Black Female Clerical Workers: Movement toward Equality with White Women?




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    • *Sarah Lawrence College, and Department of Economics, Roosevelt University. Bob Buchele, Susan Carter, and Joel Fingerman provided assistance throughout this project. Janis Barry commented on a previous draft of this article. Earlier versions of this article were presented to the Ninth Annual Conference of the International Working Party on Labor Market Segmentation, Turin, Italy, July 1987; the Western Economics Association, Los Angeles, CA, July 1988; and the Third Annual Conference on Labor Market Segmentation, Notre Dame University, April 1990.


This article examines the occupational mobility patterns of black and white female clerical workers from 1972 to 1980. Black women were initially concentrated in the lower-paying clerical positions and were less likely than white women to leave for better jobs in other areas. Those black women who had relatively good clerical jobs tended not to rise any further and even experienced some difficulty in maintaining their occupational status. Education and training aided occupational mobility less for black women than for white women.