Occupational Sex Segregation

          As we saw earlier, the percent of women in the labor force has increased in recent decades. Contemporary women have a wider range of choices about what careers to pursue. However, to a considerable extent, men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs. For many of the occupations listed below, you may be able to guess which are male-dominated and which are female-dominated jobs. The segregation of men and women into different occupations is called “occupational sex segregation”.

          The patterns of occupational sex segregation have changed somewhat since 1970. Women have made substantial in-roads into several previously male-dominated occupations. Some previously male-dominated occupations have even become predominantly female. Other occupations have remained predominantly female.

Key Concepts

Race

Race/ethnicity cannot be reliably determined for 1970 for the six categories introduced in Topic two.  Therefore, Race is simply coded as Black or Nonblack for this module.

Earnings (Topic two) Note:  One set of earnings categories is used for doctors and lawyers in this module, and a different set is used for the other occupations and All Workers.

          Note:  Earnings from the 1990 census refers earnings in 1989.  Earnings from the 1970 and 1980 censuses refer to earnings for 1969 and 1979, respectively, but they have been translated into equivalent 1989 dollars for easy comparison.

Age (Topic one)

Cohort (Topic one)

Occupation (Topic two)

Gender (Topic six)

A. Gender Composition of the Labor Force

          In this exercise, we will examine changes in the sex composition of 15 different occupational groups. We will also examine the gender differences in earnings in these occupations.

          Below is a list of the occupations included in this exercise. Each team will focus on three specific occupations. Different teams will focus on different sets of occupations. The list also indicates which occupations each team will study and which data files are needed in order to obtain data for the assigned occupation. Additionally, each team will look at trends for all workers. This will provide a benchmark, or comparison point, for the specific occupations that the team is studying. The data for all workers is found in the file EARNFT79.

Team A                Occupation                             Data Files Needed

Occupation 1          Lawyers                                   LAWYER79

Occupation 2          Registered nurses                      NURSE79

Occupation 3        Public relations specialists          PUBREL79

Team B

Occupation 1          Physicians                                DOCTOR79

Occupation 2          Librarians                                 LBRARY79

Occupation 3          Pharmacists                               DRUGST79

Team C

Occupation 1          Engineers                                 ENGNER79

Occupation 2          Secretaries                                SCRTRY79

Occupation 3        Real estate agents                     ESTATE79

Team D

Occupation 1        Auto mechanics                        MECHNC79

Occupation 2        Bank tellers                               BTELLR79

Occupation 3          Insurance adjusters                INSURE79

Team E

Occupation 1          Carpenters                                CRPNTR79

Occupation 2          Elementary school teachers          TEACHR79

Occupation 3        Bus drivers                                      BUSDRV79

Exercise 1. Write down the occupations you are studying and the number of workers in each occupation. (The number is actually the sum from all three census years.  This number is displayed when you open the file. ) (The data for All Workers are found in EARNFT79.)

                                       Name                              Number of workers

          Occupation 1          _______________                _______________

          Occupation 2          _______________                _______________     

          Occupation 3          _______________                _______________

                                       All Workers                _______________

Exercise 2. Using data from 1970 to 1990, examine changes in the percent female in your assigned occupations. Did your occupations remain male-dominated, remain female-dominated, or become increasingly female? Examine changes in the percent female in the overall civilian work force (use file EARNFT79). As you see, the percent female in the overall workforce increased substantially from 1970 to 1990. Did the percent female in your occupations increase more, less, or the about same as for the overall workforce?

                                       P E R C E N T     F E M A L E

                                1970               1980               1990

Occupation 1:          __________                 __________                 __________

Occupation 2:          __________                 __________                 __________

Occupation 3:          __________                 __________                 __________

All workers:          __________                 __________                 __________                

Exercise 3. How has the gender distribution of the paid labor force changed over time? Complete the following table to see the gender distribution of each age group and for all workers in 1970, 1980, and 1990.

All Workers

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

Did the percent female among workers 25-34 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? Did the percent female among workers 35-44 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? What about for workers 45-54? And workers 55-64? What generationalizations would you make?

Exercise 4. Compare the data for men and women who were age 25-34 in 1970 to the data for men and women who were age 35-44 in 1980 and age 45-54 in 1990. Do you notice any patterns? These data refer to the same birth cohort at different points in time. This is the cohort born in 1936-1945. Topic one refers to this cohort as the “World War II” cohort.

