New Barriers and Continuing Constraints
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette
Chapter 6: Feminising Professions in Britain and France: How Countries Differ
1 Nicky Le Feuvre INTRODUCTION Most of the existing research on the feminisation of management and professional levels of the occupational hierarchy begin by recognising the significant inroads women have made into these occupations over the past twenty years, before going on to stress the ambivalent nature of such progress, notably in terms of internal occupational segregation, reduced promotion chances for women, and pay differences. Our own contributions to this field of study have attempted to unravel the precise significance of the progressive entry of women into such former ‘male bastions’, in a context characterised by the adoption of a series of equal opportunity (EO) measures, both at European (Commission européenne 2006) and national level (Crompton and Le Feuvre 2000; Le Feuvre 2006; Le Feuvre 2009). Most of the existing EO legislation is based on the implicit assumption that the level of women’s access to managerial and professional occupations provides a reliable empirical measurement of the reduction in gender inequalities in the labour market. Thus, policy makers aim to increase the representation of women in those sectors of the labour market where they have been historically under-represented and tend to read any increase in the rate of feminisation as a sign of an advance in gender equality generally. The rationale behind such EO policy objectives is rarely questioned, despite increasing evidence that new forms of gender inequality rapidly emerge as women gain access to those professions or occupational groups from which they were previously excluded (Kantola 2008; Schultz and...
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