Gender Segregation in the Workforce


25 Jul 2017

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  1. The occupational sex segregation in various countries

It has commonly been assumed that, the gender inequality in occupations is reflected in many aspects, such as the pay gap, gender discrimination, education qualification, traditional patriarchy concept and welfare. The essay are mainly focus on the occupational sex segregation, it is likely that senior job position almost attribute to male, female often stay lower statues in career. For example, women are often excluded from tradesmen, as the spelling of the word implied, "tradesmen" seems like male-dominant. The segregation is quite obvious in occupations, (Barbalescu and Bidwell 2013) found that men prefer the job in construction, medicine, law, engineering while women are defined as cheap labor force and the substitute of men, their job are considered as unskilled, non-professional and less paid (England, 2005).

In the UK, women were expected out of labor market in the past, in 1980, less than 1 percentage women are profession and male as breadwinner in family. By 2002, the percentage of women profession increased by 40. By 2011, there is about 30 percent increase in female earner and small grow in dual-earner which exceeds the percentage of traditional male breadwinner (Rubery and Rafferty, 2013) but women are still underrepresented in certain jobs. According to Cotter et al (2004), in US, men remain supervisory position in the past, but their status are decline gradually with the continued increase of women's participation in labor market even in male-dominate job, currently, a majority of women are emerged in the work such as teachers, nurse and clerk (Preston, 1993). The essay is based on the literature research to explore the reason of the gender segregation in occupations and how it result the undervaluation of women's work.

  1. Cases of male-dominant and famine-dominant job

Cejka and Eagly (1999) suggested that the male-dominant job requires physical strength, because it is full of competition and under high pressure environment. The masculine character is described as aggressive, brave, courage, endurance and resolute, they are more likely to handle the hard work. For example, construction work are dangerous anytime, with the possibility of death, frequently hurt and getting ill (Health and Safety Executive, 2001,Jones et al., 2003) which always be linked to masculinity.

In film and TV industry, women are less likely to hold the job, according to the study of Lang (2015), in 2014, the proportion of female is just 14ï¼…as film industry directors and only 20ï¼… writers, 8% cinematographers. Besides, there is no obvious increase of women's involvement in this period (Follows, Kreager and Gomes, 2016). Female are limited to direct the film, as a result, they are restricted to be employed or only employed for certain types of work. Furthermore, women have limited ability to gain experience and recourses thus remain lower status. Skillset (2007) described that, a majority of women are more likely to be employed in make-up, dress up, personal assistant and cleaning work. Although the proportion of the entrance to the film and IT industry is nearly half and half, segregation start after they come into the industry ( Follows, Kreager andGomes, 2016). Besides, the job nature are long working hours, women cannot meet physical standard, Gill and Pratt (2008) added that it is difficult to keep and balance friendship, family life and other relations.

Another case are going to be demonstrated is nurse, people apply for nurses are almost female. Base on the data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the ratio of female to male in nurses filed is differential, in Kentucky, female ratio is 12 while male is only 1, the biggest difference is in Iowa and south Carolina, the proportion is 15 female to 1 male, even the smallest gap is 6 to 1 in California. Female are dominant role in nurse, although there has seen some increase in men's participation but still underrepresented (Rappleye, 2015).

Another example of male-dominant job is engineering and science, from Marder (2012) statistic, in 2008, 41 percent men of college student are going to choose the science and engineering as their major while women are only 30 percent. After graduation, men also exceed women in science and engineering field, women obtain only 20 percent degrees which also affect their working condition (Hill, Corbett & Rose, 2010). According to the the report, women shows more interest in the field of biology, social and behavioral sciences than men, but lag in computer science field, as data reveals, women only account for 19 percent of software developers compared to men's leading role in computer science and physics (Marder, 2012).

  1. Jobs can be done by anyone regardless of gender

There are some arguments that, women employed in male-dominant job when the labor is short, they are regarded as labor reserve and substitution. Most people insist that women are weakness that cannot bear the primitive work environment and hard job (Health and Safety Executive, 2001, 2003; Jones et al., 2003).

A majority of female chooses male-type work gradually that break the traditional deep-rooted male privilege and inequity gender segregation (Paechter, 2007). According to Grusky and Charles (2004), in developed countries, the ratio of men and women's dominant work are nearly equal. NHS, start to open permission to anyone, finally, get more profits (Rubery and Rafferty, 2013). As figure shows, women has become an main labor force, in middlesborough, women's participation achieve 55 percent, in Liverpool, the number is 54.5, as for Glasgow and Manchester, the percentage is 51.5, even in Sheffield, it is 50.8 percent (Blackburn, Browne, Brooks, and Jarman, 2002). It is convictive that the gender difference is not the whole thing, women are lack of opportunities to challenge and transform the situation. With more and more tradeswomen emerging, it is proved that most of the construction work can be done by women and overturn the ideology that women cannot do such work, the traditional status of men as supervisor also face the threat, they are lacking power to drive women out of the labor market (Ness, 2012).

