Race and Gender Discrimination at Work

By Samuel Cohn | Go to book overview

3 What Determines If a Job Is Male or Female?

In the previous chapter, labor cost buffering was introduced as an important principle of occupational sex-typing. That discussion, however, was incomplete. The theory was not used in any satisfactory fashion to explain the broad, general patterns of which jobs are male and which jobs are female. Furthermore, no other theories were considered that could provide plausible alternative accounts of how sex-typing is determined.

This chapter is a general discussion of the overall determinants of occupational sex-typing. Labor cost buffering will play a major part in this argument, although in a somewhat more sophisticated form than that presented in the last chapter. The primary appeal of this theory is that it works. Support for the model is provided with a statistical examination of occupational sex-typing in the United States, a historical analysis of the introduction of women in clerical work in Britain, and a contemporary look at the use of female managers in India. Having a theory of occupational sex-typing theory that works is slightly unusual because most theories of occupational sex-typing don't.

To appreciate the significance of these dynamics, the chapter commences with a lengthy discussion of the traditional arguments that are usually provided to explain why some jobs are male and some jobs are female. These traditional positions are usually held both by students and academics alike. Most of them sound good. Their intuitive appeal makes undergraduates and professors relatively reluctant to give them up. Unfortunately, the logic of these traditional positions is dicey and they run into flagrant contradictions with the historical evidence. Comfortable theories of occupational sex-typing tend to be wrong theories of occupational sex-typing. The student who seeks a compelling

-51-

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Race and Gender Discrimination at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Notes 28
  • 3 What Determines If a Job is Male or Female? 51
  • Notes 79
  • Notes 114
  • Notes 139
  • 6 Why Are Blacks More Likely to Be Unemployed Than Are Whites? 140
  • Notes 165
  • 7 Twenty-Six Things to Remember About Discrimination 166
  • Appendix A: Glossary 171
  • Appendix B: A Socratic Guide to Race and Gender Discrimination at Work 174
  • Appendix C: Problems for Deeper Thought 183
  • References 185
  • Index 193
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