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Both men and women benefit from working in mixed gender occupations, according to a new report which shows gender segregation at work has big implications for the gender pay gap, job quality and working conditions.
The report, A New Method to Understand Occupational Gender Segregation in European Labour Markets, by Dr Brendan Burchell, Vincent Hardy, Professor Jill Rubery and Dr Mark Smith, says 18% of women work in mixed occupations (60-40% men & women), 69% in female-dominated occupations (more than 60% female) and only 13% in male-dominated occupations (more than 60% male).
In contrast, only 15% of male employees worked in mixed occupations and 59% in male-dominated occupations with 26% working in occupations where they are a minority.
The research focused on the 20 most common occupations, ranked from the most male-dominated (building workers) to the most female-dominated (personal care workers).
It found that women tend to be virtually shut out of certain occupations among the 20 – accounting for less than 5% of mechanics and metal workers; building workers and miners; and drivers.
Men are not excluded from any occupation to the same extent, but account for less than a quarter of sssociate nurses and healthcare assistants occupation, teaching associate professionals and customer service clerks.
Over time the segregation of the top 20 occupations has remained fairly stable. However, large variations in segregation by occupation exist across EU countries.
The report found that in the case of supervisory responsibilities opportunities for supervisory responsibilities are highly concentrated in certain occupations for both women and men and these opportunities tend to be low in female-dominated occupations.
Men are also more likely to be supervisors than women in every single occupational group, even the most female-dominated ones, says the report.
Similarly gender pay gaps in favour of men exist in almost all occupations, but average pay levels within female-dominated and male-dominated occupations vary according to the nature of the work.
The researchers note that this means that some female-dominated occupations provide average pay levels for women as well as men that exceed men’s average pay in the labour market as a whole.
The research found men tend to increase their share of better-paying occupations as they get older while women become increasingly excluded from the professional, white-collar occupations associated with higher pay and more concentrated in more female-dominated, less skilled occupations with shorter hours.
It also found that mothers of children under 15 were under-represented in male-dominated occupations while for fathers there is a clear tendency to be over-represented in male-dominated occupations and under-represented in female-dominated occupations.
The link between segregation and working time is strong, says the report. It states: “There is a clear tendency for the proportion of women working part-time to increase as the occupation becomes more female-dominated.”
Three quarters of women employees working part-time are found in female-dominated occupations and 45% of male part-timers work in female-dominated occupations compared to just 26% of all men, says the report.
Men’s average working hours are longer than women’s in every occupation, but gender gaps are smallest in mixed occupations, with much longer hours for men in both male-dominated and female-dominated occupations.
The research found female-dominated occupations also have lower levels of irregular scheduling of working hours but men in female-dominated occupations experience high levels of irregularity, particularly in service, personal care and security workers occupation.
Men and women in mixed occupations have the most regular schedules.
In terms of health at work, the research found both men and women in male-dominated, and especially blue-collar, occupations face a much greater risk of accidents at work and environmental risks.
However, the highest proportions of workers reporting health problems from their employment are found in female-dominated occupations.
Exposure to harassment, bullying, violence or the threat of violence increases as the occupation becomes more female-dominated. Women were more likely to be found in public sector jobs where they had more opportunity to rise up the career ladder.
The researchers say their report shows that both men and women benefit from working in mixed occupations and provides a new lever for policy makers to address segregation by occupation.
They say raising awareness of the interaction of segregation with working conditions, job quality and other job characteristics underlines the consequences of the sex segregation of women and men.
They state: “The analyses underline the link between the worker characteristics and the types of job they do. Many of the patterns we see in the labour market data used in this report are in part the product of the unequal gender divisions of cooking, cleaning and caring work within the household.
A better understanding of these interactions offers the opportunity to develop of more effective and focused policies to reduce both gendered occupational segregation and also the inequalities that arise out of occupational gender segregation.”