Women and Blue-Collar Work: Exploring Factors of Women’s Low Presence in Men-Concentrated Occupations and Industry

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Graves, Bronwyn G
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Middle Tennessee State University
Though women’s presence in education and the labor force has grown exponentially in the twentieth century, many agree that progress toward equality in work and pay has stalled from the 1990s onward. Today, women find themselves in lower-paying occupations, women-concentrated occupations and industries, or both—despite rising levels of education. This dissertation aims to explore how the tightening labor market conditions of 2005 to 2019 has influenced women’s presence in men-concentrated occupations and industries. Two chapters of this dissertation focus on women’s presence in blue-collar industries, namely women’s presence in skilled labor and managerial occupations. I find that the power of the industry is a good predictor of women’s presence in skilled labor and management, specifically, that increases in the blue-collar industry’s employment in a city lead to fewer women in skilled blue-collar labor or in blue-collar management. The last chapter focuses on the changes in women’s occupational prestige level during the 2005 to 2019 time period, and I explore the factors that lead women to high-prestige occupations in men-concentrated occupations and industries. This dissertation takes steps to further understanding of women’s choice of occupation and the factors that influence women to enter into men-concentrated occupations and industries.
Blue-collar industry, Gender, Labor market, Economics