Jobs gender blind
Clad in her black and white uniform, Sheryl Benjamin starts the engine, selects drive and gets ready to traverse the route from Spanish Town, St Catherine, to Half-Way Tree, St Andrew.
Benjamin is sitting behind the steering of a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus, a job she has held for the past three and a half years.
The 47-year-old is among a growing list of Jamaicans who have ignored the unwritten rules and moved into jobs which, for generations, were considered gender-specific.
Benjamin, a resident of May Pen, loves taking on challenges, and manouvering a large JUTC bus through the traffic in the Corporate Area in really challenging.
"I am a fast learner, and so it wasn't hard for me to manoeuvre the buses. I think I can do it even better than some of the male drivers, and so I am not intimidated by them. They can drive, but I do some of the things better then them," declared Benjamin.
"Any route I get, I do it. I am not afraid to drive on any of the roads. I know the routes and so I can do it," the brave driver argued.
For Barbara Smith, cutting men's hair and riding the ground fork as she tills the soil is a pleasure. She is able to balance being a farmer and a barber every day as she tries to make ends meet.
"I feel comfortable doing my jobs. During the morning hours, I go to my field and in the days I open my barbershop.
"I can use the fork. I can do just about anything it requires me to do on the farm. I plant, I reap, and carry my load to the market sometimes," she said.
Unlike many females, she took up the jobs that would be considered strenuous as she and her family can survive more easily from the businesses.
DOING WHAT HE DOES BEST
Ricardo Simpson works as a nail technician, an area which was once restricted to women, and the few men who ventured into the field were considered effeminate.
But that does not bother Smith, who told The Sunday Gleaner that he is able to earn up to $25,000 per week doing what he does best.
"I am good at designing. I love doing airbrush, and so I really don't see the reason why people should say it is a female job.
"People just do what they can do. I don't feel any way doing it. I have a lot of customers and I by no means feel feminine. It is just a job and I go for it because I like it," Smith argued.
For Michelle Lewin, of Comfort Zone Beauty Salon in St Andrew, seeing more and more men in the parlours is no surprise.
For some time now, she has been seeing more men seeking to work as stylists in her beauty salon, and, for her, that's not a bad thing.
"Since I advertised for someone to cut and curl last Sunday, a number of men have been calling for the position. This is not surprising because it is the second time I am advertising a position and a lot of men called," Lewin told The Sunday Gleaner.
"It seems more men are showing interest than women these days. I didn't even know that so many men are relaxing hair these days," she said.
Lewin pointed out that some 45 per cent of the persons who showed interest in the vacancy to cut and curl hair were men.
BARBERS MAKE SWITCH
"We think it is a good thing for the sector because the men can do their job. In fact, there are men who are doing better than the females," she disclosed.
Psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj believes that women have long bridged the gap that made some jobs gender-specific.
He, however, said while some men continue to limit themselves, there are others flooding the cosmetology and food-preparation industries, which were once considered female zones.
"Women no longer tell themselves that there is anything called a 'man job' or a 'woman job'. They go for any job now. I have had instances where more engineers were women, more doctors were women, and on construction sites, you have more women," said Semaj.
"Women have more spending power now, and some women prefer to go to a male stylist and men are seeing the benefits, so more men are now going into cosmetology," added Semaj.
He said men are able to access training easily for the two professions through Heart Trust/NTA, so they are more encouraged to take on the jobs which were once thought to be reserved for women.