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What is a Pink Collar Job?

Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pink collar job is one that has traditionally been reserved for women only. Most of these jobs are performed in a clean environment, without exposure to dangers, and without requiring hard physical work. The division between a pink collar and white collar job is mainly that of gender.

Up until the beginning of the century, women had a hard time entering the workforce, and when they did, it was mostly by taking low-paid jobs that held little prestige. For example, a woman could be a secretary, but the idea of this woman becoming an office manager was unheard of. A pink collar job became the easy way to label all jobs done by primarily by women before the 1970s. While the women's liberation did much to fight those stereotypes, some jobs are still predominantly female, such as teaching, clerical work, childcare, and nursing.

One of the main objections to holding a pink collar job is the typically low pay. Historically, women have always earned less than men, and the fact that many continue to work in fields that are considered mainly "women's only," continues the trend. Women who work in non-traditional jobs usually earn more, perhaps because the competition with men requires them to hold themselves to a higher standard. Twice as many women are now holding CEO positions in the top Fortune 500 companies, compared to not so many years ago, but 70% of these women hold jobs in the pink-collar field, such as food service and cosmetics industry.

Over the last few decades years, the line that separates a pink collar job from the standard office position has blurred, and it is no longer legal to advertise a position requesting female or male workers only. Traditions still prevail, however, and the following are some examples of jobs that are still commonly considered pink collar: babysitter, nanny, receptionist, florist, tutor, cosmetologist, telephone operator, and maid. Most "pink" jobs are in the service industry, and this includes waitressing, traditionally a women-only job, although that has changed much over the past decade. Other examples that are slowly including more men in their ranks include nursing and teaching, especially at the higher levels.

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Discussion Comments

By win199 — On Oct 25, 2010

@subway11 - I think you are wrong about male nail technicians. I see quite a few of them and I think it really depends on what area of the world you are in. You're not going to find it on the ten best paying jobs list, that's for sure, but many men excel at knowing what looks good or best on a woman which is why they are getting into these positions.

By ChickenLover — On Oct 25, 2010

@empanadas - I think we will see a time, most likely very soon, that these pink collar industry jobs are just obsolete. Not the jobs themselves, but the fact that they are classified as a pink collar job. I think there will soon become a line where men and women work in all fields without much thought given to it otherwise.

By empanadas — On Oct 25, 2010

@subway11 - I agree in your sentiment that more men are entering into the pink collar job fields. While these jobs might not be in the top for them, high paying jobs require work and seniority most of the time. If you have the ability to learn things quickly you are also in luck.

By subway11 — On Jul 13, 2010

Thanks for clarifying what a pink collar job is. I agree that more men are entering pink collar fields.

For example, in the cosmetology field many men hold prominent positions and even educate other cosmetologist in the industry. Vidal Sassoon offers its stylists a full range of educational opportunities in their South Beach location.

There the percentage of men and women working in the salon are even. The only area that I have not seen men in is in the area of nail technology. But this pink collar career path remains popular for both men and women.

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