs for other women while you are making a living using your creativity and talent. It sounds wonderful. I don’t know too much about Utah, but I wonder if a tattoo parlor would succeed, unless you live near the border of one of the neighboring states. I hope you do start your own business. It sounds like you are much too good for your current employer.

  52. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    Nails! Utah! Oh you poor dear! I cannot imagine a worse place to try to be a feminist. In this country, anyway.

    Oh, wait. Georgia, maybe.

    I’m self-employed. The money’s not great any more, thanks to managed care and the economy sucking in general, and if I had benefits, I’d have to pay for ’em myself, obviously, but even here in Georgia I put up with zero (read that again–zero!) sexism. Which is not to say that some of my clients are not enlightened yet–most aren’t–but then I get to have the fun of starting to plant seeds, don’t I?

    At least, I get zero in-my-face sexism. My caseload is self-selecting: Clients who don’t want to work with a woman go elsewhere. Ditto the guff about my disability: Clients who don’t want to work with a gimp go elsewhere as well. But women, even in private practice, in my profession do make less than the men.

    I think this is partly because patients are willing to pay a man an outrageous fee, and partly because most of our clients are women and often can’t afford an outrageous fee. Then there’s the whole dealio where the guys in this profession, being guys, are on the whole more likely to have all the advantages and privileges attending thereunto–better schools, better internships, better book deals, and so forth. So their c.v.s look like they are worth a bigger fee.

    So the Pat still gets us, albeit more indirectly. Be that as it may, I like it. It’s a good gig. You do get paid for doing what you wanted to do anyway, and you get to make a big damn difference in people’s lives. Every day.

    While getting another degree (and trust me, grad school is sexist. I’ll never forget the shock of learning that the doods in my Analytic classes were playing golf with the professor) may not be in your plans, at least do consider self-employment in some form.

    In the first place, you are doing the work you want to do, so soul-killing is completely off the table. In the second, the near-total control–over your schedule, your work, your clientele, your peers–is awesome to behold. I actually find it hard to leave the office at the end of the day, even though I love home, too.

    And as far as your present situation, there must be other hospitals, while you consider your options. My son was in Grady Memorial in Atlanta a few summers ago, and it was awesome: Most of the execs there are people of color. The unit he was on (neuro ICU) was run completely and exclusively by women of color as far as I could tell (don’t know about the Medical Director). The nurses, docs, security cops, and para-pros I met wherever I went on campus were nearly all either African-American, African, or Caribbean.

    There must be other places like Grady where, whatever their HR or sexism environments are like, at least aren’t bastions of Whiteness.

  53. Unree

    Seconding Mujery Legs that hospitals, at least in the US, harbor the very worst of the patriarchy. A toxic soup of pseudo-science, HR bureaucracy, racism, credential-fetishes, bullying, vulnerability, and big bucks. I promise you, nails, that the next sector of the economy you work in will be less heinous.

  54. Mortisha

    Part time farmer who sells to farmers market and other places like restaurants. Sorry no pot of gold, but for me it is a good blend of earth, sky, nature, animals, alone time and human contact. Part time because we had a horrendous drought for quite a few years. Self sufficiency was possible, but I needed cash, so teaching organic and environmentally friendly farming via a government organisation.

    If you want a little road trip to test the waters try googling the organisation WOOFERS. They list a whole stack of organic farms in every country around the world where you can stay for a few weeks including board, food, etc in exchange for helping out on the farm each day.

    Caveat. You will still find patriarchal bullshit in alternate farming. Surprise!
    More open minded people for sure, but there is always some loud mouth tool mansplaining away. And the WOO wankers can be out in force . Organic farming CAN be done scientifically and very efficiently, without the weird arse sparkly fairy dust. If people want to dance around naked under the midnight moon, well go for it. I prefer a nice red wine in front of the fire. The vegies grow on anyhow no matter what the delusional humans do in their spare time.

    opps started to rant.

  55. pickerel

    Yes, cooking in a fish camp in the Yukon. If you’re not skilled in that, it’s easy to pick up. Tech schools offer two year “Red Badge” chef papers, or there’s Cordon Bleu if you can finance it. Eventually, setting up your own bistro in a ski or holiday area. I leaned recently about a woman from Newfoundland taking an online cooking/chef course sponsored by the NFLD/Labrador government. She was in her 50s, had a lifetimes’s practical experience for church banquets for 150 plus and the like in her small outport community. Once she graduated she read the ads, applied and flew north, fare there and return paid, made over $3K a month in salary (accommodation, food etc) cooking whatever the Duluth dentists ordered in a fully equipped fly-in camp, massive tips from the boys who apparently, had never tasted home cooking. At the end of the season, they begged her to come back next summer, and upped her wages. For five months work, and possibly fall, when the dentists come to hunt. She doesn’t work the rest of the year, back in NFLD. It can be done.

  56. simone

    Make goat cheese in Vermont. The world needs more goat cheese, and you could conceivably do it on your own.

  57. Larkspur

    Oh, nails. It sounds like you are at the point where you are ready to take big risks, like venturing into self-employment and non-traditional income generating schemes. If you are not really at that point, I second the notion of court reporting. If you have a talent for it, you’ll always work. For a while, years ago, people were thinking it wasn’t such a good bet because probably testimony was going to be recorded or video-ed, but it seems that nothing is quite so trust-worthy as a notarized transcription, complete with “ums” and “ahems”. (Just say no to paralegal training. Big mistake. In difficult times, actual lawyers are happy to do paralegal-type work, and employers are happy to treat them as temps.)

    I also know a woman who became a pharmacist. She never really had a career position, she just traveled around doing relief work for when other pharmacists were on vacation or maternity leave. Then she’d take off for Bali for a few months. Then back for another pharmacy gig. She was able to distance herself from the institutional hierarchy that way, at least a little.

    We should also look at Utah’s strengths. A woman-owned tattoo parlor? Genius, especially if your expertise was in flowers and pretty things, done small and somewhat discreetly. Young adult Mormons have a powerful need to rebel, but without burning down the house. Tattoos provided by a wholesome woman-type person could totally work.

    The other main Utah thing is recreation. It’s seasonal, for sure, and uncertain, but there’s money there, from park visits to skiing to horseback riding. And spas! Rich people go to spas. It is helpful to be located in the vicinity of rich people. Jill, I know Avon is ghastly. So is most of what we produce with our labor. If nails became THE go-to waxologist at one or more spas, she could get a following. Rich people who want things waxed have even been known to fly a trusted waxologist to wherever their waxable thing is currently located.

  58. Backdrafty

    Well, it’s not utopia, but I’ll third or fifth or whatever the whole small business thing. I was a freelance grant writer for ten years, and seldom had to take shit – of the P variety or otherwise.

