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MEN: What would your reason be for asking a woman what she does for a living, upon meeting her?

I'm always sensitive to how men feel being asked this question right away by women. I don't ask, and I'm much more interested in learning other things about a man before knowing his occupation.

Imagine you've just met a woman, briefly discuss the weather and she asks, "So, what do you do for a living?"

I find men do this very often and I'd like to understand why, from a man's perspective. Is it that it's very important to you, or that you don't know what else to ask, or is it that you think you'll learn about her more quickly, by knowing? If so, would you be stereotyping? Has anyone made certain assumptions about you that were incorrect, based on occupational stereotypes?

Examples: Lawyers are dishonest; Investment bankers are ruthless; models are airheads; artists are flaky; construction workers are not that smart; accountants are boring..

Women are welcome to comment! I am just curious to know the motive behind men asking this question right away.

*I'm adding to this, as I'm getting a lot of "Just curious" replies which I don't believe addresses the question. Why are you curious? What will it tell you, that you need to know, in the first few seconds of meeting someone?

*Thank you all for your replies!

By Athena
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153 comments

7

you could tell him you run a vasectomy clinic. start rummaging in your purse for some coupons.

hankster Level 8 July 9, 2018
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6

To determine if she can support you in the manner you're accustomed to.

bigpawbullets Level 8 July 9, 2018
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Or would like to become accustomed to!

6

I think both sexes do this somewhere along the way. I find it interesting if the initial question leads to finding out how a person got into their job, what it took etc. The stories behind the choice often show more about the person that the actual way they make a living now. I have met people who have flipped their initial jobs into something else; People who have been in a career all their lives because they love it; People who are working hard and getting no where. I do get asked that question a lot...I think mainly because I don't fit the stereotype of what people think an accountant is...usually when I tell a person, I end up picking up the tab and calculating the tip (JUST KIDDING!)...it really doesn't matter to me as long as there are other things that make us compatible. Love reading everybody's views on this as well...

thinktwice Level 7 July 9, 2018
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I like reading the different views as well. I think everyone is in agreement that how someone spends their time is important, so eventually you'd want to know and understand many areas of a person's life.

The question is, at one point do you ask? Is it within the first 20 seconds, the first 10 minutes.. after an hour?

Sometime after the first 20 seconds would be more polite.

@Athena oh definitely...ugh...I try to give people a break on trying to find "safe" things to talk about, but, bringing it up too quickly tells me that communication is going to be a problem down the road...lol...20 seconds? UGH

@thinktwice

Two thumbs up to that!

4

Because it could lead to any of the following:
1) A similar profession thus useful networking.
2) An opportunity for her thus not hesitating in asking me mine because I'm passionate about it.
3) Good indicator of a person's education (Yes I prefer educated people in a sense)

As far as stereotypes are concerned, never found them very helpful except anyone who's been in sales would have a high threshold for tolerating people.

DSGavde Level 5 July 9, 2018
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4

I would like to know because I've always wanted to meet a woman that does animal husbandry so I can pretend I don't know what that is so she can tell me she gives hand jobs to horses. Gawd that would be hilarious.

Anonbene Level 7 July 9, 2018
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4

I can only answer for myself, and the answer might not be that helpful. It depends on the woman. Sometimes it's small talk. There's a lull in the conversation on a date, so I ask questions. If it's someone I'll be looking at as a potential partner, the question may be more important. First, I want to see what she says. I'm looking for intelligence and ambition, and passion for what she does. Or maybe just something in common. Or hoping she'll like it so much that she geeks out about it - I think women's minds are beautiful when they're kind of lost in discussing something they're excited about. It can also be used as a measure of health. If someone is 38, working retail on an entry level, or tends to get fired a lot, that's not the level of professionalism or career ambition I'm looking to partner with.

Humanistheathen Level 6 July 9, 2018
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4

If you just meet someone, the topics available for conversation are limited. This question opens up some avenues for conversation. That's about it. If you find you are both involved in similar or related fields, this can make the first meeting more interesting.

zeuser Level 7 July 9, 2018
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4

I’m sure glad I am not in the market as I would probably be someone to ask that question. It does tell a person a lot about the other person as they spend a large proportion of their time doing whatever their occupation is. I guess you could ask about hobbies or tastes in food or whatever but if something like this is a no-no I would be afraid to ask anything.

gearl Level 7 July 9, 2018
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It's not a no no just something that seems odd.

