The Atlantic

The Men Who Take 'Women's' Jobs

As employment options shrink in parts of the Midwest, many men who once worked in manufacturing are finding new careers in health care.
Source: Alana Semuels / The Atlantic

LUCASVILLE, Ohio—Before the scalpels, the forceps, and the surgical needles, Tom Jones knew steel. He was a quality technician in the fabrication shop at a handful of mills, most recently at AK Steel, where he worked in this economically depressed region of southern Ohio until his employer laid off more than 600 people.

Casting about for a way to support his wife and two children, Jones decided to go back to school. He considered becoming a welder or an electrician, but wanted something different, more stable. So he settled on a program at the nearby Scioto County Career Technical Center that would train him to be a surgical technologist, someone who assists doctors during surgery.

“I read all this stuff that said the medical field is the only one that’s not laying people off,” Jones said, explaining his choice. I met him while he sat in school, one of two men in a classroom full of women, where he was wearing blue scrubs and a camouflage baseball cap. He said it was a little strange to be among so many women, but it was something he felt he had to do. He said, “It comes to a point where, most of the people like I know like me, you go, you get a job and support your family.”

Many men in parts of the Midwest have

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