Exploring Society By The Numbers

Occupational Sex Segregation

Theodore Fuller, Virginia Tech


Occupational sex segregation will be studied by focusing on traditionally gender-oriented occupations and analyzing which have an increasing proportion of males or females, and which are still mainly gender-specific jobs. These analyses will be done by age group to study trends at different stages of people's careers.

Learning Goals

  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Identifying population trends over time
  • Using real world data to enhance and support key course concepts
  • Race
    • Race/ethnicity cannot be reliably determined for 1970 for the six categories introduced in Topic two. Therefore, Race is simply coded as Black or Nonblack for this module.
  • Earnings
    • One set of earnings categories is used for doctors and lawyers in this module, and a different set is used for the other occupations and All Workers.
    • Earnings from the 1990 census refers earnings in 1989. Earnings from the 1970 and 1980 censuses refer to earnings for 1969 and 1979, respectively, but they have been translated into equivalent 1989 dollars for easy comparison.
  • Age
  • Cohort
  • Occupation
  • Gender

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Sociology class for undergraduate students. This activity looks as gender and occupation over time in the United States.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 91kB Mar24 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 45kB Mar24 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses one customized data sets made from combining census information from 1970-1990. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!


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References and Resources

"Beller, Andrea. "Trends in Occupational Segregation by Sex and Race, 1960-1981." Pp. 11-26 in Barbara F. Reskin (ed.), Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanations, Remedies. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1984.

Bianchi, Suzanne M. and Daphne Spain. "Labor Force Participation and Occupational Composition." Pp. 139-166 in Bianchi and Spain, American Women in Transition, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1986.

Bianchi, Suzanne M. and Daphne Spain. "Earnings." Pp. 169-198 in Bianchi and Spain, American Women in Transition, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1986.

Bianchi, Suzanne. "Changing Economic Roles of Women and Men." Pp. 107-154 in Reynolds Farley (ed.) State of the Union, America in the 1990s. Volume One: Economic Trends. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1995.

England, Paula and Irene Browne. "Trends in Women's Economic Status." Sociological Perspectives 35:17-51, 1992.

Roos, Patricia A. and Barbara A. Reskin. "Occupational Desegregation in the 1970s: Integration and Economic Equity." Sociological Perspectives 35:69-91, 1992.

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