I agree.

4

I think men's identities are often built around their occupation. sometimes that could lead to the question because ain't everybody's....jk.... or they're thinking about money, or they're genuinely curious, or desperately non-creative conversationalists....idk.

hankster Level 8 July 9, 2018
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3

I don't tend to ask a guy that early on as I feel it's kind of like asking "How much money do you make?" I also feel awkward when people ask me the same question as my work is about the opposite of glamorous.

Carin Level 7 July 9, 2018
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Some guys seem to worry about being taken advantage of financially so I try to be considerate of that. (Like their idea of a bad date is paying for a nice dinner & not even getting a peck on the cheek. Our idea of a bad date is being raped &/or murdered. But oh well.)

Excellent dating strategy.

I guess I've never assumed a specific income based on profession. When I ask it's more about sussing out who they are and what they're about.

3

It's generally just small talk. I'm not looking for what you do so much as what do you spend your time thinking about. I wanna use that to open up the conversation.

slowride Level 2 July 9, 2018
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3

The occupation itself may not define the person, but it may indicate the amount of ambition, may show their interests (if they are passionate about the work), and if they'll have time for a guy. If she works a ton or has irregular hours beyond reason, then tjatay not work out so well.

dokala Level 5 July 9, 2018
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3

It's called small talk. Would you rather me asj you about the weather?

godef Level 7 July 9, 2018
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3

To address your direct lead-off question: My reason for asking a woman what she does for a living would come from a genuine curiosity about it. Would I ask that question right out of the gate? Probably not. But it would come up. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask someone what their occupation is. A person's occupation can speak volumes to their passion (if they are so fortunate as to be doing work they are passionate about). So this is a great way to learn about them and what moves and motivates them. I understand your distaste of having that question asked if it is being used as some sort of status barometer in order to pass judgment. That's just plain wrong, IMHO.

IAMGROOT Level 7 July 9, 2018
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3

I'm guessing it partially comes down to how much time and effort you have put into what you do for a living. Some types of jobs take an enormous amount of focus and preparation to even get started. Nobody accidentally becomes a lawyer or research psychologist. I had a woman tell me about 10 years ago that she thought people who worked with their hands were more self aware than people who worked with their mind all day. I thought she was just trying to flatter me (I work in a steel shop) but when I mentioned it to my boss, he agreed. I'd never given it any thought till then.

JustKip Level 7 July 9, 2018
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People who work with their hands are indeed gifted. We need all people, with different talents to keep this world running - and also to keep it interesting!

I meet all kinds of people within each occupation, so their jobs don't tell me anything about who they are, other than they've chosen the work they do. What those reasons are for choosing it, what they glean from their work, what they love or hate about it.. those things tell me who they are.

I work in an industry that is so important. It transforms lives, but there are things about it that I despise. I just focus on making myself an ambassador for the positive aspects and staying consistent regarding the rejection of what I consider unhealthy.

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3

Most people have some passion for how they make money. It's an easy conversation starter with total strangers even when dating isn't an option.

Some people like judging and classifying others. If I think that's what's going on, I claim to be an entrepreneur and enjoy the eye rolls.

I've had dates who were likely burnt by free loaders quickly ask about my job on the first date, I get that and my response varies depending on how the questions are asked and how I think the date is going.

For people who really pay attention there are other things to talk about. People's clothes, their reactions...can tell a lot about them. I often have random books, so that's an easy conversation starter that doesn't involve qualifying my character based on income.

educatedredneck Level 7 July 9, 2018
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I like to ask people about their passions. I enjoy nature and travel and want to hopefully talk about those things. But as I get older people talk about things like aging parents or house repair. Not exactly thrilling subjects.

@Akfishlady I've had those experiences. It's sad when people utterly lose their passions to be purely practical.

Even if you don't have much time, I think it's important to maintain things you love. Spending 10 minutes before bed reading or playing an instrument can do a lot to keep your spirit alive.

2

Just want to find out how you spend your time. Nothing more sinister or complex. But then I'm kinda gormless when it comes to the ladies.

MrBeelzeebubbles Level 6 Aug 19, 2018

I'm adding gormless to my vocabulary!!

