The Persistence of Workplace Gender Segregation in the US


  • Philip N. Cohen

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park
    • Correspondence address: Philip N. Cohen, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, CB #3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210, USA. E-mail:

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Occupational gender segregation remains one of the defining elements of gender inequality in modern societies. Recent trends for the United States show that occupational segregation remains high and did not substantially decline in the decade of the 2000s for the first time since 1960. Men and women work in different occupations because of a combination of forces, including culturally defined choices by workers themselves, discrimination by employers, and differences in skill levels and qualities. Research has shown that occupational segregation is an important aspect of gender inequality in earnings and contributes to other forms of inequality as well. The prospects for reducing gender segregation in the short term appear slim, based on the weak effects of educational attainment, cultural attitudes, and state intervention in the current period.