Further focus on medicine to explore the jobs can be done by anyone. Based on the numbers, there is an increasing amount of women who are qualified as doctors from 1970, which was seen as men's work formerly, in 2007, most of women are working in medicine field and the number are 10 times greater than before (Crompton & Lyonette, 2011), Now, women doctors even outweighs male doctors in the UK. Khan (2012) predicts that this trend will happen to general practice as well in the further.

Male also increasingly access to female-dominated job which is reflected in nurse. Men are excluded from nurse field previously, now, university encourage men to choose nurse major. From the information collected, only about 3 percent registered nurse is male in 1970 while in 2011, the number increase to about 10 (US Census Bureau, 2013). According to the man who worked as a nurse now, when he is in school from 2008 to 2009, the percentage of male choose to study nurse is only six percent, until he graduates and works in hospital, there is an apparent increase of men work as registered nurses from 147000 of 2.9 million in 2000 to 168000. Wilson (2009) explain that, people believe "nurse" is the title of female, but after engagement, people recognize this is not a sexualization job.

  1. The undervaluation of women's work

It is suggest that sex bias still exist, women are often defined as lower productivity, unskilled, cheap labor force and flexible substitution that are less likely for senior position, even at the time of labor force are not enough, employers are not willing to hire women, so they have limited choice on job and receive lower pay (Blackburn, Browne, Brooks, and Jarman, 2002). Base on the date from Office for Budget Responsibility (2010), women job losing rate are reaching to about 56 percent in 2011 compared to about 37 percent in 2009, by 2014-2015, more than 330000 women have no job, it is estimated that the percentage will continues. In addition, exclusionary make women be hostile when they enter male-dominant job, because male believe women will threat their supervisor status (Ness, 2012). As winter (2006) state, women are always excluded from infantry, not only because their physical drawback but also the loyalty matters (Woodward and Winter, 2006). According to a mining engineer Gina, "man could do what they are supposed to do while women have to concern on what they are able to do" (Herman, Lewis & Humbert, 2013). So the next section is going to explore what factors cause this situation.

  1. Why OGS result in the undervaluation of women's work
    1. The motherhood and part-time status of women

One of the most important reason reflecting the development of women's career is motherhood. Mother are not supposed to be an idea worker that they undertake main responsibility for family, they have to combine childbearing with the job, hence women shift their full time job to unskilled part-time job or remain unemployed. (Crompton, & Lyonette, 2011) state that having children means great conflict with women's work but unchanged for men, for example, women are not suitable in some professional position, therefore they often delay to have children. When women becomes a mother, they invest less in their career and no interested in promotion thus find lower paid job, their finance are almost depend on their husband, consequently, they neglect the training and human capital, happy to stay in low status and earn less (Mincer and Polachek, 1974). In UK, the childcare system is not comprehensive that women care their child themselves, consequently, the job and working hours are restricted for women (Dale, 1987). From statistics, women's part-time work increase by 33 percent from 1971 to 1991, while women with no child are only 29 percent work as part-time (Blackwell, 2001). Specifically, most of women are family-centered, as a mother of 3 children clams, she will focus less on work and take care children primarily, because the baby will not wait to grow up.

  1. The factors of supply and demand

5.2.1 The supply side

In terms of the supply side, culture and social factors shape different preference and interest in choosing job of men and women which result the segregation in occupation. Barbalescu and Bidwell (2013) summaries 3 factors influencing the choice, reward level, identification and expectations. While some argue that individual's preference is easy to be changed.

It is no doubt that everyone prefer the most valuable job both intrinsic reward such as money and external reward including parent leave, flexible working hour. For the meaning of identification, people apply the job which is most compatible with them. According to research, when people start a new career, they are likely to keep consistent with their identification and the standard (Cross and Markus, 1994). To exam the gender preference, a survey from Barbalescu and Bidwell (2013) found a trend that men are more likely to apply for consulting, trading and finance-related job whereas management, care and service work are more common among women, including human resources, nursing, marketing, teachers, these are perceived as femininity which consist with women's identity. The survey also found the belief of employed in finance filed is quite small among women due to the consideration of their ability and identification. It is tested that the propensity of women's job are greatly influenced by their motherhood identification. Besides, women often choose the job with most female. Refer to expectation theory, the successful outcome in job can be a great force to motive men and women making choice, applicants expect their effort are useful to guarantee the job position (Barbalescu and Bidwell, 2013). The brief and expectation of they can success in the work also reflect their decision, the theory are able to be explained in the example that women are believed limited in engineering or finance filed, thus they are less likely to apply and employed in masculine job because lack of self-identity (Tomlinson, Olsen and Purdam, 2009). In addition, if the organization has sex discrimination previously, they will refuse to enter the organization (Barbalescu and Bidwel, 2013).

