A Closer Look

Gender Occupational Segregation in US – Continues to hover near 50 percent

A deeper examination of women and men’s labor market outcomes reveals another important way that gender disparities still manifest: the separation of men and women into different occupations. Women still tend to work in very different jobs than men, and occupational segregation has changed little over the last two decades, as shown in the figure below. This segregation, measured as the sum of the differences between percentages of men and women in each occupation, continues to hover near 50 percent, meaning occupations (weighted by employment) are on average 75/25 male or 75/25 female. While the lack of recent progress is not fully understood, we do know that occupational segregation is linked to a number of factors including the need for job flexibility, social norms, and labor market discrimination, among others.

The separation of men and women into different occupations can have important implications for wages, given that women are disproportionately represented in lower-paid occupations. It is not entirely clear whether this is because women are excluded from high-paid professions or because once an occupation is dominated by women it becomes lower paid. Regardless, this segregation contributes to women earning less and may make it harder for some women to enter certain fields. For example, women make up only 14 percent of employed 25–54 year old electrical engineering majors, but have median earnings of $85,000 when they fall into this group. By contrast, women make up 96 percent of early childhood education majors and earn only $37,000 per year with that degree (see figure below).

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at How women are still left behind in the labor market


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