America's most gender-differentiated jobs


Because people aren’t assigned jobs by an omnipotent computer after taking an aptitude test.


It’s been a long time since I was a mechanic or an electrician, but yes, I’ve been employed as both. Also as a manual laborer digging ditches for building foundations, in which capacity I worked daily with carpenters and masons.

Again, I can’t directly comment on today’s work environment. But. Back in the 1970s and 80s, the most bigoted, sexist, racist people I have ever known in my entire life were carpenters, masons, and mechanics. And there were a lot of them. In particular, the members of the local Italian American community (who refer to themselves as “the paisans”) were openly and vociferously racist against women and black people, referring to them by many derogatory names and playing cruel practical jokes on them pretty much daily. In the construction trades, women had to defend themselves physically against sexual harassment pretty much constantly, and black people had to do all the dirtiest and most demeaning work.

This had nothing to do with capabilities or capacities, it was straight up bigotry.

I haven’t seen any sexual or racial discrimination among programmers in the mid-Atlantic coast area of the USA. I understand it is a big problem in places like California and Washington, but around here I’ve never seen anything but programmers being judged by the content of their character and the skills they could bring to the table.


I agree we aren’t assigned jobs by AI’s; people gravitate towards careers based on their interests, skills, and job availability. WWII proved plenty of women made great mechanics when no males were available to do those jobs and a concerted effort was made to convince them to enter that workforce. Should we renew a WWII effort to create more jobs for women in carpentry and construction, using an affirmative action plan? Tried quite often with minority/women owned business incentives through government, doesn’t seem to effect field workers in those trades.


Actually what jumps out at me as the biggest difference in most of these jobs is physical labor vs clerical/social, with of course ceo, programmers and such being outliers.

If I where to generalize, woman aren’t trusted to do any job requiring strength, and men aren’t trusted to have social skills


I was indeed surprised that most accountants are women. I was more surprised to realize that stat surprised me given that my accountant has been the same woman for seventeen years.


Places I’ve worked that were not young tech shops were pretty well gender balanced. However, the gender split tends to run more towards women as managers / project managers (including the department head being female) and men as developers. I’d say maybe 15% to 20% of the devs I’ve worked with were female. Although having such concerns is literally not my problem or job, the only actually BAD developers I ever met were male, and I’d say the women were probably above average. I’m not sure its any more a problem than a lack of female carpenters, or any more (or less) a result of systemic sexism, but there’s probably more acceptance & less subtle (or not so subtle) criticism encountered by mediocre male devs (and carpenters, for that matter).


It occurs to me that there has also been a long-standing trend towards using female voices on account of factors like higher-pitched voices being easier to hear.

But it also occurs to me that factors such as this have likely been thoroughly analyzed to death time and time again when it comes to such studies.


Or both are less inclined to WANT such jobs. Either may come down to self trust, social norms, learned skills, or (more likely in the case of physical labor) actual native ability. Maybe even a complex combination of all of the above.

That the job that skews the most male combines technical analysis AND physical labor is perhaps an indication that programming isn’t so much of an outlier, as the data set simply ignores a lot of technical job titles (likely because they tend to be splintered - the list seems to include mostly very common job titles). “Engineer” is not on the list, for example. Common stereo typing makes it seem likely technical roles skew male, for whatever reason One I can think of is that a lot of tech roles are easier to get as a result of military training. “Soldier” is also not on that list…


Is that simply a hypothesis, or an actual supported theory?

Its very common in many cultures (and species) for male and female tasks, roles, and even grouping to be somewhat or even extremely divergent. So from an anthropological and maybe even evolutionary perspective, maybe a workplace dominated by one gender is in fact what our brains find pleasing?

Assuming that just because we are born in a 50 / 50 gender ratio, our brains would want to preserve that in cultural contexts, seems like saying the because we are born with (more or less) bilateral symmetry, our brains would not want to have a dominant hand (let alone have that dominant hand skew strongly to one side in the general population).


Most of the job titles are gender neutral (e.g., “Accountants”) or at least mostly inclusive (e.g., “Waiters and Waitresses”), so what’s up with “Maids”? Shouldn’t that be “Housekeepers”?


