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Sex Segregation in the Workplace

Barbara Reskin
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 19 (1993), pp. 241-270
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2083388
Page Count: 30
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Sex Segregation in the Workplace
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Abstract

This chapter reviews research on the segregation of women and men in the workplace. After examining ways to measure segregation, I summarize trends in sex segregation in the United States and cross-nationally. Occupational segregation has declined since 1970, but most workers remain in sex segregated jobs. I then evaluate the empirical support for explanations for segregation. Demand-side explanations include employers' preferences, the demand for workers, economic pressures, discrimination, and personnel practices. Supply-side explanations include the size of the labor supply, the neoclassical human-capital explanation, gender-role socialization, workers' values, and the opportunity structure. I conclude that a variety of social and economic forces operate both to perpetuate and to reduce segregation. However, workplace segregation is an important mechanism in sex stratification, and a stratification perspective stresses the importance of demand-side factors. I call for research on sex segregation that examines the behavior of all labor market actors.

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