I came across an interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News which tackles the concept of “occupational segregation.” What is it about?
Despite the women’s movement and the changes that occurred in the 70′s and 80′s that helped women make larger strides in the workforce, social economists are now saying that the progress that allowed the gender crossover in jobs may have stalled a bit since the last decade. The social scientists call this “occupational segregation” and they don’t seem to be too happy about it.
Why the need to have a more equal workforce?
#1 To narrow the pay gap
Women earn 25% less than men do in general. But the reason why everyone harps about women getting less money than men do in their jobs is because of the type of jobs that most women find themselves in. If a man finds himself working in a “female” oriented job, he ends up earning 12.5 percent less than his male counterparts; whereas a woman who works in a “male” dominated field earns 25.9 percent more than her female peers. So interestingly, it’s all about the job type that changes the averages here.
#2 To better respond to shortages in fields, jobs, industries
Instead of getting worked up over perceived shortages in certain professions, it would be great if the labor pool can be easily balanced out by drawing from a supply of trained men or women to cover the skill gaps. But this is tough to achieve in reality because job stereotyping by gender is alive and well and is hard to vanquish. Even with laws out there that encourage openness in professions, the enforcement of sexual discrimination laws has been weak.
Data from the San Jose Mercury News:
The 10 Most Female Occupations
(highest percentage of workers that are female)
|Occupation||% Female||Annual Wage|
|Preschool and kindergarten teachers||97.7%||$21,990|
|Secretaries and administrative assistants||96.9%||$26,670|
|Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses||94.2%||$35,230|
|Child care workers||94.2%||$17,050|
|Hairdressers, hair stylists and cosmetologists||93.4%||$20,610|
|Receptionists and information clerks||92.7%||$22,150|
|Payroll and timekeeping clerks||92.4%||$31,360|
The 10 Most Male Occupations
(highest percentage of workers that are male)
|Occupation||% Male||Annual Wage|
|Automotive body and related repairers||99.4%||$34,810|
|Cement masons, concrete finishers and terrazzo workers||99.3%||$32,030|
|Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists||99.1%||$36,620|
|Electrical power-line installers and repairers||99.1%||$50,150|
|Tool and die makers||99.1%||$43,580|
|Heavy vehicle/mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics||98.6%||$39,410|
|Home appliance repairers||98.5%||$32,980|
|Crane and tower operators||98.5%||$38,870|
But how do we really feel about gender crossovers in the workplace? How comfortable would you be to see men in the maternity ward and day care centers or women in trucking, construction and heavy machinery operations? Strangely, I’m reading some reports which contradict the pay gap issues, such as this article, which appears that in less traditional and more gender blind type jobs, women in fact are earning more than men!
So don’t cry for the women yet, because reports are popping up about how they are gaining more lucrative jobs at a better pace than men are doing in the last several years.
It would be great to achieve an ideal employment balance on a national scale and I believe we’re still very much headed in the right direction. But I don’t lose sleep over the preponderance of traditional jobs today. We have immigration resolving job shortage issues (though that’s another hot topic!), plus there are less gender specific jobs out there that we can always try to gain skills for.
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