    Here’s the biggest tip – wait, no, PAIR of tips – I can give you. First, if you go into the field, do your best to specialize in health care or education: believe it or not, that’s where you’ll make money, because that’s where the federal competitions are fiercest. Second, when setting your fees, if the amount isn’t so high you’re embarrassed to say it, you’re probably not asking for enough. You potential. Client will decide you are too cheap to be any good.

    Just don’t expect the Patriarchy to go away.

  59. Hector B.

    What about going into academia – English departments are full of inspirational women. Everyone seems to really respect the women lecturers.

    If watching males skate to the top is bothersome, academia is not necessarily the best career field. The university I’m most familiar with is notorious for denying women tenure. Lecturers last the longest, paradoxically because they’re not on the “up or out” tenure track. (Teaching two classes is full-time work for a professor, but only part-time for a lecturer — you can imagine the pay disparity.) And while libraries I’m familiar with have mostly women professionals, the management ranks tend to be male-heavy.

  60. Backdrafty

    Argh, stoopid itouch. It’s more useful for me, but dang it’s hard to hit the right keys. Sorry for posting offensive levels of bad grammar and typing in that last sentence.

  61. Blind Horse

    Believe it or not, I fared pretty well as a construction project manager. While not entirely misogyny-free, I was treated by the tradesmen and other supervisors much better than I am treated in my current office job as a much higher-ranking business manager.

    Still, there is the need to establish credentials on each new job. If I had a dime for each time I was asked “so, how long you been doing this?” I’d have retired already. The correct answer to the above question is “it’s my 2nd day, how’m I doing so far?”. However once you’ve been in the industry for a couple few years, most everyone knows you or has heard of you and the novelty has worn off and you can proceed as a human. You’ll know this milestone has been achieved when they swear in front of you and don’t apologize for it.

  62. Bushfire

    I’ve only ever worked in jobs that were mostly female. I’ve worked in retail, as a laborer in a greenhouse that grows decorative plants, and as a teacher. I often had all women working around me and female supervisors. Of course, retail and labor are underpaid and without benefits, and teaching is massively stressful and full of Dominant Culture. One thing that isn’t too bad is being an ESL teacher. This is usually one on one with the student, and tends to pay well if you have certification. (That’s in Canada. I have no idea what the ESL situation is in Utah). The next thing I’m trying to do is become a translator. This field is mostly women, too, but I haven’t had a job in it yet. I’m really hoping that someday in the future I’ll be able to make a living translating freelance. Then I will move to the country and cultivate a garden and try to live seperate from the patriarchy, as much as possible.

    Good luck on your journey, nails. If you do find a female-friendly good paying job, let us know.

  63. ElizaN

    Nails, there’s a tattoo and piercing place in my town run by two RN’s, and it’s really successful. Here’s their website, if you’d like to check them out:

  64. janna

    You don’t have to move to Vermont to make goat cheese. I live in metro Denver and there’s a goat dairy farm 10 mins north of me. I’m sure Utah needs goat cheese, too.

  65. Rebecca

    Regardless of how much people may like their jobs in that area, non-profits are NOT the place to be looking for jobs right now. I have been looking for about 8 months, despite being overqualified for most of the jobs I apply for, and am still stuck in a non-profit job that pays about 1/5th what I could have been earning had I graduated before the economic meltdown, plus I have a boss who is incompetent and co-workers who range from lazy to incompetent to abusive.

    The problem right now is that EVERYONE is getting tons of applications for any job that comes open, so they really can pick and choose only amongst the candidates that perfectly fit their requirements. Sorry. It’s pretty bleak. It’s not the time to be looking for a job. I wouldn’t even consider quitting to look for a job, but you could apply for some things while you are still working, if that’s a possibility.

  66. raf

    Just coming out of the woodwork to give my advice. nails asked if anyone knew about working at an abortion clinic. I strongly recommend finding a feminist clinic to work at. Of course, it’s not perfect — there’s still people who don’t do their full share of the work, office politics about who gets along with the boss and who doesn’t, and an unenlightened remark here or there, sadly. But it does help a lot that the organization and staff are at least striving to be anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic/heterosexist, anti-classist, anti-ableist, anti-ageist. This is only based on my experience working at one such clinic, but I do get the same vibe from other similar ones too.

    Plus it’s fucking fun. >90% of my coworkers are fun, funny people. It’s nice that they’re mostly women, though there are a couple dudes (at the moment, one trans and two cis), and it’s nice that there’s every shade of the rainbow when it comes to sexual orientation, and it’s nice that it’s fairly diverse racially and ethnically, and it’s nice that we take pride in the number of languages staff can provide services in at a given time… Also, wicked sense of humor (you need it if you know there are people calling you babykillers) and no such thing as TMI.

    Then again, the pay is not great. When I worked there full-time, I lived pretty comfortably for someone who doesn’t have extravagant tastes, but it was very hard to put anything aside from my paycheck. I certainly couldn’t have afforded to go back to school without the help from my parents, sadly.

    I’m not sure where you’d find a feminist clinic in Utah, but if you’re at all considering a move, here’s a good place to start: http://www.feministnetwork.org/

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, and good luck!

  67. raf

    (Also, the clinic has a donor insemination program that initially catered to the shit-upon markets of lesbian couples and single women, and a wellness program for trans men [which has gotten pressure to expand to trans women as well, but they don’t have the resources to expand anything right now], and other things that edge us closer to comprehensive health care, so that also takes away from the “heterosolutions for heteroproblems” tendency. Yay.)

  68. raf

    (Not that all problem pregnancies are, in fact, heteroproblems. Just for the record. OK enough from me tonight.)

  69. Occasional lurker

    I second the suggestions about working in the trades — but avoid any industry that has a traditional female ghetto. In many ways, you’re better off in a traditionally male occupation, such as heavy construction, even if you’re the only woman on the job, because there’s no pink ancillary occupational box they can put you in (i.e., semi-skilled “helper” or “support” worker assisting the god-like journeymen.)

    If everyone starts out as an apprentice, and ends up a journeyman provided they work X number of years (usually four) and complete X amount of training, go for it if the work interests you. That is the normal situation in the building trades, provided you are in a union. (Avoid the laborer’s union, however; because the work is considered unskilled and semi-skilled, there’s no requirement to train apprentices in all areas, and women generally get stuck pushing a broom or holding a sign all day.)

    If, on the other hand, the workplace has a small number of skilled workers (machine operators, for example), and a lot of “helpers” who just happen to be female (because women are sooo much more patient and don’t mind repetitive tasks they way men do, just look at Betsy, she’s been sealing boxes here for 40 years), don’t bother. That situation is more common in manufacturing.

  70. Earnest O'Nest

    You could try to find a company that doesn’t have this HR-thing, i.e. which does not have the insult of this female-dominated department which invariably has a dude boss. Or, you could try to be self-employed.

