Sex and Salespeople

Given that the people who use washers, dryers, ovens, dishwashers, and the like are usually female, I find it puzzling that the people who sell these items are usually male.  Especially because it’s inconsistent with the rest of the sales world, in which men tend to sell things men use, such as hardware and men’s clothing, and women tend to sell things women use, such as cosmetics and women’s clothing.

Hypothesis #1 – The current sexist state of affairs is just a carry-over from the days when all salespeople were male.  Gee, I don’t think men ever sold cosmetics or women’s clothing.  (And even if this were so, why is the field of kitchen appliances the last to evolve?)

Hypothesis #2 – These are big heavy items and so the superior strength of men is needed.  Well, the salespeople don’t have to move ’em, they just have to sell ’em.  (And even if they did have to move them, your average appliance salesman is not exactly Arnold Schwarzenegger.)  (And anyway, ever hear of a lever?  A cart?  And, hang onto your hats, a forklift?)

Hypothesis #3- Men sell the more expensive thingsbecause they want the higher commission, or because they need the higher commission, or because only they are responsible enough to handle such large sums of money.  Wedding gowns often cost more than a washer and dryer put together, but women sell these.  

Hypothesis #4 – These are machinesand men know more about machines.  Despite its lack of truth (at best, this is generally true), this is, so far, the hypothesis most consistent with the rest of reality.  But what about sewing machines?  Who sells sewing machines?  And coffee-makers?  (Men don’t seem to know that these machines even exist.)

So where are we – what, to judge by sex in the sales field, is still considered the man’s domain?

[1]  Big things.  Well, that’s no surprise.  The size thing is really really hard to get over.  (Get over it!)  Most people still think men are generally bigger than women.  Yes, generally they weigh more.  And yes, generally they’re taller.  But inch for inch, I’m not sure they take up more space than women (real women): our chest measurement is often larger, our hips are broader, we’ve got bigger thighs, and we’ve got bigger asses.

[2]  Expensive things.  Also no surprise, this is a relic of the breadwinner days despite its obvious non-applicability today.  My guess is that there are as many self-supporting women as men and that in most mixed sex families, both the man and the woman provide financial support.

[3]  Machine things.  What is it about things that plug in or make a lot of noise that women do not or can not or will not get comfortable with – or men do not or can not or will not think women can get comfortable with?  Socialization?  Dick used the lawnmower, Jane used a dustcloth.  Education?  Dick took shop and got to see what a gear and a circuit look like and how they work; Jane never got to do that – they remain a mystery.  Is it that machines evolved along with outdoor stuff?  (When women were inside with the babies – washing diapers by hand.)  (Tell me again why washers and dryers took so long to invent.)

Put it all together and you get the ultimate male domain: cars.  They’re big, expensive machines.  Which is why, perhaps, a woman on the showroom floor is so very very radical.  (Wait a minute.  Women drive cars, don’t they?)

All in all, the division of sales by sex is illogical.  (Wait a minute, isn’t logic a male thing?)  My guess is if you put a few women on the showroom floor, be it with cars, computers, or stereos (or washers, dryers, ovens, and dishwashers), your customer base would double – so the division of sales by sex is also bad for business.  (And wait a minute, isn’t taking care of business a male thing?)


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