Men’s Work vs. Women’s Work- is there a Difference?

What is the difference between men’s work and women’s work? Is there a difference?

I had a reader ask me about the difference of “men’s work” and “women’s work” awhile back, and after some conversation on the subject, I promised to put a few thoughts into a post.

There is so much confusion surrounding this topic. We want to follow God’s plan for our womanhood, but problems happen when we start taking our cues from pop culture, or conservative culture, or any culture or group.

First, I want to share with you a few resources on this topic:

-The book Girl Defined (find it here) has THE BEST explanation I have ever read on what Biblical Womanhood really is. They do a fantastic job explaining some core truths about womanhood and how that relates to our work and relationships. I highly recommend this book for all women!

-My post “Hard Workin Gals: Should Christian Girls Have Jobs?” explores why hard work and earning income is totally Biblical.

-The initial comments that sparked this post:

“Hi Allison! It was interesting for me to hear that you have done landscaping work! My oldest brother owns and runs a landscaping business and I am able to help him out (and earn a paycheck by doing bookkeeping and making lunches. However, my brother prefers that I not get out and work with him on the job for several reasons: femininity, “gender roles,” and the overall hard and strenuous nature of the labor. He does occasionally ask me to help him with a big planting job, but I’m wondering what sort of landscaping work you did?? Also, how did you get your violin students? I play violin and would like to begin teaching, but I don’t really want to advertise??? Thank you for your advice!” -Clara

And my comment in response:

“Hi Clara! How great that you get to work for your brother! In answer to your question: I worked for a professional landscaping company. Being a farm girl, I have always loved dirt, heavy lifting, and hard work. Some days my landscaping work included lighter jobs such as pruning and planting small annuals, but many days I was digging out or planting larger plants or small trees, or lifting and applying many bags of mulch. I remember one particular day when I lifted out of the truck and transported to the gigantic flower bed several hundred 30 pound bags of mulch. I loved it!
I never felt at the least as if my femininity was at risk with a job that included hard manual labor. I think that in the Proverbs 31 woman we see that physical strength is actually virtuous. I would encourage you to do a study of that chapter. You might be surprised to see the physical strength and business savvy of this woman given to us for an example. I don’t think that hard physical labor is blurring the gender roles or damaging our femininity at all! I encourage girls to workout and embrace physical strength, not in an obsessive way, but in order to be strong, sturdy women who will be up to whatever challenge comes their way!
I hope that answers your question!
blessings,
Allison”

And now, for some additional thoughts since Clara asked. I hope this might be helpful for even one girl who is struggling to know how her work relates to her femininity:

Girls tend to be a little on the fragile side these days.

We need the backbone of the pioneer women, the strong arms of the Proverbs 31 woman, the business savvy of Lydia (seller of purple in the Bible), the courage of Katie Majors (leaving everything she knew to go to a foreign land and adopt many children as a single woman), the boldness of Esther, the tenacity of Gladys Aylward (going against the “safe” and “proper” status quo to be a single missionary in China), and the poise of Abigail Adams (gracious first lady).

Many girls these days aren’t developing the poise to be a first lady, the courage to live the life of Gladys Aylward, or the spiritual + physical + financial strength to imitate the Proverbs 31 woman.

Specifically, in conservative Christian circles, the thought process seems to be that if a girl knows how to keep house and take care of children, she is equipped for life. I disagree. I believe that this mentality leads to a grievous waste of time + talent among young women, as well as lending itself to poor preparation for real life.

It is wrong to assume that a girl need only know how to clean, cook, and care for children in order to be prepared for life.

Young women need to know how to earn, budget, and invest money.

They should learn business skills. They should work hard, study, create, push themselves.