As explored above, the 3 factors are interconnected that the preference is the consequence of socialization and culture structure. It is likely that, women prefer job with work-life balance and expect regular time off, men are more likely to pursue reward and power than women while women show less desire on money.

5.2.2 The demand side

The demand side will emphasis on employer's important role that decide whom will be employed through their behavior (Glick, Zion, Nelson, 1988). It is likely that women's career opportunity is limited while men occupied in the most desirable job (Blackburn and Jarman, 1993). The reason why women are excluded and hard to be employed in some field is men and women are treated differently, from employer's perspective, male are dominant and prerogative (Reskin, 2005) thus they prefer hire male especially in "gendered work".

It is believe that women should balance the work and life, so they often work part-time, as a result, employers offer more training to man to maximize their profit (England, 2005). Besides, labor surplus make employer regard women as cheap labor reserve and substitutes, it is because of the scanty of men in labor market when female are employed in male-dominant work (Reilly et al, 2006), According to statistics, women who have experience on industry and IT filed previously are more likely to be offered a male-dominant job.

To test the reason affects the gender segregation in hiring progress and the perspective of employer's discrimination and inequitable brief, first, arbitrary culture make employers hold the view that different job fit for the specific sex. For example, only female are regarded as good carer and resist men applying for such job. Women are also considering not competent in math due to their limited ability (England, 2005). Second is statistical discrimination, which means they regard a group as average to predict individual, the discrimination often against women entering high skill, profession work even men and women are hold same qualification (Cohen, Bianchi, 1999), consequently, women are long-term worried to apply for the job. The discrimination also reflects on the pay gap which is a reason for gender segregation. Markus (1977) point out that women are less paid and the pay level are conflict with their ability, the lower pay is also a result of excessive female job due to few women entre into male-dominant job (Bergmann 1974).

  1. Education, policy and partarchy

Lack of equality legislation includes minimal wage standards and subsidy (Rubery and Rafferty, 2013). High level of legislation will offer men and women equal opportunities and help to balance their dual roles. As Dench et al (2002) described, after carry out the legislation about fair opportunity, female employment rate in UK raise from 48 to 57 percent. In addition, in France, policy on paid childcare support, parental leave are provided for women to manage their family and work (Faulkner, 2009)

According to Jarman and Blackburn and (1993), in 1938, the education degree is 2 percent and only 0.5 fewer for women. It is likely that low education level will be discriminated and women hold high qualification and skills are benefit for their career, hence, the absence of education and training investment on women is another factor result in the distinct occupations on gender (Crompton & Lyonette, 2011).

It is important to notice that, inflected by traditional gender class and the theory of patriarchy, men dominant and controls the society and they are the meaning of power and leader, it is hard for women to have equal opportunity (Blackburn, Browne, Brooks, and Jarman, 2002). According to Cockburn (1991), women and men will be allocated to different job accordingly reduce the competition, thus prevent men's job being attacked by women. Besides, man are seen as active in labor market as breadwinner while women concern on domestic work which make women's work undervalued by such segregation (England, 2005).

6. The acceptable work for male and female and conclusion

As the essay explored above, women seems more acceptable to work as nurse, school teacher, human resource manager, childcare worker, custom service staff and accountant (Elkins, 2015). The essay also collect the data that male are more likely to do the job in engineer, electricity, industry, army and also a majority of men work as computer software engineer and doctor. The essay then base on the example to prove that women's work are treated unequally, not only the pay gap but also the exclusion of senior position, in addition, women are often regarded as unskilled and cheap labor force because their weakness in physical strength (Health and Safety Executive, 2001, 2003; Jones et al., 2003). These inequities provide the evidence that sex discrimination is an issue should be noticed. Finally, the essay find out the reason behind the phenomenon, first, women as a role of mother should combine work and life which made them have limited time and energy enroll the job, thus, women often work as part-time and some are even unemployed. Second, the shortage of education, training and equal policy for women made employers not willing to hire female, they are often regarded as labor reserve and have limited choice and opportunities. The traditional patriarchy also results in the undervalued work of women. Then the essay concentrates on the supply-demand side, both applications' preference and employer's discrimination impact the result. Elkins (2015) state that the disproportion should be concerned and the equally gender proportion in occupations would increase the productivity. For further study, the essay will look closely to find more details about the occupations in each filed and make the data more up to date.


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