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!
I think people learn from an early age to put labels on everything and they like to lump similar things together, most kids will remember the Sesame Street game, 1 of these things is not like the others for example. So it is only normal for people to want to put a label on somebody they just met by finding out what they do for work because most people define themselves by what they do and by DO I mean work. This gives a whole pile of information about a person with just a few words because what we do often is an indication of how we think, what our income levels are, are we intellectually biased or more physically driven, are we extroverted or introverted, etc. etc. These are just superficial guesstimates because I have known structural engineers who are highly artistic and creative and artists who are very concerned with science and structure in their work or accountants who are extremely extroverted, etc.
When people ask me what I do for a living I now answer them in a way that is truthful but which suits me best based upon my superficial sense of what kind of person they are based upon looks, dress, handshake and how they present themselves. I might just say that I am early retired, or that I am a master builder, or a real estate developer, or a carpenter, or a writer, or a microbiologist, or a politician - all of the above are true but what I tell someone will depend upon who and what I take them for, what I might possibly want from them and just how I am feeling at the moment because I know that they will modify their opinion of me based upon which answer I give them.
To determine if she can support you in the manner you're accustomed to.
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...
@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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Because it could lead to any of the following:
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.
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.
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.
It's a good conversation starter. Also, I like to see what we have in common. If someone was offended by my asking, I think I would have my answer on if we were compatible.
It's just a conversation starter. It's an attempt find some common ground.
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.
Because I have social anxiety and can't think of anything else to say?
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.
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.
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.
@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.
Well....if you chose a career in a field, and work in a job where you literally spend 1/3 of your day, 1/3 sleeping, and the other 1/3 where at least part of your free time is showering, dressing, driving to your job, I am just curious about something that is obviously a big part of your daily life, and how invested/committed/happy you are with that choice. It's not some nefarious means to stereotype or judge you - it's just an attempt to find out what makes up your life. Plus, if you tell me you are a sky-diving instructor, that is some cool ass shit that I would like to know more about. Guys say it's just something to talk about, while women seem to put all this meaning and ulterior motive behind the question. Pretty good indicator who is really the more judgmental sex IMO.
Work is a major part of the lives of most people. Asking about occupation creates more conversation, it lets the woman talk about herself for a bit, and you find out whether they are doing something they love or are just in it for the paycheck... sure there's lots of things to talk about other than work, but guys can be nervous when they approach a woman, so it's just an easy question to ask. Why are you so sensitive about talking about your job?
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.
I ask EVERYONE what they do for a living. It's just a means of starting conversation.
Or would like to become accustomed to!