Getting outside of the comfort zone needs to get on our radar! Girls (and their parents) tend to like what is comfortable, safe, and easy far too often. But your greatest potential does not lie in the comfort zone. I am so grateful I have parents who have encouraged me to dream big and live outside my comfort zone- flying many states away by myself as a teenager to live with and help another family for a week, taking a job with a near-stranger in the city (again, as a teenager) and learning the skill of landscaping (as well as the skill of earning and spending/saving a paycheck!), moving to Mexico for a fall (without any family members) to do mission work, taking a job that is high pressure + high responsibility + has included living alone for weeks at a time, and the list goes on. There are more things right now that I am dreaming of that will push me even farther outside my comfort zone. So that was a lonnggg little sermon! Moral of the story: I’m cheerin’ for all you gals to get outside your comfort zone! Start writing down things you would love to do but don’t think you can or would be good at. Things that make you a little nervous. And then start praying over that list and see where God leads! Buckle up, cause you might be in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Girls need to cultivate loving hearts and deep character instead of spending their youth reading romance novels and writing lists of “what he must be”. They should start becoming a gracious + wise + sturdy girl who would make a good helper to a good, Godly, man of vision and purpose.

This is the time to be mentoring younger girls and learning from older women.

Young women should be focused on caring for the things of the Lord- seeking meaningful work and ministry in their single years. There is work to be done and people to be served. Life is too short to be spent on Pinterest and Facebook. There is more to our life than home decor and DIY projects.

Girls should make the most of their days, becoming disciplined, industrious, capable women.

They must get a vision for the hurting people in the world, and start loving the things Jesus loves.

They need to learn how to handle money well. Girls do not need to constantly be living from one little project sold or monetary gift given to the next. They should learn to earn money, live frugally, invest wisely, and plan astutely. Read the story of the talents/stewards in the Bible (Matthew 25)……and then seek to live as the wise steward!

I want each one of you girls to flourish, to really prosper! In your soul, in your spirit, and in your work. This doesn’t mean “success” by anyone else’s standard, but simply getting a vision, pursuing growth, and embracing hard work. Loving Jesus above all else and living joyfully with Him, stepping out in faith and not living in fear.

There are literally hundreds of skills to learn, books to read, places to travel, and character qualities to cultivate.

Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. She was quite a lady! Not only is she praised for her virtue, trustworthiness, and care for her household, but consider these descriptions:

-She worked HARD: “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…..She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.” (verses 13 + 18)

-She was a savvy business woman:  “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” (verse 24)

-She was physically STRONG: “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” (verse 17)

-She bought property: “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” (verse 16)

Girls, there is not a list of “men’s work” and “women’s work” in the Word of God. There are structures laid out for leadership in the nation, church, + family, but the Bible doesn’t say that a woman shouldn’t do work that includes lifting heavy things, having male employees under her, getting down + dirty, driving big equipment, etc.

Here are some things the Word of God DOES say:

We younger women need older women to mentor us.

Find a Godly, feminine lady who loves Jesus and has a happy marriage and ask her to mentor you! Titus 2 explains what kind of older women should be mentoring younger women, and what they should be teaching them.

We are meant to love our husband + children and doing that WELL should be our first priority.

If not married, we should be actively growing in character qualities such as kindness, gentleness, selflessness, and humility- things that will help make us a loving wife and mother someday. Unmarried women can practice loving home + family by cultivating sweet family relationships, serving family and others joyfully, and making people the priority over their personal desires and plans.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)

We should seek to be women of virtue. 

Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

The definition of virtue: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness; uprightness: chastity; a good or admirable quality.”

We were created because, “It is not good for man to be alone.”(Gen. 2)

God looked at the man He had made and decided to create a woman and bring them together in a beautiful relationship called marriage. He saw that the man needed a helper, and that his life would be completed when he had a woman by his side.

Girls, our “femininity”- that soft + tender side, the “Mother’s instinct”, the love for children and homemaking- this was created by God. Even in our work, we should be cultivating the nurturing, gracious woman God created us to be.

Please take note: You don’t have to be married to fulfill God’s purpose for you!

