Did you know cheerleading used to be a men’s sport? Or were the first computer programmers female? Many of our gender stereotypes today are the exact opposite of those of the past. Here are things that once belonged to men are now considered feminine or vice versa.
1. Cheerleading used to be a men’s sport, but now it’s associated with women
Cheerleading originated in the United States, where schools and major cities had their own cheerleading teams for their football and basketball teams.
Cheering slogans first appeared at American universities in the 1880s, when spectators chanted to cheer for the home team at football games.
The first recorded slogan was “Ray, Ray, Ray! TIGER, TIGER, SIS, SIS, SIS! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! Aaaaah! PRINCETON, PRINCETON, PRINCETON!” at Princeton University in 1884.
14 years later, college student Johnny Campbell at the University of Minesora became the first cheerleader in history when he officially led the crowd chanting “Rah, Rah, Rah! Sku-u-mar, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!”, and November 2, 1898 has since been considered the birth date of the systematic cheer movement.
The University of Minnesota then officially formed a cheerleading team with 6 male members, with Johnny Campbell’s slogan still used to this day.
Although the cheerleading movement began with male members, female students began to join in mass in 1923, in part because universities at the time did not have many sports for women.
Gymnastics and acrobatics are mixed with cheering slogans. Today it is estimated that about 97% of the world’s cheerleaders are female, except in college, where cheerleaders are still 50% male.
2. In the 1940s – 1950s there were a lot of female programmers, but now the majority of programmers are male
It’s hard to believe, but programming used to be a woman’s job. Today, men dominate the fields of engineering and programming, but in the 1940s it was different.
The first programmers in America were female. This can be seen in photos of girls wearing skirts next to America’s first electronic and computer integrated machine (ENIAC).
These photos have been around for a long time but people just think these girls are models posing in front of the computer.
By the time those women are recognized as programmers, they are 70 years old.
There are 6 women in total programming the ENIAC computer. These women were selected from 100 women who did the work of calculating ballistics by hand.
This is a very boring job, so two engineers, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, came up with the idea of designing the machine to make the job easier. So ENIAC was born and these two engineers hired six women to do the calculations for the computer.
These women laid the first foundation for future programmers.
3. The first operator was male, but customers felt female voices were friendlier, so women were recruited.
With the early telephones, people often had a manual switchboard. Operators will direct calls to the right people by inserting the end of the phone line into the correct socket. In the past, men were hired to do this job.
But gradually, companies realized that young men were not suitable for this job and began to hire women to replace them.
Companies find that female call center agents are more polite to customers, and pay them cheaper, so more and more women are being hired for this job.
Today, the voices we hear are also female because of that.
4. Before World War II, most secretaries were men
The word “secretary” comes from the Latin word “secret”. Therefore, the position of secretary plays a very important role in the organization, and also the reason why this is a job for men.
Only in modern times does secretarial work become a woman’s job.
This change started with the Industrial Reform. This is a time when industries are booming. The demand for male workers in construction, mining, heavy industry and other demanding jobs is also increasing.
As a result, desk jobs are often left empty and women are recruited to fill them.
Another reason why women became suitable candidates for work was the introduction of typewriters. Women have smaller and more skillful hands than men, so they are often better at typing.
In addition, housewives skills also help them to be more convenient in working as assistants. All of those reasons make secretarial work the right job for women today.
5. Boys used to wear skirts like girls
When it comes to dress, we are always limited by the rules society sets for us: Skirts are for women, pants are for men.
Today, that distinction is also blurred. But in the past, there was a time when that boundary even disappeared, especially between boys and girls.
In the 19th century, it was common for boys to wear skirts like girls. Although the patriarchy was on the throne at that time, parents would not pay much attention to children’s clothing before they were 10. Boys also wore skirts like girls when they were young.
The reason is very simple. Old-fashioned children’s clothing is full of troublesome accessories, and parents find it easier to dress their children in the same clothes.
Dressing your baby in a dress also makes changing diapers easier. When boys reach the right age to stop wearing skirts, parents hold a celebration called “breeching”, which is the day when boys start wearing trousers or breeches.