2

Conversation starter

Mart Level 3 Aug 19, 2018
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2

I think I ask it just to continue the conversation, it usually leads to some more questions and insight about that person and maybe a way to find common ground.

antman Level 6 Aug 19, 2018
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2

It's always a double edged sword. I've seen woman have a complete attitude change when they lean what kind of job I have. If a woman is a "gold digger", that can mean they are nobody to trust for mariage, but a one-night stand opportunity.

novoxguy Level 6 July 9, 2018
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2

I think that question is more attributed to our cultural norms, than anything else. Just like asking about the weather or how someone's day went. We ask out of habit, not for the answer, but for the human interaction.

I prefer to ask women if they're happy, what motivates them to get out of bed, and if they know they're beautiful.

Marz Level 7 July 9, 2018
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2

I ask EVERYONE what they do for a living. It's just a means of starting conversation.

DeadPresident Level 3 July 9, 2018
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2

Because I have social anxiety and can't think of anything else to say?

davsmith4156 Level 5 July 9, 2018
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2

I don't normally ask about work until it comes up in regular conversation. I guess I just don't care that much? I don't feel as if my work defines who I am.
I'd much rather get her talking about something she is passionate about. That makes for a more interesting and informative conversation in my opinion. If that happens to be her job, she'll bring it up long before I will.

KCjoe108 Level 6 July 9, 2018
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You sound like a really worthwhile person! & you explained it so well.

@Carin
That is so amazingly sweet of you to say!! (Blushing). I tend to feel like I over explain things sometimes.

2

Personally it is because I am not great at small talk. I can't think of many other questions I can ask which have an answer worthy of discussion (ie suitable small talk topics) that are less personal.

What question would you ask someone you knew nothing about? Alternative topic suggestions might be quite useful.

JoeC Level 3 July 9, 2018
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What brings you here today?
How's your day been so far?
Have you been to this venue before?
How did you hear of it?
How do you like to spend your free time?

All of these questions get answers that lead to more questions. Sometimes people volunteer their profession. You always get there, but if it's first question you ask, it says something about you.

@Athena I think 'how do you spend your free time' would be worse as a first question. It would feel a bit overwhelming to me in terms of options, and feels a bit like an interview. The others might work well depending on the situation but might result in one word answers not leading to more questions (eg why are you at this stand-up gig? To see the comedy. How did you hear about it? Facebook).
It's interesting that you think it says something about me. What does it say? Might you be jumping to conclusions?

@JoeC
These are questions I presented as an alternative to asking what someone does for a living. There is a natural flow to conversation, that doesn't sound like you're in an interview.

Asking what someone does for a living does tell me something about a person. It tells me, either interesting conversation is a struggle, or that occupation is very important to a person. As a first or second question? It tells me it's part of a process of elimination.

I have a job that I'm extremely proud of and I love. I'm not avoiding talking about it, but I think from the answers here, it will tell you that some people do think it's fine to ask, within seconds, in order to determine whether someone is worth your time.

Isn't being around someone for a few minutes, seeing their facial expressions, demeanour, warmth etc., a determinant in itself? Or, does it always come down to occupation, right away? I appreciate people who have more depth when "choosing" people, for just a conversation, or more.

I have met the most wonderful people who, upon first glance, would not be considered potential friends, or partners. I have friends of all ages, races and income brackets. Life is richer that way, as people are rich with contradictions.

@Athena I got that they were alternatives. They don't seem conducive to a natural flow to me.

I do struggle with starting interesting conversations with strangers when I don't initially know whether we have anything in common. I have interesting conversations with people I know. Is that a characteristic you don't want?

I also think it might be a bit weird watching someone's facial expressions etc would be a bit weird if we weren't having a conversation.

@JoeC
I meant reading their facial expressions during a conversation, not while hiding in the bushes. smile007.gif

It's bad form to ask someone the question right away... I mean, right away.

I find it really difficult to get the point across that I'm not referring to asking the question. There's simply more to ask and more polite things to ask initially.

It comes down to this. If you're good at true connection, the questions to find that out, are not found in THAT one. I've had friends for 20+ years and I couldn't tell you anything about their job description.. but I can tell you everything about what they love to do, how they think, what brings them joy, and what makes them tick.

Hate to even mention this... I've given courses on the art of conversation.. and the entire time is spent teaching people how to avoid the usual go-to questions that make conversation ordinary.

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