    Self-employed it is then ;-(

  71. Miss Andrist

    My suggestion is to do what I do (or some similar variant) – be a web developer.

    This may sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out. First, amongst actual developers, it really is a meritocracy because a minuscule fraction of the people who claim they can do the job actually have the skills. Developers are expensive because we’re so hard to find. Thus, teams of developers are the exception, not the rule. Headhunters will be indifferent to your sex when recruiting you; lead developers may register surprise but in the end, it will be the office / project manager that rejects you for failure to conform with peen expectations. Management within a development team is always flat – everybody is an expert at what they do, whether or not the skill sets overlap. Because the skill set is so hard to find, a certain rock star attitude is tolerated from developers – what are they gonna do? Fire me? And replace me with who? We have a deadline and I code faster when I’m comfortable so codemonkey wear comfy jeans and if manager doesn’t like it, codemonkey think maybe manager wanna write goddamn login page himself?

    Sexism gets you in different ways. Expect to freak out the office manager by having a vag while writing code (this blows their minds, male / female alike.) You will be paid dramatically less than your male peers because you code while having a vag. You will still be paid stupid amounts of money, but you will either earn ~50-75% what you should or you will have a hard time getting jobs for no apparent reason. You might have to explain that you don’t participate in “beer Friday” because one beer for you is like three for them since you’re not male and you’re half their size. Etc. Developers != designers, mind you: web DESIGN is a completely different animal. The difference is: designers pick up markup, styling, Flash, and maybe javascript, and are generally Photoshop experts. It’s not uncommon for designers to hold a degree in visual communications or graphic design or some crap, even marketing sometimes. Developers do all of the above, but with are rarely experts with Photoshop; developers spend most of our time writing “real code,” aka scripting like PHP or ASP and database like MySQL or MSSQL or whatever. Ir’s a lot easier to be a designer – for one thing, you can just take a class. Designers are a lot easier to come by, so they don’t get paid nearly what developers do. Sexism: women are presumed to be more “naturally artistic” and less “naturally analytical” than men, so most of your non-male colleagues will be designers. Also, since women are supposed to be more “empathetic” and “cooperative” and all that happy horse-shit, most “relationship managers” or “client managers” will be women. The office manager will be a woman probably ~half the time, and she will be the highest-ranked non-male in the hierarchy.

    There’s a very good possibility you’ll do a lot of freelancing. The downside to freelancing is, it turns your bedroom into your office. No sick days, no staying home from work. The plus side is no commute, you can work at 3 am if you want, you can work in your pajamas, your swimsuit, your birthday suit if it pleases you to do so, and best of all, you cannot be discriminated against based upon your appearance. Caveat, some people have a misguided perception that telecommuting means no more daycare; be warned, if you are the primary caregiver of small children, you CAN NOT concentrate on code with a toddler around. Hell, it’s extremely difficult to code with a school-aged child around. The most embarrassing interruption possible will always happen in the middle of a crucial VoIP conference call, I promise you, and the fact that you are a non-male means these project managers silently semi-convinced you’re doing this as a replacement for childcare and you’ve got a passel of brats hanging off your leg, which means you’re billing them for daycare, not code. Fair? No. Sexist? Of course. Reality? Natch. Oh, and freelancing usually (not always) means a headhunter (“talent agency”) located and solicited you, and manages your interactions with whatever company is hiring your services. Unlike usual staffing situations, there is absolutely no misunderstanding about who works for whom; companies hire agencies to find qualified developers because developers are hard to find, not because they need a glut of warm bodies.

    So why isn’t everybody doing it? I won’t lie to you: the learning curve is a sonofabitch. That stated, IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. I taught myself everything I know. The most highly prized skills (PHP + MySQL) are extremely rare within formal college instruction, but ~70-80% of all the websites out there run ’em. Economic downturn? I haven’t felt a thing – headhunters haven’t stopped beating down my door.

    The silver lining is – all this stuff is open source, meaning COMPLETELY FREE. If you have a computer, you can set up EVERYTHING you need without shelling out. The internet abounds with resources to learn. (Check out w3schools or tizag for starters.)

    Filthy lucre: internships usually start around twelve an hour; “entry-level” or “junior” positions tend to run fifteen to twenty. Two years and a solid portfolio of completed projects, or a BSCS, puts you in the twenty-five – thirty-five range. It’s not uncommon for seasoned lead devs to pull 80-90K and grizzled veterans with multiple languages to command six figures (at that point it depends on how critical you are and what languages you bring to bear.) And a LOT of shops couldn’t give a crap about how much time you’ve invested as long as you can pass a coding test, and negotiations tend to start at 40K. But at least you’re getting paid to THINK.

    Summary –

    Plusses: very small labor pool, huge demand, high potential to sidestep some portion of the sex-based discrimination in the workplace, forced respect from possessing an irreplaceable skill set. Minuses: the sex-based discrimination you cannot sidestep will be exacerbated by perception of your oddity, learning curve is discouraging.

    Hope that helps.

    -Miss Andrist

  72. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    It is far from perfect, but if you live near a NASA center (the DC area, southern AL/MS/FL, Houston), check out NASA Stars: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/NASAStars/transition.htm. Also, check out opportunities for working for contractors. The guv’mint and most big contracts have legal requirements in place for hiring/promoting women, and these are watched pretty closely Congressionally. I encourage you to check it out.

  73. speedbudget

    You guys all need to become court stenographers. It IS notoriously female-driven, and there is no HR shit. This job is predicated on a very hard skill to learn that only a few people know. You can be your own boss, run your own firm, work for a national firm (male-run and SUCKY for the most part, work for a small firm. You can work in court, freelance, as a service provider for the Deaf, deaf, and hard-of-hearing, closed captioner.

    If you can do the work, you have a job. I know. There is a person where I work who should have (and would have been anywhere else) fire long ago due to general flakiness and a lack of customer service skills, but she continues to have job security. There is a SHORTAGE is this field, a major one.

    As for pay, how does $200 an hour? You can make as much or more than all the lawyers in the room. I can show up for an afternoon job and walk out billing as much money as I need to pay my bills and buy food for that month. I’m not saying every job is like that, but most are.

    And who are the suckers who still work 9:00 to 5:00? I only do that when I’m writing a trial. Otherwise, it’s a 10:00 or a 2:00 or anywhere in between, with lots of time at home to work on transcripts and procrastinate.

    If anyone is interested, you can go to http://www.ncraonline.org. That is National Court Reporters Association website, and it’s how I found an accredited school and got cracking. It takes anywhere from two to three years to get your specialized associate’s degree.

    I will go up and read the thread now, but if you’re looking for female-centered with the income potential to be truly independent, look into stenography. And find yourself a woman-run firm, which is usually NOT the national craptastic firms who will cheat you out of your page rate anyway.