Just because you are not a wife and mother does not mean that you can’t be the woman God created you to be.

I know some extremely beautiful, kind, virtuous women who, although unmarried, fully embrace their femininity and nurturing + helping instincts. They can be found in all manner of work environments- working at a hospital, helping homeschool younger siblings, working as a secretary, teaching violin students, running a business, tutoring English students, selling houses, doing landsaping, managing political campaigns, and the list goes on.

The common thread I see in these women is this-they love serving others in all areas of life.

They nurture people. They help and encourage their family members. They bring kindness, joy, and compassion to their work environments. They realize that they were created by God, to showcase His glory to the world.

They want to be conduits of His love and grace in everything they do.

They know that whatever work they do is an opportunity to be good stewards of what has been given to them by their Heavenly Father.

Whether you are changing diapers or selling houses, flying airplanes or baking cakes, writing books or homeschooling children, sewing costumes or hiring employees, administering iv’s or recording cd’s, taking people’s photos or doing people’s taxes, installing tile or mowing lawns…….do it all “heartily, as to the Lord.”

To every woman reading this- may your work, no matter what that is, be done with intention, love, and joy.

And now, I’d love to hear your feedback What struck a chord with you?

-Allison

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25 Comments

  1. I could not agree with what you said more! I believe it’s fine for girl’s to have jobs, and that there is no men’s or women’s work. I have a job that is pretty light work. Working at a clothing store. I love taking on extra jobs though. Pet sitting, baby sitting, and haying, etc. I think it’s awesome to have a wide range of skills so that some day down the road, no matter what life throws at you, there is something to fall back on.
    Thank you for writing such great advice!

  2. I like this post. My grandmother was widowed with children and had to finish raising them into adulthood. You never what will happen.

  3. Allison
    This is such a fabulous, mature, God honoring post. You have taken His Word and applied it specifically and practically to the life of woman. Woman strong in body, mind, soul, and spirit are needed in God’s army. Whether married or not, woman need to be capable in many aspects of life in order to have the skills necessary to serve God no matter what He has for them. I love studying the strong capable woman mentioned in the Bible because it reminds me that strong is not bad. The message that strong is bad or not feminine is very prevalent in conservative Christianity making those of us who dare to be strong feel less Godly. Thank you for sharing the message of Godly, feminine strength. That is what we have chosen to teach our daughters and it is so good to hear it from someone else. May we be willing to be strong and capable for His service by humbling ourselves to reach beyond what may seem comfortable.

    1. Amen, Mrs. Craig! Thanks for your comment- I couldn’t agree more! You are a fabulous example of teaching your daughters to embrace both their femininity AND strength. To be capable yet tender, good leaders and good followers.

  4. Hi Allison,
    Wow. That was really good. Thank you for encouraging us to be godly, yet hardworking women. I really appreciate your wisdom. 🙂 You are an encouragement and godly example to so many people!

  5. Wow! Thank you so much for this post! It was always pretty hard and complicated finding my place because of the very fine line between genders that’s so blurred. The way you put this makes it so clear. I never looked at it from this perspective. Thank you again!

