While it tends to create an image of paternalist industrial revolution
era mills, occupational segregation
is an observed (rarely designed) social phenomenon in the post-fordist
Occupational segregation exists as a persistent feature of European labour markets (presumably the US as well) whereby women tend to work in different occupations than men (i.e. service vs. manufacturing, as measured by percentage participation in an industry) creating horizontal segregation. In areas where women and men work together women tend to hold lower level positions, illustrating that vertical segregation is alive and well in modern society.
- horizontal segregation
- In UK and Ireland nearly half of all working women work in "feminized" occupations where over 60% of their coworkers are female. Among Esping-Anderson's model welfare states, Scandinavia has the highest levels of horizontal segregation (nearly those of the British Isles). Scandinavia comes closest to gender parity in workforce participation. Spain has the lowest levels of female workforce participation, but has seen a recent upsurge of employed women. Most of these new jobs are fixed-term contract positions rather than full-time careers, further increasing gender cleavage. Germany relies on a greater percentage of manufacturing positions than other EU states, which are not commonly filled by women (even when training is available). The former West Germany does not have a tradition of female employment for this reason, so present levels of employment remain somewhat low. Before unification East Germany had a high level of female workforce participation (and zero unemployment, by law), but post-unification dislocation has affected women most and the GDR's programs have been supplanted by the FRG design.
- vertical segregation
- It is difficult to compare positions across industries, but a rough idea of vertical segregation can be gleaned by comparing average wages of men and women. Throughout the EU wage differences are decreasing, but at a painfully slow rate. In Scandinavian states high levels of government transfers ("decommodification") further obscure the differences.
In some states occupational segregation is less visible, but empirical
evidence does not suggest that it will disappear in anything short of the longest term view.
meta: I don't know enough about the US situation to comment (yet). Your /msg's are always welcome.