  74. Uppity

    My industry is a longstanding pink ghetto: sewn product manufacturing. Everyone below, around and immediately above me is female, and poorly paid. Owners are male, as are upper management, and cutters (who are the highest paid people on the factory floor, oh, the irony). I’ve worked freelance for the past few years, which has not been lucrative or fulfilling.

    Now, I’m looking into having a petting zoo. If I have to deal with horse shit, it might as well be actual horse shit. It’ll be great: a couple of miniture equines, some decoratively feathered poultry, some goats, and I’ve always wanted a zorse!

  75. Vinaigrette Girl

    Mediation is one way forward – it can take the form of anything from personal dispute resolution to international mediation, depending on your background, interests, linguistic capabilities. So also might be the more law-oriented route of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mediation will let you work in a variety of firms, or for yourself.

    Some people will try to treat you like dirt pretty much anywhere and a goodly proportion will do so because you are an ovarian and they are of the testicular persuasion or in hock to someone who is. However, training in mediation and ADR, or any of their related professions, will put you way ahead of them because you’ll have a good idea what they’re going to do well before they do it.

    HR in a private company exists to keep companies out of the courts, period. It’s not just that they answer to the CEO, it’s not simply personality emo stuff although it absolutely feels like that and may also be that; but their actual job is to try to keep you from taking the company to court, by fair means or foul, so to avoid the cost and adverse publicity that can arise even were you to lose.

  76. Jezebella

    Museums are generally pleasant places to work. They’re climate-controlled, aesthetically pleasing, and most of the staff are female. Naturally, most directors are male, and unfortunately nearly every museum director I’ve met is a megalomaniacal Giant Baby (male and female alike). The larger the org, the larger the ego. However, it’s not an “eat what you kill” environment, you’re contributing to the community, you can actually use your vacation time, and the pay is mediocre but the benefits and flexibility don’t suck.

    You don’t have to be a PhD art historian to work at a museum, either. There are science, community, history, children’s, house, anthropology, natural history, and art museums (and surely more I can’t think of). Accredited museums are subject to a pretty rigorous governance vetting, and ones with public funding tend to adhere pretty closely to their governance rules and employment laws. Museums are also highly dependent on good public opinion, so people who are giant assholes all the time don’t last long. (This does not, however, go for people who can keep the giant asshole behavior behind closed doors).

    Museums need more than just curators: they also need business managers, gift shop managers, educators, exhibit preparators, collections managers, event planners, membership and volunteer managers, grant writers, graphic designers, exhibit designers, publication managers, historians, programming directors, outreach coordinators, building supers, security guards, and librarians.

    Granted, the non-profit world, like the entire American economy, is short of jobs right now, but as the economy recovers so will non-profits.

    *Note that my experience in museums is all in the US. YMMV.

  77. Larkspur

    HR can serve an important function in administering employee-assistance programs, and in mediating disputes. But it’s easy for corporate overlords to ignore all the disasters HR has kept from happening. HR’s hold on its existence is tenuous at best. It is always very near the chopping block because the CEOs and their comrades basically think that anyone can do it, like maybe their secretary (WP and space-age telephone systems have freed up so much of her time).

    Any entity’s first job is to maintain itself, and its second job is to advance its own interests. HR is no exception. The employee is the weaker link.

    I think I have a point. Oh. Be careful about going into an HR job. Be careful that, already in your job, HR responsibilities don’t get pawned off on you without compensation. Remember that anything the overlords point to and say “That’s HR” really is HR. And remember that HR gets paid by the company, not by the employee.

    Also: I’ll bet little Jesus fish tattoos would sell in Utah.

  78. Jill

    I’ve always wanted a zorse!

    Noooooooooo! I’m begging you. Don’t do it.

  79. Jezebella

    Larkspur, you’re a genius! Xian tattoos for the godbag set? I have, somewhere, a stash of WWJD temporary tattoos (“what would jeebus do?”), which I alone find completely hilarious, but my point (and I think I have one) is that the new generation of hipster Mormons and “non-denominational” godbag kids would probably totally dig a discreet Jesus fish tattoo or the like. Throw down a sheet or two of Xian flash art and the tiny rebels will come toddling in, jacked up on Mountain Dew and a lifetime of sexual frustration, for their holy tatts.

  80. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Ever notice how almost everyone who’s got one on her/his car is a really rude driver?

  81. Tabby Watauga

    Another vote for health care. The organization I work for is 80% female. It still skews male at the top, but it’s close to 50-50. Jobs are well-paid, many are union, benefits are fab. I like in a notoriously bad area for job seekers, and a nurse friend had gainful employment in her chosen specialty in a month.

  82. sargassosea

    “… which I alone find completely hilarious”

    No, I agree that a WWJD temp tatt is completely hilarious.

    A permanent one though would be comedy of a divine nature.

  83. Tree

    My mother got a nursing degree for the reasons mentioned, but she eventually became a real estate appraiser, which gives a lot of independence even when you work as part of an agency, and being self-employed is fairly straight forward.

    I’m not sure if real estate appraising is gendered. I grew up assuming it was (since my mother and grandmother did it..) but most of the appraisers she currently shares office space with are men.

  84. hero

    Anecdote warning! (and then I’ll banish m’self)

    Antoinette: I saw a hilarity while I was driving in DC. A car with a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker was stopped at a light while I awaited the turn signal. The people in the car one lane over obviously loved Jesus, because they gesticulated and enthusiastically waved and honked, whereupon the driver of the stickered car flipped them off. I’m pretty sure that’s the gesture suggested in the Gospel of Matthew.

  85. Jenni

    Yes, Jill they do. But not all of us can afford to live our principles. Some of us need to eat and pay rent too. Principles are expensive.

  86. DenverFem

    I recommend self-employment. It’s the only way to be as free as possible from the patriarchy. You get to be in charge and choose everything. It is my largest regret–I often think I should never have become a teacher. Regret is wasted, however, so I try no to wallow in the crapulence of its stench.

  87. sargassosea

    Keeping firmly in mind that this is my Third (Fourth?) Strike comment:

    We all pay for our oppression with the parceling-out of our Principles.

  88. Larkspur

    Jezebella, you’ve got your Jesus fish tattoo, plus the Angel Moroni, the beehive, a Utah state symbol, endless pithy quotes from the Book of Mormon and the Bible, BYU iconography, a million font variants of “LDS”, maybe even some golden plates.

    And just maybe, once in a lifetime, someone would want a tattoo of the outlines of the Magic Underwear.

    Now, any Mormons reading this are gonna think I’m making fun of them. I am, but I make fun of all religions, so it’s nothing personal.

