Jobism: Looking down on other jobs


This article is contributed by: Andy Tay


There’s racism, sexism…but have you heard of “jobism”? Have you noticed how stereotypes about certain jobs  have impacted our career choices, more than you imagine?

Lets first define the word “Jobism”.



(no… this is not Jobism)


“Jobism”  refers to job-related statements/influences that most Singaporeans would have encountered whilst growing up.

When you were a toddler, remember how parents may have issued this threat if you were misbehaving?

“You naughty some more later the police come catch you!”


Or when in school, and was somewhat lazy in studying for exams or completing homework, this was said in an effort to scare us?

“Better study hard, or else later become toilet cleaner/rubbish collector/karang guni man!”

Subconsciously from a tender age, we have been indoctrinated by this formula: low wage work= dangerous, dirty, difficult, demeaning. Your grandparent might even cry a family tragedy if you ever took on any of these jobs.

Remember when you were a kid, maybe in Primary school and the teacher asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

If you said doctor, banker or lawyer, you would have gotten the smile of approval from your teacher.

If you mentioned “cool” careers like a nurse, policeman, fireman, astronaut, she would have still given you a cute nod.

But if you went “I want to be an artist, musician etc”, you would have been shot a look of aghast, like…“What?! No pay no future… not safe, better study hard so you have something to fall back on”.

As we climbed further up the education system, especially in secondary school and moving towards Junior College or Polytechnic, we were faced with another dilemma. What course should I study or which faculty should I join?

Magazines and newspapers write colourful reports and opinions about which industries were booming, “up-and-coming”. You would be able to read about the abundance of high paying jobs with dazzling career paths. Oh yes…the promise of a well-paying job certainly drew a fair bit of people in that direction.

All that is jobism.

I still remember the days where  the “in thing”  was to study Engineering or Biotechnology. The promise was this:  if you didn’t want to be an engineer after your studies, the training would serve you well in any other industry.

And if you were unsure, or couldn’t make it into that dream faculty, its ok! Just do a “general course” like Business (more money!) or Accounting (recession-proof !)

A job is a job. A respectful job that earns a man a dignified salary is still a job.

I recall this quote, by John Lennon:




We need to undo “Jobism”. We must respect careers our fellow humans have chose for themselves.  And the most successful person, is one who is happy with what he/she does and pursues it to the furthest of their abilities.








Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.