  6. Wow, Allison. You went so far above and beyond what I asked – thank you so so much for investing your time to answer my questions in such a detailed and organized way. Thank you.
    You definitely gave me a lot to think and pray about, and also encouragement to continue on in the work I have! I do have ooooone more question…. I don’t think you touched on the authority issue, though maybe you just assumed that we understand it biblically, which we should. My dad especially has a tender conscience when it comes to his role as the authority over me until marriage. I am still personally responsible and don’t in any way use my dad as a crutch to be lax in the area, and yet he is always wary of putting me under employers unless he knows them well. I stand responsible for my heart and soul before God, my father stands responsible for protecting my purity and person. Now, I considered rewording that based on several doctrinal beliefs, but I left it as is because I hope you’ll understand my meaning. I understand that this will be different for every family, my father is different in this regard than your father, maybe, but I just wanted to make sure it got pointed out. Just because there’s a good job out there that you would love to have that fills all of the requirements and allows you to keep the people priority that you talked about above, doesn’t mean that it is the perfect job if your father does not give this blessing. Girls CANNOT use this as an excuse to get out of hard work, yet the blessing of their father is crucial.
    Another thing, there is strength in numbers. “If two shall walk together, if two shall sleep together, if two…” My family has a principle that we do things in pairs for protection and accountability. I am a strong, rather stocky girl, yet what is more vulnerable than a single woman traveling alone?? Again, this is on a family-by-family basis, but I just wanted to share this thought. Going out of my comfort zone is a good thing, but maybe consider that somethings are out of our comfort zone for a reason? True, humans tend to fall into doing only what is comfortable for them, and we need to fight that tendency to float, yet I’m sure you realize that there are boundaries to that.
    Thank you, Allison, for listening and for being so gracious to answer my questions. You are such an encouragement to me and I will continue to be a faithful reader! 🙂 Love you, girl!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Clara!
      I was happy to do the post and am grateful it was a blessing!
      I think I do understand what you’re saying, but I would approach some facets of this issue a little differently than you.
      I will share a few of my thoughts here, but please keep in mind that age can change the dynamics of these issues hugely, and my relationship with my father and how I operate in decision making etc is different at 23 than 17.
      While my father provides counsel and direction when I ask (and of course he is free to give it even if I don’t!), and I am very grateful for his role in my life, he has sought to raise me to be able to care for myself when I am out and about in the world, and to be able to make decisions independently when needed. This doesn’t mean I never consult him; quite the contrary. It does, however, mean that he doesn’t take sole responsibility for my safety or decisions, as he has raised me to seek God and make wise decisions, as well as be prepared and confident in any situation, including traveling or working alone, which I do often (or even living alone if needed, as I have done as well). He also sees me as accountable to God first, and doesn’t see a need to have me accompanied by anyone to provide accountability. Accountability is an important thing, but in my life this means conversations with wise people (such as my parents) about what is going on in my life, how I am doing spiritually, dreams + things God is laying on my heart, etc.
      I know that many families subscribe to the whole “go out in two’s” principle, but again, this is not a Biblical issue, and from what I have seen of life, it is highly impractical for grown single adults, including women. (Of course, it is a totally different issue with children.)
      As to the employer issue, I think this depends greatly on age and situation. Your father can often see things you may not see, and you do well to seek his wisdom when considering possible employment. He likely has your best interests at heart and won’t want to keep you from something that would be a really good fit for you. My father is certainly wiser than I am, and I am always grateful for his counsel that has helped me so many times, sometimes to do something I would not have otherwise, and sometimes to be kept from something I wanted but that would not have been good for me (as in a certain job offer when I was a teenager that would have been disastrous, but I really wanted to do).
      Thank you again for writing, Clara! I hope this made sense and didn’t confuse you further!
      Blessings,
      Allison
      ps. also one thing that comes to mind is the concept that children are gradually given more freedom in decision making and such. Teenage girls should operate differently in conjunction with authority than girls in their 20’s. This is healthy and can definitely vary from family to family and even child to child as far as when and how this process happens. Some of the kids in our family were making more of their own decisions at a younger age based on maturity and personality.
      It’s not a formula, but each individual and family seeking God and trying to live to love and please Him in every way!

      1. Thank you for your response, Allison!! That made a lot of sense and really made a lot of what you said previously more clear to me. Thank you for being willing to explain… 🙂

  7. Excellent post, Allison! I especially loved this paragraph:
    “Girls, there is not a list of “men’s work” and “women’s work” in the Word of God. There are structures laid out for leadership in the nation, church, + family, but the Bible doesn’t say that a woman shouldn’t do work that includes lifting heavy things, having male employees under her, getting down + dirty, driving big equipment, etc.”
    Oh, and this: “Girls need to cultivate loving hearts and deep character instead of spending their youth reading romance novels and writing lists of “what he must be”. They should start becoming a gracious + wise + sturdy girl who would make a good helper to a good, Godly, man of vision and purpose.”
    Yes, yes, yes!! Encouraging AND convicting. This is what I’ve been realizing lately, and need to act on a LOT more. Thank you!

