14 Fields in Desperate Need of Females

Fifty years ago, women may not have been able to picture the world as it is today. Women are no longer only allowed into a small number of fields and relegated to entry-level positions, but instead can rise to the top echelons of just about every career out there. Yet despite the great variety of options women enjoy when selecting a career, there are some fields where the gender ratio is still radically skewed. Many of these fields are actively looking to attract women and, as a college student, it may be wise to consider a career in some of them if they spark your interest. A wide range of career options and opportunities may be open to qualified women within them. Here we’ve chosen 14 of these fields, but they are truly just a sampling of the many fields where women can find new opportunities and pave the way for future workers.

  1. Agriculture: Farming, ranching and other forms of agriculture, like animal husbandry, have traditionally been male occupations in the United States (though women have played an integral role in tending farms since, well, agriculture has existed, and comprise about 41% of agriculturally workers globally) and still are today. Women only own 8.6% of farms, and while the number is growing, many of these farms are financially at risk – with over 80% reporting incomes of under $25,000. Traditional agricultural occupations, as well as those that are more high-tech, are in great need of female employees, making the field a smart choice for women interested in a science field with immediately practical applications. Idaho State University offers several agriculture workforce training programs that could help women get started in the industry.
  2. Forestry: When you think of forestry, you probably think of lumberjacks, mountain men, rough and tumble park rangers, and a dozen other masculine stereotypical figures — and there’s probably a good reason for that. The first women were not admitted to the U.S. Forest Service until WWII, when lack of male applicants opened up more job opportunities. While today, many women hold a variety of positions within the forest service, the field is still largely male-dominated. Only 10% of the total 18,000 professional forester members of the Society of American Foresters are women, only 26% of the U.S. Forest Service staff are women, and less than 7% of the senior executive officers are women. With urban areas encroaching on wildlife and environmental issues at the forefront in many areas around the nation, the profession could use women who are passionate about protecting and preserving America’s wild spaces. States such as Wyoming offer a number of job opportunities in this line of work.
  3. Electrician: Like many construction-related jobs, work as an electrician fails to attract many female applicants. Whether because of lingering gender prejudice or lack of recruiting women to the field, fewer than 2% of licensed electricians are women. While the job can be dangerous, it often pays well, and for women who would prefer to work with their hands it can be a highly rewarding career option. Master electrician and business owner Veronica Rose is one example, and is working hard to attract women to a field that many may never have considered as a possible option. Degrees in this subject are widely available to women as well; even Rhode Island’s colleges offer programs in the field.
  4. Engineering: Women comprise just a little over 12% of the total engineering workforce and in some fields, like electrical engineering, that number drops to 8%. While many more women are pursuing careers in engineering today than in years past, nearly all fields of engineering are heavily male dominated– something a study by the National Research Council revealed might be a cause for why women were reluctant to enter engineering careers. Yet today, the hostile work environments and boys’ clubs of engineering are largely a thing of the past, and women will find strong support and mentoring groups available to them. Despite the great push to bring women into engineering programs, few schools have female enrollment in engineering programs. Over 30%, something engineering groups, the government, and female engineering professionals are struggling to change. However, many excellent engineering schools are available to men and women alike, such as University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Engineering.
  5. Mathematics: While the stereotype that women aren’t good at math may not be true, it seems that many women might just believe it anyway. Women are heavily underrepresented in math-related fields, especially in academic positions at top universities. Of the over 300 tenured professors in top mathematics programs in America, only 16 are women. While that is quadruple the number in 1991, it’s still a staggering disparity. Recent studies have shown, however, that many of the obstacles women may have faced in the past when pursuing a career in mathematics have been lessened. Women who have an interest in mathematics as career, whether at the college level or in a applied setting, shouldn’t shy away from perusing one because of outdated gender stereotypes. Mathematics degrees are available from nearly every college and university in the states, from Indiana to Arizona.