    And Jenni, I know. There’s never any time to rest. Every day you have to think about what you’re doing, how far you can compromise, the effects of your choices, what your core principles are, and yes, if you can make the rent this month. In re Avon, I can see and support selling the product, but the biggest moneymakers on Planet Avon are the ones who sign up countless downstream Avon ladies. So if one signs up new Avon workers, one had better be damn sure one has explained all the implications, and that great wealth and a Pink Cadillac is not a slam dunk. (Oh, wait. That’s Mary Kay.)

  89. procrastinatrix

    Hi, nails,

    First, good luck in the current situation, and finding a new one. Let me repost part of a comment I made in the “hanging chads” thread:

    “Finally, even though I work in a field that is supposedly majority female, the higher up one gets, the more old white guy it gets. I’ve been trying for years without success to get into a more feminist niche of this industry–they are out there but I don’t have the credentials yet to be part of them. Some days the dissonance is really painful. Those are the days I’m especially happy to see a new post or an active comment thread here.”

    This field is international health and development–working for non-profits. At least in this corner of the non-profit world, the decision makers are old white dudes and the money comes from old white dudes. Only the lower ranks are diverse and heavily female.

    I’m trying to become credentialed as a lactation consultant, where I can work one on one with women from across the economic spectrum and help them through one of the most difficult and wonderful experiences mothers can have. (note I don’t say women–totally cool with the non-motherhood option and long for the revolution to come when women really have a choice in that matter). Lactation consultants are increasingly in demand worldwide, and hoping to live and work at least part of the time outside the US.

    Doula-ing is another possibility.

  90. Margaret

    Ditto the advice to go for a union job. Women are paid better in union jobs, and it’s easier to keep the job because you can’t be fired arbitrarily. Better pay is still not equal pay. Some government employers in Canada were allowed to renege on paying women’s pay equity claims, not because the claims were bogus, but because they said they could not afford to pay fair wages to women. I blame the patriarchy for their assumption that only women do not need fair pay, and that men would continue to be paid their higher wages. I remember Newfoundland got away with this ridiculous argument. Anyway, union work has better security and better pay, and the difference is especially good for women who will earn significantly more than doing the same work without a union. The soul-destroying aspect varies, and you just never know what job will turn out to be decent. In that case, the people make a job tolerable. My favourite job turned out to be in the marketing department of a large company which I accepted reluctantly because I’d specifically told the agency “no marketing department, and a small company”. The least favourite was in natural resources, a field that was closer to my nature. The result was totally counterintuitive. The people made the difference. There was no way of telling at the interviews that the jobs would work out so differently than expected. It’s a crap shoot, eh?

  91. julybirthday

    Such a tough place to be! I agree with previous comments that once you reach the “go ahead, fire me” stage, you need to be somewhere else.

    My own way of getting as much of what I want without losing my mind has been trial & error. Three jobs in six years, and for now have settled into a job that’s in my area of expertise, witha company that has at least as much honest effort as it does corporate, patriarchal BS. Other departments are immensely screwed up, but mine is pretty great — my boss is a single mom and all my immediate coworkers are women, many working moms, so we’re all cool with the need to be flexible for doctor visits, school activities, etc. But I had to go through five years working with and for some real douchebags. The worst were the ones who see themselves as awesome liberals, because they’ll REALLY never get it. So for me, it wasn’t a job or an industry, but finding the right boss in the right company.

  92. Saphire

    No matter how a dude starts, he ends up earning enough to support two people. I’m sick of hearing about men straight out of high school with three promotions in as many months. Yuck.

    A good job would be to write a book as forceful, open and powerful as SCUM. We all have our work to do as the only sane people on this twisted planet! Especially as the only other feminists are worried about gaining respect and popularity from a patriarchy that hates us.

    Overall an outspoken radfem will contribute more to society, changing how fucked up it is, than any bloke who gets promoted six times and gets paid £70,000 an hour to talk about his penis size. This is the silver lining to the work of a radfem.
    Know it’s not paid or what you were talking about: How to get by/ earn peacefully in a patriarchy? We don’t!

  93. K

    How about working at an all-girls’ school? I graduated from one 20 years ago–just had my reunion last weekend–and the pro-female rhetoric, it is thick. I can’t say that they are a non-misogynistic employer since I have never had a job there, but I would trust them to at least squirm a lot if you pointed out that your 55%-women department had 66% male leaders.

    Perhaps it’s a variation on Twisty’s suggestion of a lesbian bar. But with–I think–health insurance.

    I know teaching is not for everyone, but keep in mind how many others they need besides teachers: cooks, coaches, fundraisers, choir director, librarian, groundskeepers, a controller or some such head of financial matters, security guards, plumbers, residential staff. (I think the residential staff get a small place to live in the dorms, all meals, and a small salary, in exchange for being on duty almost constantly, except for during the academic day. They generally seemed to have some other job for during the day. It’s not an easy life, but it works for some folks. Plus, 3 months off in the summer.)

  94. Tarr

    I am a wildlife biologist and an old broad, working in a southern state next to Texas. This couldn’t be more patriarchical. I have been the first female in every job I have had.

    1. When you don’t get the promotion, stew awhile, then figure out how to game the system. I got my employer to pay for training that I used for a second and lucrative job. (Note, the more I charged per hour, the better my clients admired my work).

    2. Eventually, you will be the boss. Revenge is sweet.

    3. Use female stereotypes to your advantage. Cultivate that non-sexy but beloved mom or favorite aunt schtick.

  95. Alexa

    ‘3. Use female stereotypes to your advantage. Cultivate that non-sexy but beloved mom or favorite aunt schtick.’

    Me no like this advice :(

  96. Charles Walker

    Have you looked at technical writing? I notice that people above have suggested grant-writing, translation, and web development, but there are a lot of straight (forgive the expression) technical writing jobs, from writing instruction leaflets for new electronic toys (the kind of things hetero males throw away at once, and then complain that the damn thing doesn’t make sense and/or is defective), to procedure manuals for hospitals, to anything that needs instructions.

    You need first an ability to sort out what information your readers need, second an ability to organize that information so it’s easy to find, and third an ability to write lucid, correct English fairly quickly. Clarity and straight forward writing are important, since many jobs involve writing for people with limited command of English such as non-native speakers, or for people who are severely lacking in common sense such as doctors or the general public.

    Most of my experience had been with small, heavily technical companies, and that part of the business skews male. But other fields do not – I think nationally about 60% of tech writers are female, and I think tech writing groups in large companies tend to have a higher proportion than that. Group management is often female, even in techy fields. I have heard some male tech writers in groups bellyache about the ‘excessively’ female atmospheres of their groups. Since I’m a gay man, I find heteros of any persuasion a bit odd, and I’m not clear what they were complaining about.

