It’s a woman’s job – or is it?

By Ellyn Peratikou

Men are dominating professions which are typically associated with women. We consider why…

We’re all familiar with the idea of a female hairdresser, fashion designer and cook. Generally, they’re regarded as women’s professions, yet males are blowing apart this preconception with their growing success and innovation in these fields.


The stereotype of the camp male hairdresser has come about as a result of effeminate men excelling in the hairdressing industry.

But why is it that men are so skilled at an occupation which predominately interests women? In ancient hairdressing, men specifically worked on men’s hair – it wasn’t until the 1600s in Europe that they began styling women’s hair.

Nowadays, in a world where the male population is becoming increasingly metrosexual, men are dominating the profession. Indeed, if you had to think of a famous hair stylist, chances are the name which springs to mind belongs to a man; Charles Worthington, James Brown, Trevor Sorbie, Andrew Collinge, Richard Ward.… the list continues.

So what is it that makes men so good at hairdressing? Are they more decisive; more nimble with their fingers; more aware of what it takes to make a woman look her best? Whatever their secret is, it seems to be working!


Fashion designers

By and large, fashion is more heavily associated with women than men, yet the main players in the world of fashion design are, again, male. Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Tom Ford, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versaci, Giorgio Armani – there’s no shortage of prominent male designers.

As Tom Ford once said: ‘There are many more gay male designers’. It’s interesting to think that many of those responsible for creating women’s clothes don’t themselves find women sexually attractive, which may explain why catwalks are populated with clean lines, lean silhouettes and absolutely no curves whatsoever – in other words, a more androgynous or masculine ideal.

Of course both men and women can appreciate beauty from an aesthetic point of view regardless of their gender or sexual preference, and it’s true that clothes ‘hang better’ on thin people – thereby making the designers’ creations the focus rather than the models themselves.

However, in theory, shouldn’t female designers have an equally good, if not more realistic first-person understanding of the female body and how it looks, moves and feels in clothes? So why is it that male designers are more successful in designing women’s clothes?

Designer Michael Vollbracht has offered an answer to this question, saying he thinks that gay men are superior at design because they have the ‘fantasy level that women do not’ whereas ‘women are confused about who they want to be’. Tom Ford, on the other hand, believes that, when women design for other women, they ‘are trapped by their own views of themselves’. We think Coco Chanel might have something to say about that.



As sexist as it may sound, cooking has long been the role of women. Yet, with the exception of Nigella, Delia and a few others, the majority of famous culinary figures are men. Think Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, James Martin, Heston Blumenthal and so on.
Could it be that there are more male chefs because men are able to dedicate a career to the art of cooking, whereas for many women, preparing food is traditionally a standard part of their role as wives and mothers, and therefore not something that they would want to do full-time? An outdated point of view, yes, but there could still be some truth to it.
Perhaps the fact that less dads than mums stay at home to look after the kids also allow men to make more progress in the industry than women are able to. Or, if we’re really going to go with sweeping generalisations here, maybe men are better in the kitchen because they are naturally more aggressive, don’t think twice about shouting orders and get the job done quicker! 
Words: Heledd Williams

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