A recent study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. has outlined how professions are still dominated by particular sexes, although it does suggest that women are making progress within some previously male dominated professions whilst other professions are seeing increasingly less women than 20 years ago.
The study outlines how the percentage of women has increased in several professions including law, which has seen a rise of female lawyers from four percent in 1972 to 32.2 percent in 2009. However some sectors have seen a considerable decrease in female representation; female computer programmers have fallen from 33 percent to 21 percent, and from 13 percent of civil engineers in 2005 to just over seven percent in 2009.
However according to Index of Dissimilarity, overall progress towards equity has stalled since 1996, 95 percent of kindergarten teachers, librarians, dental assistants and registered nurses.
Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said:
“It is very likely that the stalled progress in integrating the labor market is contributing to the failure of the wage gap to close.”
The study also highlighted that women traditionally require a higher level of education to achieve the same positions and salaries as their male counterpart.
Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research explained:
“All workers are likely to do better if they have at least some post-secondary school qualifications. Yet while it is still possible without college to earn a decent wage in some male-dominated occupations, the same is not true in female-dominated occupations. Almost as important as getting a qualification, however, is the field in which you qualify. A speech language pathologist – an occupation that is predominantly female – on average makes US$1153 per week, compared with a pharmacist – an occupation nearly half female – who receives median earnings of US$1841, a difference of close to US$700 for a week of full-time work.”
Policy makers need to pay attention to the stalled progress in gender desegregation. Occupational segregation carries costs for the economy and employers by exacerbating skill shortages and causing reduced productivity. It also costs working families. Particularly in low-skilled jobs, working in an occupation predominantly held by women instead of one held by men, may be the difference between earning a poverty wage and earning a family supporting wage,” said Robert Drago, research director for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.