    You don’t have to be expert in the field you want to writer in, although a basic knowledge of the field is certainly helpful. For instance, in software documentation, you normally do not have to know how to write code, or what the algorithms used are. You do have to be able to figure out what the software’s users need to know to use the software effectively, what their most common tasks will be, and where they’re likely to go wrong (so you can explain them away from making those mistakes). With luck there will be information about some of this, but don’t expect it.

    Your job is often largely to elicit rantings from the Subject Matter Experts in order to boil them down (the rantings, not the SMEs, no matter how tempting that often is) into what the users need and to put it into reasonable English. Depending on the field, this may require intensive exposure to nerds with no social skills and primitive concepts of sexuality. Fortunately,the exposure’s usually short-term, and I believe in largish companies you can blow the whistle on them without serious repercussions to yourself. I haven’t had many problems with being out in this profession – though I had an evangelical woman manager try to fire me for having a photograph of my lover and me on my desk. I mentioned the corporate and the city anti-discrimination policies, said the magic word ‘lawsuit’, and that was the end of the threats.

    The problem you will run into is that many companies think of tech writers as typists with delusions of grandeur. Such companies are usually easy to spot – they pay badly. They also say things like “You won’t have to do much writing, out engineers usually produce good drafts”. (That is almost always false, by the way.) I don’t think this delusion is overtly sexist – I’m 6’2″, bearded, and generally pretty butch, and I get it. But I think it is probably the same in origin as the patronizing attitude many people show to teachers, so IBTP.

    I don’t know what the salary is for tech writers in your area is. It’s generally a decentish white-collar salary, though there are a significant number of companies that will try to low-ball the rate (see down two paragraphs) Starting rates aren’t great, but once you have a couple of projects behind you, it goes up pretty quickly. There are opportunities for free-lance, contract, and permanent positions. This is also one of the fields in which home officing is often possible, at least after you have established a rep. It’s also a field in which being able to move around might make it easier to get a contract.

    You might try looking up the Society for Technical Communication (STC) chapter for your area. They often run salary surveys and often are very useful for making contacts and learning the business. There are technical writing programs in many universities, but I didn’t go to one, and I don’t think having a certification is necessary in any part of the field.

    The job market isn’t great now, but I think it may be warming up. Hiring for tech writing jobs is often a leading indicator for the economy, I think, since documentation usually has to be done before a product ships, and tends to be the last part of a product developed. This also points to another issue about tech writing: some companies routinely put off hiring writers until the past possible moment and sometimes beyond. Thus some companies expect very long hours and some times blame tech writers for delaying a product launch even if the writers were handed an impossible schedule. Checking a company’s reputation for pulling such shit is a very good reason for becoming an STC member.

    I have mostly enjoyed tech writing as a career, though there have been times I haven’t(like verifying 70 pages of calculations that might be obsolete but nobody bothered to check or figuring what some German neologism that hasn’t hit the dictionaries yet is supposed to mean in English). But it’s often socially useful or neutral, and you can often avoid projects that you disagree with (I’ve been offered several military contracts, and have been able to turn all of them down.)

  97. niki

    Teaching ESL has been great for the self-employed and rewarding results factors. Perhaps not so great for the payment factors in many countries, but I hear China and Korea will drop benefits and housing and big money on native English speakers with CELTA or TEFL certificates. It’s certainly the best thing I’ve ever done for myself – haven’t had a boss since 2008, don’t plan to look back if I don’t have to!

  98. nails

    Thanks for your help everyone. I think I will try for a court reporter job, once I end up moving to portland. Utah doesn’t have an approved school. I type like 70 words a minute currently though (and learned 10 key myself), so I bet I have aptitude for it.

    I am going to scout interest for the chick tattoo shop in SLC, I am young enough to ruin my credit by trying to make such a thing work. I have support via my nigel, though it kinda chaps my hide to live off of him at all. I think I will just cause problems till I get fired, and make stuff in the mean time. I mean, I work 30 hours a week. I can make a lot of stuff when I am not there. I just got a screen printer for 200$ (holy shit). I will for sure look into etsy, thank you for the suggestion, everyone.

    I kinda took a piece of advice from all of you. Despite the disagreements about the science thing before, I think we do have a real community of solidarity here. I can’t thank you all enough. I have some hope now.

  99. nails

    Yes, Utah is exactly as bad as you all imagine it to be. I started a blog to complain about it.


  100. Ayla

    There’s pretty good money in growing certain recreational plants and fungi. The law might not like it, but a more honest and feminist-compatible job I have yet to find. No health insurance, but it pays the bills.

  101. FemmeForever

    This post was great in every way! Women helping women is a dream come true. I’m glad you found your answers, nails.

    Might I ask a related but slightly different question? It is my most vivid fantasy that there exists somewhere an employer who is searching high and low for a lady manager/leader who is impervious to male intimidation and so-called “charm”. Said employer is willing to pay oodles of dollars for these very rare skills. In other words, are there any niche employers, outside of feminist work, who will hire me BECAUSE OF my rad feminism (unstated as such) skills?

  102. Margo

    Start a business. Become a priest/nun/mendicant – whichever denomination suits you. Work in the nonprofit sector. Sure, the pay sucks, but people at least pay lip-service to feminism there, and you don’t have to cry yourself to sleep every night.

  103. Margo

    One more thought: Be some kind of artist! Specifically, the sort of artist who doesn’t give a rat’s hat about what art critics might deign to say about you.

    To summarize: Try to be Yoko Ono.

  104. speedbudget

    nails, if you have any questions or just want a mentor, please ask me! The more of us the better! You will lose your typing skills as you start learning to write the stenography. Don’t worry! It will come back! LOL

    Seriously though. Any questions, any misunderstandings, any help you need, just ask. It’s a weird situation when you’re in school happy cause you had a good fail on a test and you just wanna talk about it. LOL

  105. ItTakesAVillage__People

    “try to be Yoko Ono”

    Eeeee Gads!

    First she would need to turn into a groupy to a mediocre band who just happened to be geographically lucky.

  106. Bushfire

    “are there any niche employers, outside of feminist work, who will hire me BECAUSE OF my rad feminism (unstated as such) skills?”

    Director of a women’s shelter.

  107. Uppity

    No worries about the zorse. If one happens to cross my path, the wild thing is likely to kill me in punishment for not possessing the willpower to maintain better animal breeding ethics, and escape to freedom. I’ll have to assuage my interest in hybrids with an old-fashioned mule.

  108. SKM

    Nails, let us know if and when you start selling stuff. A garbage can made out of garbage? Brilliant! I’ll take two.

    I hope folks keep adding to this thread; it will serve as a resource for many blamers to come.

  109. Jezebella

    “Ittakesavillage”, you are SO SO SO SO wrong about Yoko Ono. She’s one of the most important conceptual artists of the last fifty years, and she was already one before she ever met John Lennon. In a century, she will still be in the art history survey texts, and people will be wondering who the Beatles were. She was never a groupie. Don’t mess with Yoko Ono, and don’t believe the Dude Hype about her, either. All that crap about her breaking up the Beatles is a bunch of misogynistic bullshit. Seriously.