          Next, compare the data for men and women who were age 25-34 in 1980 to the data for men and women who were age 35-44 in 1990. Do you notice any patterns? These data refer to the cohort born in 1946-1955. Topic one refers to this cohort as the “Early Baby Boom” cohort.

          Altogether, six cohorts can be identified in the tables you created above. They are:

Name of cohort            Birth years          Comment

World War I                    1906-1915            Age 55-64 in 1970

Roaring Twenties                1916-1925            Age 45-54 in 1970

Depression                     1926-1935           Age 35-44 in 1970

World War II                 1936-1945            Age 25-34 in 1970

Early Baby Boom           1946-1955            Age 25-34 in 1980

Late Baby Boom           1956-1965            Age 25-34 in 1990

          Look at the labor force participation rates for these cohorts. Did any of the cohorts enter the paid labor force earlier than other cohorts? Did any of the cohorts stay in the paid labor force longer than other cohorts?

Exercise 5. How has the gender distribution of occupation 1 changed over time? Complete the following table to see the gender distribution of each age group and for all workers in occupation 1 in 1970, 1980, and 1990. (This table is just like the one for Exercise 3, except that it is for occupation 1.)

Occupation 1

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

Did the percent female among workers 25-34 in occupation 1 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? Did the percent female among workers 35-44 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? What about for workers 45-54? And workers 55-64? What generationalizations would you make?

Exercise 6. Compare the data for men and women in occupation 1 who were age 25-34 in 1970 to the data for men and women who were age 35-44 in 1980 and age 45-54 in 1990. Do you notice any patterns? These data refer, of course, to the “World War II” cohort.

          Next, examine the data for the “Early Baby Boom” cohort in 1980 and 1990. Do you notice any patterns?

Exercise 7. How has the gender distribution of occupation 2 changed over time? Complete the following table to see the gender distribution of each age group and for all workers in occupation 2 in 1970, 1980, and 1990. (This table is just like the one for Exercise 3, except that it is for occupation 2.)

Occupation 2

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

Did the percent female among workers 25-34 in occupation 2 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? Did the percent female among workers 35-44 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? What about for workers 45-54? And workers 55-64? What generationalizations would you make?

Exercise 8. Compare the data for men and women in occupation 2 who were age 25-34 in 1970 to the data for men and women who were age 35-44 in 1980 and age 45-54 in 1990. Do you notice any patterns? These data refer, of course, to the “World War II” cohort.

          Next, examine the data for the “Early Baby Boom” cohort in 1980 and 1990. Do you notice any patterns?

Exercise 9. How has the gender distribution of occupation 3 changed over time? Complete the following table to see the gender distribution of each age group and for all workers in occupation 3 in 1970, 1980, and 1990. (This table is just like the one for Exercise 3, except that it is for occupation 3.)

Occupation 3

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

                    100%           100%           100%           100%           100%

Did the percent female among workers 25-34 in occupation 3 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? Did the percent female among workers 35-44 change from 1970 to 1980? Did it change from 1980 to 1990? What about for workers 45-54? And workers 55-64? What generationalizations would you make?

Exercise 10. Compare the data for men and women in occupation 3 who were age 25-34 in 1970 to the data for men and women who were age 35-44 in 1980 and age 45-54 in 1990. Do you notice any patterns? These data refer, of course, to the “World War II” cohort.

          Next, examine the data for the “Early Baby Boom” cohort in 1980 and 1990. Do you notice any patterns?

B. Gender Differences in Earnings

Exercise 11. Using data from 1970 to 1990, look at the relationship between gender and earnings. For your assigned occupations, calculate the percent of men and percent of women who earned $30,000 or more in each year. Then, make the same calculations for the overall workforce.  

          In the overall workforce, did the gender gap in income increase, decrease, or remain about the same from 1970 to 1990? (Here, “gender gap in income” means the percent of men making $30,000 minus the percent of women making $30,000.) For the other three occupations, did the gender gap in income change more or not as much as for the overall workforce?

                             PERCENT WHO EARNED $30,000 OR MORE

                                 1970                 1980                              1990______     

       Women             Men       Women             Men       Women           Men

Occupation 1

Occupation 2

Occupation 3

All workers

Exercise 12. Among all people in the paid labor force (EARNFT79), calculate the percent of men and the percent of women in each age group who earned $30,000 or more in 1970. Repeat for 1980 and 1990. (Recall that earnings for all three periods have been translated into equivalent 1989 dollars.) (Hint:  You will need two control variables.  Also, use the “% diff” option.  Make men the “positive group” and make women the “negative group.”)