  8. Allison, Thank you for this post. I agree with Celia above that this may be your best post yet! I know that you had young ladies in mind when you wrote this, but I want you to know that it has inspired me, even though I am a 51-year old grandmother! May God bless you in all the ways that you are serving Him.

  9. Thank you for this. I have never seen or really looked for a biblical point of view in terms of “women” and “men” jobs, but I always thought that there were some jobs that were only meant for certain genders; at the same time, I am definitely a more stocky person, and always enjoyed farm work and physical labour type of jobs, as well as wanting to do things that my brothers always do (like working with cars…). I started to realize my inconsistency, and this post helped me make the decision not to label jobs based on male or female roles (as long as I can help people out and do it in a skirt, why not?).

  10. I love this post!! You bring out some really good points that can help us keep in balance…not adopting masculinity but not reducing our femininity to weakness. God has given us work to be done!

  11. Wow! Thank you, I enjoyed reading that so much (so much so, that I’ve actually for the first time in my life posted a comment on a blog!) The Proverbs 31 woman is a great example of spiritual principles that should govern our lives and your passion for the subject really shines through. I work part time and I am amazed at what I’ve been able to do on my non working days – making baby gifts for friends, helping friends with their families, cooking for sick families, doing bible study, reading the bible with other ladies… the list goes on! As a single in my 30’s I’ve really come to see in the last few years how fulfilling it is to serve others and make every moment count in my efforts to manifest God’s character in my life. We may be in very different religious denominations but I’ve found many of your posts encouraging and helpful in making the most of my life in service to God and the narrow path that leads to life (Matt 7:14) so thank you.

    1. Beth, I am so thrilled by your comment! I love your heart for working hard and serving others, making the most of your life in service to Christ. Truly, this is why we are here. Blessings as you journey on with Him!

  12. Allison, thanks so much for studying this topic out in Scripture and sharing it with us! I agree that it is easy to be soft…this was convicting for me! Your encouragement to be virtuous, strong, loving women for Jesus was just what I needed to hear!

    1. You are so welcome, Elizabeth! Thanks for the comment- cheers as you keep working to become that sturdy + virtuous woman!

  13. Oh. My. Goodness. Girl!!! I seriously am 100% positive this is your best post yet! + I love them all.:) All of your points were just fabulous. I love how you brought out God’s purpose + plan for us ladies, instead of making up a list of women vs men. Because it is so NOT all about rules. It’s about embracing the incredibly special feminine nature God has blessed us with. It’s about being “strong to handle whatever challenge life throws us”.
    As a fellow “workaholic” I so appreciate these straightforward truths. God does not want a bunch of wimps that can’t survive without a husband to do the tough stuff. Yes! We can be strong, capable women that get things DONE! Some of the things I most admire in a woman are strength, honor, grace, courage, humility. Love how you brought out about girls needing to know how to do more than keep house. Yes, God’s design for the home is beautiful + if that is what He gifts us with, we should embrace it. But we totally need to be well rounded enough to follow whatever path He leads us to. It can be difficult in a culture that is so focused on making men + women the same. We are so not. We are gloriously different in many ways. Love this encouragement to embrace our calling; to become women of the Lord who are strong enough to stand yet humble enough to kneel.
    Whew! This is crazy long. Enough of that. Just THANK YOU for saying the things that so need to be said. love you dear!

    1. Celia, so grateful for your heart! And thanks for the encouragement.:) Amen to everything you said……especially, “We are gloriously different in many ways……..to become women of the Lord who are strong enough to stand yet humble enough to kneel.”

I'd love to hear your thoughts!