BY KAREN ANN MONSY
With changing times, what was unthinkable yesterday has become a reality today. The proverbial glass ceiling, for example, is slowly becoming a thing of the past. But despite the fast pace at which barriers are being lifted, do some professions continue to limit their workforce to a pre-determined gender and no more?
Despite the differential treatment working professionals may face, with support from loved ones, many of them have successfully reached where they are today. Civil engineer Emma C Gumaroy from the Philippines couldn't agree more. She says: "My family has been supportive of me from the start. Whatever takes me to better opportunities is most welcome to them."
"I feel good and confident when everyone trusts me. When you design buildings and compute, say, the maximum capacity the beam can carry, you need to think and make decisions. Designing is not an easy task and it helps you prove that you are capable of doing complicated things."
The reason why civil engineering is primarily seen as a "guy's job" is because "the orientation of the job is more of technical and risky on-field work. In a landslide in my country three years ago that buried thousands of people alive, my company had to design houses for the survivors as part of disaster relief efforts. However, by my perception, I feel I can do any job men can do," she says, assertively.
This distinctive line between male and female existed even in engineering school where female students weren't allowed to conduct inspections on high-rise buildings. "The climate women face in engineering is no different from that faced by men. Since female engineers were rare then, there were usually better opportunities for them. I was given more attention and treated better than men."
During her 15 years of interacting with different people in the field, she hasn't personally had any problem communicating with people. "I've learnt that the key to a successful relationship is to be patient and considerate, for which my male colleagues admire me."
The student choice
All his life, Jithin Jaleel wanted to become a doctor. Studying in 11th grade at Indian High School, Dubai, he has been making his decisions accordingly in achieving that goal. Although he favours medicine for letting him "help people", nursing as a profession is out of the question. "If I couldn't be a doctor, I'd take up engineering but I wouldn't choose nursing." When probed further, his hesitation lasts a moment but the answer comes assuredly, "I do think anyone can take up any profession they wish to, but personally, I wouldn't consider nursing an option. Its scope for men is very less." And in saying so, Jithin has just voiced sentiments that are echoed by many of his peers who also stand at the junction of these career-making crossroads.
To a certain extent, one may be compelled to agree with him. Nursing has a comparatively lesser scope for men but that is not to say that the number of male nurses in the world amounts to zilch. Lesser in number, negative perceptions that the general public holds about them generally serves to douse out even little sparks that may exist in some men to follow a nursing career.
Samuel George, a nurse at the Jumeirah Prime Medical Centre, just loves what he does. Growing up in his native country Kenya where medical attention was scarce motivated him to join the nursing industry. Samuel puts down the primary grounds for the dearth of male nurses to poor understanding of the public. "We have only few male nurses because people don't appreciate its concept. Right from the time of Florence Nightingale, the assumption is that nursing is for women. The male population still feels it is more masculine to perform engineering jobs while nursing should be left to women."
Talk about swimming against the current, for Samuel does not agree with that notion. On the contrary, he labels nursing a "worthwhile job where you can see the fruit of your labour."
"Nursing involves the basic care of people. It's what I've always wanted to do. I have a heart for helping the sick and I feel good doing the work I do. It's not like other jobs where you're hidden behind some desk.
"Male nurses here feel discriminated against to a certain extent because more female nurses are in demand. It's almost impossible sometimes because one needs to know where to draw the line. Female patients are not comfortable even when we take their blood pressure, and we have to respect that."
To any enterprising young man who's considering nursing as an option, he warns: "This profession requires total determination and will power. Don't get into it just for the money but only if you really care about people." That aside, he is quick to welcome, "Come on aboard. Everyday you learn something new and this is a profession where you can actually grow."
With the clear success and personal satisfaction that these professionals get out of their work, the boundaries of gender could be drawn with chalk for all they mattered. Don't be afraid to take the bold step forward. In today's fast progressing world, impossible is nothing.
Source: Gulf Today