Separate And Unequal

Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the wage gap: the fact that full-time women workers earn 77 percent of what full-time male workers do. One major reason is job segregation by sex. Jobs themselves are gendered, such that women have a tendency to enter feminized occupations and men have a tendency to enter masculinized occupations. How severe is job segregation by sex? In 2010, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported that about about 4 in 10 women work in jobs that are 75 percent female; the reverse is true for men.

Overall, masculinized occupations pay more. (This is a different kind of sexism, a sexism against feminine-coded things instead of against women, but sexism nonetheless… for example.) Job segregation, then, contributes to the pay gap between men and women.

The figure below from the IWPR report shows how this has changed over time. The y axis is an “Index of Dissimilarity.” Basically, a score of one indicates complete segregation and a score of zero means that the job is 50/50 male and female.

The white line, labeled “civilian labor force” shows that, overall, sex segregation has been going down over time. It also shows, however, that most of the decrease occurred in the ’70s and ’80s.  It has changed little since then.

The lines above and below the white line show that sex segregation correlates with education level.  People who have at least a bachelors degree are in less sex segregated jobs, while people who did not attend or finish college tend to be in more segregated jobs. This means that, insofar as sex segregation at work contributes to a wage gap, it is more extreme for working class people than for others.

Reprinted from Sociological Images.

Photo of money from Flickr user under Creative Commons.