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Long before Barbie became the overachieving job hopper she is today, someone somewhere had to make all of those career choices for her. From pilot to paleontologist, Barbie has held more than 80 jobs in her life span. Real women change jobs considerably less often, but just like Barbie, they have limitless options.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women still rule in traditional jobs. Statistics show that today's women most often hold jobs as teachers, secretaries, receptionists, bookkeepers, nurses and cashiers. But it should come as no surprise that women also choose from a host of nontraditional careers.

According to Work4Women, a website developed by Wider Opportunities for Women or WOW, in conjunction with Workplace Solutions, the myth that certain jobs are "men's work" and other jobs are "women's work" is the result of tradition and socialization. The vast majority of job requirements are unrelated to sex. So if you see a job that has traditionally been held by a man but interests you, don't think of it as "man's work," think of it as a nontraditional occupation and go for it.

"Nontraditional occupations for women offer better wages, benefits and opportunities for career advancement than traditional career options do. Many women already have the interest and/or aptitude for a nontraditional occupation. They just need a training program to expand their knowledge and build on skills they may have obtained from other jobs and life experience," Work4Women says.


Civil service

Once dominated by men, occupations like firefighter and police officer are viable options for women today. In the United States, more than 8,500 women currently work as full-time, career firefighters and officers, and there are an estimated 78,000 female police officers.


Military

This area is becoming more woman-friendly. The U.S. Government employs tens of thousands of women in previously male-dominated positions in all branches of the military.


Construction

From driving nails to inspecting construction sites, women are donning tool belts and landing positions in all facets of the construction industry. There's even a website for women seeking to explore careers in the construction industry, developed by the National Association of Women in Construction.


Engineering

Where once only men held positions designing and manufacturing just about everything we use today, women are now seeking the challenges and rewards of a career in engineering. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one of the most popular areas of engineering chosen by women is electrical and electronic engineering, followed by industrial and mechanical engineering.


Science Fields

Statistics show that between 10 and 20 percent of women in science-related fields are becoming physicists and astronomers, atmospheric and space scientists, agricultural and food scientists, and forestry and conservation scientists.


Automobile and Aircraft Repair

Today, less than 10 percent of these positions are held by women. Requiring only a trade school certification, occupations in these fields typically pay well and have duties that -- despite what women might think -- are unrelated to gender.


Law and Medical

There is a dramatic shift in these industries. Today, women account for nearly half of all law and medical school enrollments.


Singer Helen Reddy said it best, "I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back and pretend." Although equal opportunity in the United States has only been around for 20 years, hats off to Barbie and her creators who more than 40 years ago planted the seed for the growing number of women who today work in nontraditional careers.

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