Occupational segregation is the distribution of groups defined by ascribed characteristics, mostly gender, across occupations. More basically, it is the concentration of a similar group of people (be they males, females, whites, blacks, etc) in a job. Occupational segregation levels differ on a basis of perfect segregation and integration. Perfect segregation occurs where occupation and group membership correspond perfectly, where no job is populated by more than one group. Perfect integration, on the other hand, occurs where each group holds the same proportion of positions in an occupation as it holds in the labor force .
Occupational segregation often occurs in patterns. The pattern of segregation refers to the makeup of a group's under- or overrepresentation in a specific occupation. Segregation levels are constant if an occupation goes from being overly male to overly female. Occupational segregation is one of the leading causes of income inequality and to some, it may be the leading cause. As a matter of fact, according to Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, the gender gap in wages is caused more so by segregation across jobs than by pay discrimination within jobs .
Within occupational segregation, there are different types, horizontal and vertical. Horizontal segregation is where a workforce is made up mostly of one gender, race, or other ascribed characteristic. Vertical segregation is similar to the glass ceiling, where opportunities for career advancement for a particular gender, race, or other ascribed characteristics, are narrowed .
Occupational segregation is mostly caused by stereotypical, biological and social differences between genders and races. Segregation arises when preconceived notions about a particular gender or race is carried over into the workforce, and a person's competency is based on these prejudices (i.e. thinking all women are weak and can't engage in heavy labor, thinking all Hispanics won't be able to read memos at a job, etc.). Occupational segregation is also derived from what is known as "gender essentialism", the belief that because of the biological differences between men and women, they are different as far as character and personality are concerned. Gender essentialists view men as being strong and powerful and women as being meek and emotional
Blacks are over- or underrepresented in typical jobs by a factor of 2.1; 21 percent would have to change jobs in order to reach perfect integration with Caucasians. Men are over- or underrepresented in the average occupation by a factor of 5.5; 51 percent would have to change jobs in order to reach perfect integration with women. .
Occupational segregation is measured using Duncan's D (or the index of dissimilarity), which serves as a measure of dissimilarity between two distributions. D has to be calculated first:
1. Identify N different occupations. 2. Calculate the percentage of men (or other ascribed category) who work in each of the occupations and the percentage of women who work in each occupation. Give men and women a variable name (m1 could = men, w1 could = women). 3. Duncan's D is calculated using this formula: D=½?i|m1-w1|
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