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Winter 2004-05 Vol. 48, Number 4

Some occupations becoming more gender-neutral

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Many occupations are dominated by either female workers or male workers. Most physical therapists are women, for example, and most engineers are men. But according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, these differences have lessened in numerous occupations.

People often look beyond traditional gender roles in choosing careers. In the charts below, each occupation had more than 95 percent of workers of one sex in 1983, and the share of workers of the opposite sex in each occupation increased in the years that followed. The charts show changes in employment share between 1983 and 2002, the years for which comparable data are available.

Male-dominated occupations in which women increased their share of employment, 1983-2002


Automobile body and related repairers had the greatest shift. At one time, almost all of these repairers were men—yet between 1983 and 2002, the share of women working in this occupation more than tripled. The upper chart shows the occupations in which women had the most significant increases, but women boosted their employment share in nearly all occupations. Similarly, as the lower chart shows, men have had some notable gains in occupations dominated by women.

A percent increase in employment share describes a shift in the distribution of men and women in an occupation. But an increase in employment share does not indicate the actual number of jobs held by workers of a particular sex. For example, although men’s participation in dressmaking increased dramatically between 1983 and 2002, relatively few male workers (11,000) were employed in the occupation in 2002.

Female-dominated occupations in which men increased their share of employment, 1983-2002

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: July 6, 2005