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Do You Think It’s Still a Man’s World?

2 March, 2023

By Albert Hamburg American Painting Contractor June 1971

There is no question about the fact that the woman’s role and influence on society and the business world has both grown and changed in recent years. So much, in fact, that the male’s role is often considered to be threatened.

The woman’s role in society has been changing so rapidly that the success or failure of many businesses is going to be determined by how well they keep tab on, and reappraise the needs, changing moods and aspirations of today’s women. 

With competition getting fiercer by the day, the painter cannot minimize the importance of the woman’s changing role in business. 

Professional painting is a male-dominated industry. In selling residential painting, we think in terms of selling to the head of the household, who men generally believe to be a man. But this is where we are frequently wrong. 

The residential painting contractor, in attempting to reach a household in his advertising, should tailor his message to females. For the housewife of today is the major force in deciding household improvements. 
How far the female has come in ruling her household can easily be measured by any man who has been around the residential field for a while.

When I was a boy, I spent many a summer day working with my father painting farm buildings in Western Nebraska. The ol’ man was pretty good at selling paint jobs to these Russian and German farmers. But it was always the man of the family whom he had to deal with, even in picking the color for the interior of the house. 

If the wife or daughters showed a preference for a certain color, the farmer would pick a color they didn’t like just to put them in their place. But today it’s the woman who makes a majority of the decisions concerning the household. Can any painter remember the last time a man by himself chose the colors for an interior residential job? 

I know we men have the lingering impression that it’s a man’s world because the signs of our superiority are still here. We have a male president; men still run most of our business firms, and still dominate the professions.

And like most men, I still believe the woman’s place is in the home. That men should wear long pants and women should wear dresses. But many teenagers and young people of today reject those views and a lot of other views held by older people. 

This disappearance of differences between the sexes in clothing styles can be construed as a sign that women are gaining fuller equality. And as women become more aggressive, the male seems to become more submissive. 

It has reached the point where many wives now give their husbands an allowance for spending on minor self-indulgences. The money is spent as the female used to do--on stylish clothing, grooming aids and other trifles. 

It used to be that women didn’t have faith in themselves or in other women. The man was the ultimate authority on any given subject. In selling to a woman, the authoritarian male was used by business firms to convince, bully and frighten the pathetic female into buying the product. 

No longer. Today’s woman has received equal education and has competed with men for jobs. She is integrated into the labor force as an independent and individual equal. Her experience with men as equals has convinced her that the male is not all-knowing and that she knows a lot more about certain subjects than a man does. Women have new confidence in themselves, and it is growing stronger. 

And today there is more encouragement rather than resistance from husbands about their wives working because the working wives’ paychecks make a big difference in the household status and permit access to luxuries which otherwise would be absent. 

All of these points have combined to bring about long-term changes in family patterns. The male will still try to imply to his sons that the world will forever be a man’s world. But the female is busy teaching her daughter that there is a better way for her. 

From now on, any implication of a female being subordinate will be rejected. The term, feminine will have new meaning. And if the painter tries to sell a woman still equates feminism with docility, he will have big trouble communicating with women. 

A smart businessman sees the handwriting on the wall. It says that in this decade, women will take their place beside men in the worlds of business, government, education and the professions. Yes, there will be more women painting contractors. 

And women, at the same time, will be controlling family purchases, maintenance, entertainment and finances and a very powerful role she will play. 

To the painter, all this spells trouble unless he can adapt to the changing world. He must face the fact that increasingly he will have to deal with women when he bids on a job. 

If you are among those who feel uneasy in dealing with women because of a fancied language gap, or because you believe feminine charms will put you at a disadvantage—forget it!

The new woman is going to blunt and forthright in her language and about her world. If you don’t understand her, there is a chance you will be shocked into inaction. 

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