  110. mir

    This thread blows my mind (but not my O lobe). The Blamer Brain Trust is truly something to behold.

    I wanted to add that in the last few years I’ve personally committed to women in a professional sense: when I’ve had a choice, every doctor I see/have seen is female. At my job every hiring decision I’ve been part of has been to hire/contract with a woman (when there was that option. Note to deep Blamer nerds: please write code! Or maybe cruise Craigslist tech gigs more? If I have to sit through one more coffee meeting with one more single white dood auditioning for a developer contract that pays obscenely I will tear my hair out).

    And if/when I’m in a position to do the hiring for my own endeavor I will exclusively hire women. Blamers preferred.

  111. ItTakesAVillage__People



  112. ivyleaves

    Also: “a mediocre band who just happened to be geographically lucky.”

    Actually, the band in question, mediocre or no, was the reason all of the other bands from their geographical area got lucky – even the Rolling Stones. The band may have been lucky, just not geographically so.

  113. ks

    My mother is a medical transcriptionist. If you’re a fast typer, you can make good money. You work from home, choose your own hours, and the training isn’t terribly expensive (or time-consuming). Good luck, whatever you do…

  114. otoc

    I’m working on it, mir. I must be doing something very wrong when I apply for web developer positions however because I can’t even get hired doing PSD to XHTML/CSS gigs. I was thinking it was because web design and web development are two of the top three most off-shored jobs in the most off-shored place (the Philippines) but now I’m wondering if it’s (in part) because of my vaginal coding style.

  115. KristinMH

    Good luck with the tat shop. If I’m ever in Utah I’ll come in and get a Darwin fish.

  116. Bushfire

    BTW, nails, where do you get the garbage for your art creations? My partner and I used to go around the streets in middle class neighbourhoods the night before garbage pick up to look at what they had thrown out. It was great fun because we found lots of stuff for our apartment (furniture, picture frames, etc). Just wondering if that’s what you do.

  117. lawbitch

    Don’t knock the beloved mom/aunt persona. People will trust you and tell you things that you otherwise wouldn’t know. I’ve had staff tell me all sorts of dirt on the boss.

  118. eb

    I have to take exception to Miss Andrist. Your snide remarks about web designers sounds more than a bit patriarchal to me. You exalt developers as ‘real’ coders who can do everything as opposed to designers – and anyone can be one of those.

    Perhaps an analogy would be you consider yourself a chef (male, penis work) while dismissing designers as merely cooks (female, vagina work).

    Isn’t this the type of crap women face in the workplace everywhere – if you don’t use your brain deemed superior by the patriarchy, what you do is crap and anyone can do it? Do you crush the souls of designers on a regular basis? Is soul crushing ok if you are the crusher? I guess so. Better to be the hammer than the nail.

    I took a little trip over to your website. Since the word ‘trial’ repeats in the background I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that this mediocre design is not indicative of your superior web dev/designer talent. It is a mystery to me, however, why you tout yourself as a web ‘chef’ when your site is in desperate need of a good ‘cook.’

  119. nails

    I got most of my crap from my last apartment. It is downtown and has really low rent. It is many people’s first apartment, the landlord is cool, and it is full of college students who think that someone really does want their old cd’s or movies. They do- that is how I got so many. I found like 2 of the CD’s listenable, but hey, no biggie.

    It is about as ‘down town” as SLC gets. I went behind michael’s (a craft shop like hobby lobby) to dive but they had one of those compactors specifically designed to keep people like me out. God forbid anyone fucking uses the things they throw out, right? Damn.

  120. Bushfire

    I’ve gotten stuff from apartments too. I used to live in a high rise surrounded by several other high rises and people would put old stuff in a section of the parking lot. It would then get picked over by other residents. It’s too bad more people don’t have swap meets with their used stuff. The middle and upper classes who purchases greenwashed consumer products would especially be wise to start having them. Anyway, nails, I reccomend you go out on garbage collection days in well-to-do neighbourhoods, because they throw out entire useful household items that one can swipe and reuse.

  121. xtinApdx

    People who know how to fix things are always in demand, especially now that people can’t replace everything at will. Getting the training (like apprenticing in the trades) is fraught with the peril of sexist asshats but many of the blue collar dudes I ran into were appreciative of skills once I learned them. Once trained, a craftswoman or journeywoman can write her own ticket. I too always hire women when I can, which is nearly always

  122. Jill

    First she would need to turn into a groupy to a mediocre band who just happened to be geographically lucky.

    Harshin on Yoko? Ouch.

  123. Jezebella

    Your Yoko link leads to 404 BUPKIS.

  124. Roving Thundercloud

    Nails: a hospital and Utah, the perfecta of crummy places to work. No wonder you’re feeling all ‘splody.

    Come to Portland, where we LOVE tattoos *and* handmade art! Seriously. We would eat you up with a spoon.

    I work at an independent school here in PDX–NOT as a teacher–and while the pay is not incredible, it’s not bad either. My team is all female and the top admin is all female too. Culturally it’s very good, relaxed, non-oppressive. Schools need all kinds of workers.

    Pharmacy relief/temp might work well for you–pharmas are always understaffed and need help, and you wouldn’t have to stick around long enough to catch whatever a given pharma’s problem is. I hear from a relative that it pays well.

    If you do etsy, take a look at regretsy.com first to see what NOT to make.

    P.S. This 5-part series on Yoko Ono made me think twice: http://thecurvature.com/2008/12/15/yoko-ono-a-feminist-analysis-introduction-oh-yoko/

  125. AnnieJ

    Nails – I feel for you. Hospitals ARE a soul-crushing microcosim of the patriarchy. I used to be a doctor in ob/gyn of all things, surrounded by women but oh-so-oppressed because of the cultural conditioning of all western-medicine institutions that are completely invested in impressing dudes in power.

    I found my healing place in feminst-rooted advocacy – I work now at a 10 women strong anti-violence crisis agency. It pays like shit but it’s livable and constantly striving to increase our compensation. There are even talks of unionizing (any advocates out there, who get VAWA and VOCA funding, who want to unionize?).

    Point is, if you are into the clerical/financial/organization side of things, our field always needs good people of that sort, because many of us are dreamy, passionate, people persons who need someone help us keep the data and the books.

    Also, New Hampshire-Vermont is very lesbo friendly – we’re totally out and proud, and some of us are even married, like, to other girls! But like Utah, we have mountains and lots of heartwarming nature crap.

    Good luck.

  126. zz

    I’ve a sneaking suspicion that you’re working for The Borg of healthcare in Utah, but I could be wrong.

