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.
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