A woman would tend to be more impressed with a man being an aerospace engineeeing than an MTA subway car cleaner. Same man would be talked to differently and afforded a different amount of respect and stature than the subway car cleaner. There is a reason why the beauty industry is STILL a billion dollar industry and the male virility and "manly man" success market has exploded.
Woman in aerospace are also treated with respect. (honestly, a lot of respect -- people tend assume they are even smarter than the boys). You are comparing social class/education, not gender.
Men spend more money every year on how they look. They also have pressure to look certain ways for certain jobs -- my colorist and I were discussing this. She has a number of male clients who have her touch up their grey without covering all of it -- they feel a little grey makes them look wise, but a lot of grey makes them look old. They come in more often than her female clients because they wear their hair shorter and therefore growth is more obvious.
I don't live on the east coast and haven't been there in years, however, if what you are saying is true about where you live, then it isn't very liberal. Go west! Really far west! But don't tell me I'm naive about where I live. It's insulting, and you don't even know where I live, so you can't know how wrong you are.