Sex stratification in the workplace: Male-female differences in economic returns to occupation

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Employing data from the 1974-1977 NORC General Social Surveys, I investigate differences in the earnings attainment of currently employed white men and women age 25 to 64. I focus special attention on the explanatory effects of job characteristics other than those traditionally employed in prestige and status-defined earnings models. The results, based on a multivariate regression analysis and a regression standardization procedure, suggest that a nontrivial portion of the earnings gap between men and women is due to women's concentration in jobs which are low-paying and heavily female and because women are less likely than men to exercise authority in their jobs or to control the means of production. Including these factors in an earnings model statistically increases women's earnings as a percentage of men's by over 7%, accounting for approximately 13% of the earnings gap. Net of these job characteristics, gender differences in industry distribution are not substantively important in explaining why women earn less than men, accounting for only 0.4% of the earnings gap. When single women's earnings are adjusted to take account of their occupational concentration, 10% of the male-single female earnings gap is explained, providing preliminary evidence that the job characteristics I specify are not mere proxies for work experience. Including job characteristics as measures of the context of employment thus usefully extends the human capital and prestige or statusdefined models traditionally employed in explanations of the male-female earnings differential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-224
Number of pages30
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1981
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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