Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke
Chapter 13: Occupational segregation and the gender wage gap in the US
Women are now roughly half of the workforce, but that parity in the overall labor force has not translated into a balanced distribution of men and women across jobs and occupations. Occupational segregation, with men working in jobs that are predominantly male and women working in jobs that are predominantly female, remains a strong feature of the labor market in the US and other industrialized countries. In the 1970s and 1980s, occupational segregation fell rapidly, as women moved into fields and jobs such as law, accounting, pharmacy, bus driving, and postal mail carriers, which previously had been virtually closed to them. Yet other occupations such as nursing (female) or engineering (male) saw hardly any change in their stark gender distribution. Moreover, since the late 1990s, there has been no further progress toward integration of occupations and indeed, if anything, the trend seems to be toward further segregation. This holds for all age groups, including younger women. In the US in 2010, among full-time workers, over four out of five women (41.1 percent) and close to five out of 10 men (49.3 percent) worked in an occupation where at least 75 percent of other workers were also of that gender (Hegewisch et al., 2011).
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