  6. Creative Directors : Far from the man’s world depicted in Mad Men, advertising today is much more female-dominated, with women making up about 65.8% of the work force. Yet despite women making up the bulk of the employees in advertising, they rarely make it to the top of the field. Of the top 33 ad agencies in the U.S., only 4 have female creative directors. In fact, women only make up 3% of the creative directors at advertising agencies across the nation. Whether good old-fashioned sexism plays a role or something else is unclear, but more women are needed to help fill out the top ranks at ad agencies both in the US and abroad (where women comprise of even fewer, if that were possible, of the management positions).
  7. Aviation: Aside from pioneering woman Amelia Earhart, most people would be hard pressed to name a female pilot. Of the over 600,000 pilots in the United States, only about 6% are women, and only 3.85% of non-pilot aviation jobs are held by women. Women make up a very small percentage of employees in the industry, and are in high demand from many airlines and private companies who want to diversify their staff. While many flight departments are still plagued by sexism, women in aviation can expect to receive a great deal of support from the female aviation community and non-profit organizations.
  8. Fire and Emergency Services: It’s been a hard-fought battle by many women to get acceptance as firefighters and emergency workers. Some believe that women shouldn’t even be working in this field, as they can’t match the upper body strength of men. It is perhaps these strong reactions that keep many women from even considering a career as a firefighter or rescue worker. As of 2008, women only make up only 3.7% percent of the first responders work force, or about 11,000 of the more than 350,000 people working in this field. Another staggering stat? Over half of metropolitan fire departments don’t even have one female on staff.
  9. Law Enforcement: While women have taken on clerical or dispatch roles in law enforcement since the 1800’s, the field has been and remains a male-dominated one. Today, women hold only 12% of law enforcement jobs nationwide and few make it into the top ranks, with only 1% of female law enforcement officers rising to the level of lieutenant or higher. Additionally, many female law enforcement officers report on-the-job harassment from male coworkers and sexual discrimination when applying to work in certain units. Despite these obstacles, the number of women in law enforcement is growing, and women with a passion for serving and protecting shouldn’t let something as silly as sexism stand in their way from pursuing a rewarding career.
  10. Architecture: Architecture has long been a boys’ club. Few women ever make into the ranks of notable architects, and many have failed to be given credit when they have contributed to great works. While many more women have risen in the ranks of architecture in recent years, women still make up only 13.3% of professional architects. With chauvinism still a major part of the architectural culture, it’s no easy field to navigate, even for the most talented of female architects. Yet someone has to start breaking down that glass ceiling, and for those interested in entering the field, there is no better time than now to do it.
  11. Athletic Coaching: Ever notice how even women’s teams have male coaches? Often, it’s not a matter of preference, but of necessity, as there aren’t enough qualified female coaches out there to fill available positions. Female coaches are becoming harder and harder to find, something that any woman with a passion for athletics should take note of. Part of the problem is that many women may not even consider coaching as a viable career option. But athletic directors like Janet Kittel at Syracuse University say it should be, as she and other professionals across the nation are itching to hire women to fill coaching positions.
  12. Information Technology: Women used to be a dominant force in computer science and IT, but the numbers are declining sharply, and professionals in the field are starting to take note. In 1996, women made up 42% of IT professionals, by 2004 that number had dropped to just 32%. The same goes for those pursuing a computer science degree, often the bachelors held by IT pros, with 37% of grads being women in 1985 and just 28% today. Despite the latest IT trends working with traditionally female skill sets, women are leaving the profession and companies are doing what they can to draw them back in.
  13. Chemistry: Chemistry may be a hard field for women to gain a foothold in, even in today’s much less sexist and more accepting working world. It took over 40 years of fighting for women to be accepted in the Chemical Society, and while many male chemists supported their female counterparts, many were resentful of their encroachment on what had previously been a male-dominated profession. Today, women hold only about 12% of tenure and tenure-track professorships in chemistry even though over 40% of the PhDs awarded in the field were to females.
  14. Academia in the Sciences and Philosophy: Women are still a rarity in many parts of academia, holding few, if any professorial positions in certain departments. Among the least female-friendly? Physics (with only 5% of professor positions held by women), computer science, engineering, and philosophy. It may not be a matter of gender discrimination, however, as few women pursue higher-level degrees in these fields in the first place, with less than 20% of PhD students in physics being women, and just under 30% of philosophy PhDs. Many of these fields are reporting shortages of women and are looking to hire female professionals, whether in academia or other applications of the sciences and philosophy, making them attractive options for women who are interested in pursuing them.

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