Women earn more if they work in different occupations than men

The Dimensions of Occupational Gender Segregation in Industrial Countries

From Sociology

Women earn less money than men the more the sexes share the same occupations reveals this study that examines a large-scale survey of 20 industrialised countries. Findings indicate that the more women and men keep to different trades and professions, the more equal is the overall pay average for the two sexes in a country. The researchers attribute the surprising results to the fact that when there are few men in an occupation, women have more chance to get to the top and earn more. But where there are more equal numbers of men and women working in an occupation the men dominate the high-paying jobs.

Pay was most equal in Slovenia, where women on average earn slightly more than men, and in Mexico, Brazil, Sweden and Hungary, where women earn almost as much as men on average. In these countries men and women work in different occupations to a greater extent than in many of the other countries the researchers looked at. In other countries such as Japan, the Czech Republic, Austria and Netherlands, women are more likely to work in the same occupations as men, and the gap between their pay and men’s is higher than average. The UK was higher than average among the 20 countries for inequality in pay.


It is well known that women and men tend to work in different occupations, and generally held that this disadvantages women. In order to understand how far this occupational segregation entails gender inequality it is necessary to examine the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the segregation. The horizontal dimension measures difference without inequality while the vertical dimension measures the extent of the occupational inequality. Two measures of vertical inequality are used: pay and social stratification (CAMSIS). Measurements over a number of industrially developed countries show the expected male advantage with regard to pay. However, contrary to popular beliefs, women are consistently advantaged in terms of stratification. Also, it is found that the position of women is more favourable where the overall segregation is higher – the lower the male advantage on pay and the greater the female advantage on stratification.

Read this research for free

Article details
Jarman, J., Blackburn, R., & Racko, G. (2012). The Dimensions of Occupational Gender Segregation in Industrial Countries Sociology, 46 (6), 1003-1019 DOI: 10.1177/0038038511435063

This entry was posted in SAGE Insight, Sociology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.