Women Have Made Significant Strides in Closing the Gender Gap in Law and Science


Women have made big strides at closing the gender gap in professional work, but still dominate more traditional roles.

Recently the University of Minnesota released data from a project called IPUMS-CPS which analysized Census and Labor Department data. The Wall Street Journal analyzed nearly five decades worth of data from IPUMS-CPS and found Women are closing the gender gap in many industries, but a significant ranges remain in others.

Women continue to hold large portions of the workforce in several occupations seen as traditionally female including health-care workers, teachers and administrative support. Likewise, men occupy many of the same jobs they had back in 1970, such as truck drivers, construction workers and architects. However, men have moved into some traditionally female jobs, such as waitstaff.

The biggest gains for women have come in the professional world, careers in law and finance. The data suggests that banks and insurers as well as accounting firms saw big changes in the gender disparity. While women make up more than 50% of jobs in those fields, men still hold more of the top roles which can lead to a gender pay gap. The increased numbers in these feilds reflect the fact that women have been earning the majority of bachelor’s and advanced degrees for a few decades.

The data also shows that women have been hired in larger numbers for the occupations of bartending, as well as in the baking and real estate sectors. Some labor-market researchers hypothesize those shifts were caused because they provide more flexibility than many full-time professions.

As certain jobs gained clout and better pay, the data showed that the industry would often lose women. One such field is Computer-programming, it grew with the rise of the personal computer and the dot-com boom in the 1990s. A similar phenomenon happened as restaurant kitchens became more high-end and corporate. Separately, economic data show that post-recession, a disproportionate number of manufacturing jobs created in the recovery have gone to men.

Some jobs remain almost exclusively male or female. Preschool teachers, child-care workers and secretaries, which are seen as nurturing roles, are still overwhelmingly women. Men dominate jobs in fire-fighting, welding and law enforcement, traditionally seen as more physically demanding roles.

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Economics, Finance and Investing