Occupational Deprivation

There is archaeological evidence that beer existed as early as 13,000 BC. Its origin was in what we now call the Middle East. Initially beer was something was something brewed at home by women in the household. The home brewing of beer lasted into the 1700’s.

Some women decided to sell beer to others in local marketplaces. They would setup cauldrons at the marketplace and brew beer on the spot. They would wear tall black pointed hats so that people coming to the marketplace could easily locate them.

The women brewers were very successful until the advent of the Inquisition. The religious fervor of the Inquisition carried with it strict gender standards. Witchcraft also became an obsession. It didn’t take much imagination for men to charge the women brewers as witches. Fearing the loss of their lives, women were deprived of the occupation they had held for centuries. Today you will find very few women in leadership roles in the brewing industry, even the craft part of the market.

Reflect for a moment on how gender, race, ethnicity, and other human traits have been used to deprive individuals of occupations. Jackie Robinson is well known for breaking the color barrier in baseball. Can you name the first openly gay actor and the year of his debut? It was Wilson Cruz and the year was 1994. What percentage of the engineering profession are women? The answer is 13%. What about the percentage of medical doctors who are Indigenous Americans? It’s an appalling 0.3%

Why does occupational deprivation still exist? There are many answers. Some view the barriers to entry into occupations as a “marketing” problem, and we need to overcome stereotypes that go with certain occupations. But the root problem with occupational deprivation is more systemic.

Bias against certain classes in our society still exists. How often have you heard that girls weren’t good at math? Part of the occupation deprivation problem is educational. This problem is getting worse as states are depriving public schools of needed funding ensuring that underrepresented classes in certain occupations do not have the educational opportunities they need. The lack of role models and mentors is also a challenge. Success networks for many simply don’t exist for those who have faced historic occupational deprivation.

The impact of occupational deprivation is a loss of talent in many critical professions. Just imagine how sports are much more enjoyable now that anyone with talent can succeed? How might the elimination of occupational deprivation open up other aspects of our society? Just imagine how the opening of occupations to Indigenous Americans could help alleviate centuries of poverty for those living in tribal areas. Just imagine the impact on young people when they realize that there is no occupation they can’t pursue?

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“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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