Profiles of Integrated and Segregated Occupations
All modern societies have a high degree of role differentiation and specialization and have conventions for allocating roles and tasks to members on the basis of sex and age, at the minimum, along with a variety of other criteria. The sexual division of labour is sometimes reinforced by formal rules or laws permitting and restricting access to particular occupations, social and political roles. But informal rules and conventions can be equally powerful, and they have persisted long after the introduction of sex and race discrimination legislation in Europe, North America, and other modern industrialized societies in the 1960s and 1970s. Studies of occupational segregation are concerned with the degree of separation between work done mainly by men and work done mainly by women. Theories of occupational segregation claim that women lose out from this separation of male and female workforces. For example, occupational segregation is a main building block, or the sole foundation-stone of theories of patriarchy ( Hartmann, 1976; Walby, 1990; Hakim, 1996a: 9-13). In the USA, race was until recently an important second factor in occupational segregation ( Cunningham and Zalokar, 1992; King, 1992; Sokoloff, 1992; Tomaskovic-Devey, 1993) but it has generally been far less important in the British labour market ( Mayhew and Rosewell, 1978; Stewart, 1983; Bruegel, 1994) and we do not address it here.
Policy debates commonly depict occupational segregation as a labour market imperfection or problem, as a reflection of sex discrimination in the labour market and of labour market inequality, as the main source of the sex differential in earnings and of women's disadvantaged position in the labour market. National equal opportunities agencies have an important role in abolishing overt and covert rules, regulations, and selection procedures that discriminate against women (or men) entering particular occupations. Their official reports necessarily argue against maintaining distinctions between what is regarded as men's work and what is regarded as women's work in the interests of creating a more open and competitive labour market. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in Britain has gone further, to seek the elimination of job segregation by encouraging people to enter nontraditional educational courses and jobs, and encouraging women to be economically independent throughout life, in order to 'overcome the persistent