Different tasks, sure. But traditionally we live together. And given most of human history, live in quite close proximity indeed.

So it’s really more like saying since we are born with bilateral symmetry we’d find symmetrical things beautiful. And… we sort of do.

Oh, goodness, no, not even a hypothesis. It’d need to be more clearly falsifiable to be a hypothesis. The epistemic status of what I’ve written is very, very speculative. An impression.

That said, with some work you could turn it into a hypothesis and test it and my prior’s reasonably high that you’d fail to falsify it.


… and compensation, and social pressures, and a dozen other reasons. I know you know that, but it’s worth mentioning because those three factors alone make it sound like getting a job is picking what you like and seeing what’s out there. Almost nobody has their dream job. For many folks, having their dream job wouldn’t pay enough to feed or house them.

I think this is an interesting take. I don’t think that these graphs are some result that needs to be fixed directly. These graphs are symptomatic of a job market in a society that tells kids from an early age “Boys can do this, and girls can do this. These jobs are for both (this last sentence added in 1960).”

It’s not even necessarily as malicious as that makes it sound, either. Electricians: I am an electrical engineer and have seen probably 200 different electricians over the course of my career. Not one was a lady. I haven’t watched TV in a while, but I’d bet representation of electricians there probably reflects that as well (aside from some well-intentioned children’s programming perhaps). It’s very self-perpetuating.

But is it bad? I’m biased as a white-collar worker, but I think the inherent sexism in our society still being only part of the reason women don’t want those jobs; the other part is that they are not really that desirable. Yes, I know, tradespeople are the backbone of our modern society; they keep the water, power, and air moving that makes modern life possible. But if you were going to enter a (possibly only passively, but in many cases probably actively) hostile work environment, wouldn’t you rather it be one that you wouldn’t break your back doing it? I know I would.


It seems it’s more common to be a CEO than to be an engineer. Granted, “engineer” might be considered a qualification rather than a job title, but I have always listed “Engineer” as my occupation. I might be an outlier.


Fair enough - people certainly don’t live like elephants, for example. But living situations and division of labor are very different things. I’d agree that living conditions with large gender imbalances tend to be uncomfortable or at least uncommon, but gender specific jobs (or, historically, even household tasks) seem very common indeed, even in cultures where there doesn’t really seem to be a difference between gender roles otherwise (which granted, are so rare that you can only really go by relative values). Gender based labor division is practically a defining aspect of cultures in anthropology.


As even a casual viewing of Downton Abbey would tell you there’s a world of difference between a housekeeper and a maid.



In general, medieval and pre-medieval European cultures were less hung up on symmetry than modern societies are. At least, that’s my judgement based on looking at surviving artifacts. Balance (which is admittedly related to symmetry) seems more universal.


Yeah, I think the thing is that “CEO” is a more common job title. With “engineer” you usually have some modifier like electrical, mechanical, structural, software, sanitation. Maybe one or both of those last two don’t count as “real” engineers, but how would they decide which modified titles to strip the adjective from? I suppose they could go by jobs that require licensing, but then you maybe also get down to there being to few to be among common jobs.

Similarly, it seems there are more CEO’s than doctors (which is the nearest case to a licensed job title I can thing of), since doctors are not on the list. Which… wow. But I suppose almost every business has a CEO, even if its a small company.


Even more, I’d like to see an indication as to relative numbers. The fact that these are “the most common jobs” says nothing about how common each is. For example, they could indicate how many people do each job by line thickness or opacity. It would be interesting to know if there was a clear trend towards gender segregated occupations being a minority or majority, which the given infographic does not indicate in any way. And that could change over time, without the balance within certain fields changing any, simply by certain jobs becoming less / more common!


[post]-Secondary school teachers (at middle) are MUCH more likely to be unionized than auto mechanics, childcare workers or secretaries (at ends).


I was struck by the “base” of the hour glass. There is a BIG jump at “grounds maintenance workers” and similar, but less dramatic jump at “personal care aides”