PERCENT WHO EARNED $30,000 OR MORE: ALL WORKERS

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

Exercise 13. Looking at the column for “All” workers, did the gender gap in earnings (as defined in Exercise 11) narrow, expand, or remain about the same over the period 1970 to 1980?  What about from 1980 to 1990?  Is the change in the gender gap in earnings different for some age groups than others? To answer this, first compare 25-34 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gender gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? Next compare 35-44 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? What about for 45-54 year-olds? What about for 55-64 year-olds? Summarize your findings.

Exercise 14. Compare the percent of women in each age group earning $30,000 in 1970 to the percent of women in the same age group earning $30,000 in 1980. (For example, compare 25-34 year-old women in 1970 to 25-34 year-old women in 1980.) Did the percent of women earning $30,000 for any specific age group increase more than for all women in the paid labor force? Make similar comparison between 1980 and 1990. What generalizations would you make? Is there any particular cohort of women for which earnings improved substantially over time?

          Next, follow each cohort of women from one cohort to the next. How does the percent earning $30,000 change over time for each cohort? For example, what percent of women age 25-34 in 1970 were earning $30,000 in 1970? Compare to women age 35-44 in 1980 and to women age 45-54 in 1990. (This is the same cohort at three points in time.) Remember, there are six cohorts to follow.

          Repeat the analysis for men.

Exercise 15. Among all people in occupation 1, calculate the percent of men and the percent of women in each age group who earned $30,000 or more in 1970. Repeat for 1980 and 1990. (This table is like the table in Exercise 12, except it is for occupation 1.)  (Hint:  You will need two control variables.  Also, use the “% diff” option.  Make men the “positive group” and make women the “negative group.”)

PERCENT WHO EARNED $30,000 OR MORE: OCCUPATION 1

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

Exercise 16. Looking at the column for “All” workers in occupation 1, did the gender gap in earnings narrow, expand, or remain about the same over the period 1970 to 1980? What about from 1980 to 1990?  Is the change in the gender gap in earnings different for some age groups than others? To answer this, first compare 25-34 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gender gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? Next compare 35-44 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gap narrow, expand or remain about the same? What about for 45-54 year-olds? What about for 55-64 year-olds? Summarize your findings.

          How did the gender gap in earnings for occupation 1 compare to the change in the gender gap for all workers in the paid labor force? Was the change for occupation 1 greater than, less than, or about the same as for all workers in the paid labor force? Are there any especially noteworthy differences for particular age groups?

Exercise 17. For occupation 1, compare the percent of women in each age group earning $30,000 in 1970 to the percent of women in the same age group earning $30,000 in 1980. (For example, compare 25-34 year-old women in 1970 to 25-34 year-old women in 1980.) Did the percent of women earning $30,000 for any specific age group increase more than for all women in the paid labor force? Make similar comparison between 1980 and 1990. What generalizations would you make? Is there any particular cohort of women for which earnings in occupation 1 improved substantially over time?

          Next, follow each cohort of women from one cohort to the next. How does the percent earning $30,000 change over time for each cohort? For example, what percent of women age 25-34 in 1970 were earning $30,000 in 1970? Compare to women age 35-44 in 1980 and to women age 45-54 in 1990. (This is the same cohort at three points in time.) Remember, there are six cohorts to follow.

          Repeat the analysis for men.

Exercise 18. Among all people in occupation 2, calculate the percent of men and the percent of women in each age group who earned $30,000 or more in 1970. Repeat for 1980 and 1990. (This table is like the table in Exercise 12, except it is for occupation 2.)  (Hint:  You will need two control variables.  Also, use the “% diff” option.  Make men the “positive group” and make women the “negative group.”)

PERCENT WHO EARNED $30,000 OR MORE: OCCUPATION 2

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

Exercise 19. Looking at the column for “All” workers in occupation 2, did the gender gap in earnings narrow, expand, or remain about the same over the period 1970 to 1980? What about from 1980 to 1990?  Is the change in the gender gap in earnings different for some age groups than others? To answer this, first compare 25-34 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gender gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? Next compare 35-44 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? What about for 45-54 year-olds? What about for 55-64 year-olds? Summarize your findings.

          How did the gender gap in earnings for occupation 2 compare to the change in the gender gap for all workers in the paid labor force? Was the change for occupation 2 greater than, less than, or about the same as for all workers in the paid labor force? Are there any especially noteworthy differences for particular age groups?