    My gig in the accounting department at one of the non Borg hospitals is great. The men and women ratio is split evenly, and a quarter of us are gayer than bonnets in an Easter parade. There’s a good non mormon to mormon ratio, too. Only 1 is mildly annoying. Good gigs really can be found anywhere. You just have to keep looking a get a little lucky.

  127. Kali

    Nails, you might want to check out http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/C350a.pdf.

    It appears that being a computer scientist is best in terms of low gender wage gap as well as high pay. If you want to go back to school to specialize, I would suggest something like Bioinformatics (incidently, a term coined by a woman scientist!).

  128. Larkspur

    I keep thinking of tattoo possibilities. One of your specialties could be a medallion-shaped one, with the upper curve saying “Sealed For Time” and the lower one concluding “And All Eternity”, with the middle section containing the names and the date.

    You’ll probably also want to perfect your tattoo-neutralizing technique – you know, the big red circle and slash.

    Or a really specialized one that you’d probably never get asked for, except maybe by the child of a plural marriage who is both wayward and humorous (and perhaps bitter) that looks like those car-window family decals. It would show a Daddy Stick Figure, then a Mommy Stick Figure, then Another Mommy Stick Figure,etc.

  129. Jill

    Nails, would you favor us with an update if you ever get a non-sucky job?

  130. Fatima

    I work in clinical development for a biotech company. In my department, there are 10 directors at my level. 7 are women. At the next level, there are senior directorz. 2 are women. The VP to whom we all report is female (and younger than most of us). The other VPs, who report to the CEO, are about half male, half female. My team and I are well-paid.

  131. Melissa

    I can’t get over all these recommendations to go into teaching…. education is one of the most patriarchal inventions in our patriarchal culture! Our schools and curriculum, even the calendar, were designed to educate white males! Look at the hierarchy of any higher education institution. White men, as far as the eye can see! I will admit I see it more often than the average teacher, as I am a math teacher regularly subjected to the flipping open of eyelids and gasp of surprise that accompanies the announcement of an overweight white woman in her 40’s that she does that math thingy kind of good. “Oh, then you must be smart!” “uhnnn ya I talk good too.” You have to find the things about your job that matter… I can ignore the patriarchy most of the time because I get to inform classrooms full of developing minds that yes, anyone can do math. Even old fat women who live alone and read feminist blogs for fun.

  132. nails

    I will post an update if anything changes.

    Right now I am accumulating garbage and making things until they fire me for being rebellious. I still have health insurance through this place… if that was not a factor, I would totally be gone from there by now. We need single payer so damn badly here.

    I can’t wait to send my “I don’t give a fuck anymore” company wide email when I leave. I have it half way planned out. I always treasure the ones I have received at various jobs. I wish everyone had the freedom to be that honest about work all the time.

  133. K.A.

    I hope this thread never ends. Thanks to all the contributors; the more feedback, the better. Thanks for asking the question, Nails, and thanks for posting it, Jill/Twisty. It has been so helpful. Every thread I’ve seen about the tough hiring market for new grads is littered with dudes who, all by themselves, somehow manage to come up with the same clever blurb: “We would have been better off as prostitutes than going into debt for college.” Puke! Helpful, indeed.

    I wish I could add another solid choice to the mix, but my predominant worry has been the future sustainability of the profession I am forced to specialize in. Healthcare blows for women, but the hands-on aspect of it is seemingly recession and outsourcing-proof.

    I’ve got bupkis.

    I think we all should become playwrights that write farces about patriarchy and all its trappings. We would create a self-sustaining economy just seeing one another’s plays.

    Still working on the “food” part of that equation.

  134. DPirate

    Join a union, or better yet, start one. No security to be had otherwise, woman or man.

  135. anna

    Midwife. Women only, all women, men not allowed. It would be hard to be a midwife without also being a feminist. And midwives are well paid.

  136. nails

    I am planning on starting a union. That shit will get me canned for sure, but it will be a better place to work for everyone else after that.

    I have my follow up with HR tomorrow. If they don’t do anything then I am complaining to the EEOC.

    Wish me luck, everyone!

  137. shopstewardess

    Nails, I’m in the wrong country to give you much in the way of help, but I have found the following to be generally helpful.

    Injustice is enraging, but complaints about injustice usually get further if the emotion behind them is hidden. (There’s a WW2 poster in the UK which was prepared for public use in the case of invastion, “Keep calm and carry on”. It’s applicable to most situations, I find.)

    If you have documentation to verify what you are saying, make sure it’s in the hands of the people you are complaining to. Those in charge are less likely to dismiss documentation than words spoken by a woman, even if the content of the two is the same. If you don’t have documentation, it may be worth creating it – ie a sheet of paper on which you have extracted relevant statistics, an extract from relevant legislation or a statement from a relevant court case.

    Protect yourself, to the extent it’s possible, by ensuring that your managers and those to whom you are complaining can’t show that you have broken any rules of your employemnt.

    Good luck.

  138. nails

    We had a follow up today where they repeatedly tried to assure me that they actually did something in response to my complaint, when they didn’t really do anything. My administrators got retrained in hiring procedures (even though my complaint was one of BIAS not screwing up the procedures), and she produced a huge file (that I could not read) to show how much work they did. Then they insisted that I go to them with any further concerns about these issues. I think I scared em.

    The eeoc complain is going in today. My sister hipped me to something called adverse impact law, and the EEOC gives a shit about that kind of thing.

  139. Jill

    Excellent! Excellent!

  140. Keira

    Late comment. Trade union and advocacy work has some feminist up sides. Your colleages are mostly hairy women, the dress code is whatever-you-damn-well-like and you get paid to be professionally angry and encourage empowerment in others, which is nice.

    Not often paid well though, and as with every other part of the world, there are many sexist jerks around. One boss put compulsory work at 7am (no child care open at that time), some colleagues still think “sweetheart” is an appropriate co-worker reference, and there can be a lot of queerphobia, depending on which industry the union represents.

  141. wuyong

    Interesting NYT article from a while back on women bankers in India:

    “Banking may be more of a meritocracy than other professions, women in the business say, because there is an easy way to keep score: Look at the bottom line.
    “You got your next big challenge based on your performance and your potential, not whether you were male or female,” said Chanda Kochhar, chief executive of Icici Bank, where women make up 40 percent of the senior management. Mrs. Kochhar has been at the bank for her entire 25-year career, moving from corporate to retail banking, then directing the international business before becoming chief financial officer.
    Women “excel when they are subject to an open competition,” said Shyamala Gopinath, one of the Reserve Bank of India’s two female deputy governors. ”

    These women bring up a good point, I think. In a job where performance can be assessed relatively objectively, workers are more likely to be judged by performance rather than personal attributes. For women and others who are capable of excellent performance but tend to get shoved aside because of prejudice, these kinds of jobs might be a better bet.

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