Exercise 20. For occupation 2, compare the percent of women in each age group earning $30,000 in 1970 to the percent of women in the same age group earning $30,000 in 1980. (For example, compare 25-34 year-old women in 1970 to 25-34 year-old women in 1980.) Did the percent of women earning $30,000 for any specific age group increase more than for all women in the paid labor force? Make similar comparison between 1980 and 1990. What generalizations would you make? Is there any particular cohort of women for which earnings in occupation 2 improved substantially over time?

          Next, follow each cohort of women from one cohort to the next. How does the percent earning $30,000 change over time for each cohort? For example, what percent of women age 25-34 in 1970 were earning $30,000 in 1970? Compare to women age 35-44 in 1980 and to women age 45-54 in 1990. (This is the same cohort at three points in time.) Remember, there are six cohorts to follow.

          Repeat the analysis for men.

Exercise 21. Among all people in occupation 3, calculate the percent of men and the percent of women in each age group who earned $30,000 or more in 1970. Repeat for 1980 and 1990. (This table is like the table in Exercise 12, except it is for occupation 3.)  (Hint:  You will need two control variables.  Also, use the “% diff” option.  Make men the “positive group” and make women the “negative group.”)

PERCENT WHO EARNED $30,000 OR MORE: OCCUPATION 3

1970            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1980            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

1990            25-34           35-44           45-54           55-64           All

  Women

  Men

  All

  % diff

Exercise 22. Looking at the column for “All” workers in occupation 3, did the gender gap in earnings narrow, expand, or remain about the same over the period 1970 to 1980? What about from 1980 to 1990?  Is the change in the gender gap in earnings different for some age groups than others? To answer this, first compare 25-34 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gender gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? Next compare 35-44 year-olds in 1970, 1980, and 1990. Did the gap narrow, expand, or remain about the same? What about for 45-54 year-olds? What about for 55-64 year-olds? Summarize your findings.

          How did the gender gap in earnings for occupation 3 compare to the change in the gender gap for all workers in the paid labor force? Was the change for occupation 3 greater than, less than, or about the same as for all workers in the paid labor force? Are there any especially noteworthy differences for particular age groups?

Exercise 23. For occupation 3, compare the percent of women in each age group earning $30,000 in 1970 to the percent of women in the same age group earning $30,000 in 1980. (For example, compare 25-34 year-old women in 1970 to 25-34 year-old women in 1980.) Did the percent of women earning $30,000 for any specific age group increase more than for all women in the paid labor force? Make similar comparison between 1980 and 1990. What generalizations would you make? Is there any particular cohort of women for which earnings in occupation 3 improved substantially over time?

          Next, follow each cohort of women from one cohort to the next. How does the percent earning $30,000 change over time for each cohort? For example, what percent of women age 25-34 in 1970 were earning $30,000 in 1970? Compare to women age 35-44 in 1980 and to women age 45-54 in 1990. (This is the same cohort at three points in time.) Remember, there are six cohorts to follow.

          Repeat the analysis for men.

Discussion Questions

[Note: The first two questions were also raised in the section on Gender Inequality. It is useful to think about them again.]

1. What factors affect a woman’s occupational choice? A man’s?

2. How does society perceive occupations traditionally held by women? Men? Do you think that society places a different value on occupations held mostly by women as compared to occupations held mostly by men?

3. Why do you think men usually have higher earnings than women?

References

Beller, Andrea.  “Trends in Occupational Segregation by Sex and Race, 1960-1981.”  Pp. 11-26 in Barbara F. Reskin (ed.), Sex Segregation in the Workplace:  Trends, Explanations, Remedies.  Washington, DC:  National Academy Press, 1984.

Bianchi, Suzanne M. and Daphne Spain.  “Labor Force Participation and Occupational Composition.”  Pp. 139-166 in Bianchi and Spain, American Women in Transition, New York:  Russell Sage Foundation, 1986.

Bianchi, Suzanne M. and Daphne Spain.  “Earnings.”  Pp. 169-198 in Bianchi and Spain, American Women in Transition, New York:  Russell Sage Foundation, 1986.

Bianchi, Suzanne.  “Changing Economic Roles of Women and Men.”  Pp. 107-154 in Reynolds Farley (ed.) State of the Union, America in the 1990s.  Volume One:  Economic Trends.  New York:  Russell Sage Foundation, 1995.

England, Paula and Irene Browne.  “Trends in Women’s Economic Status.”  Sociological Perspectives 35:17-51, 1992.

Roos, Patricia A. and Barbara A. Reskin.  “Occupational Desegregation in the 1970s:  Integration and Economic Equity.”  Sociological Perspectives 35:69-91, 1992.